Remembering Brandon Jackson: Orlando Mitjans

Orlando Mitjans brought up Brandon Jackson’s name just last week when meeting with his cornerbacks at The Citadel.

Mitjans spoke of Jackson’s determination and will to be a starting cornerback in his freshman season at Army last week.

“He didn’t he didn’t care that he was a freshman,” Mitjans, Army’s cornerback coach in 2015, told his Citadel players. “He was going to try and outwork everybody else so he could be a starter and sure enough he became the starter.”

Mitjans was devastated by Jackson’s passing in a car accident early Sunday morning. Army coach Jeff Monken called  Mitjans with the numbing news Sunday.

“He (Monken) said, ‘Orlando, I know you had a great relationship with Brandon and I felt like you would want to know this,'” Mitjans said. “I appreciated him calling me. He (Jackson) meant a lot to me and to Claire (Mitjans’ wife). I cried last night and I’m going to cry again because I loved that young man.

“He was a special young man who had the world right at his hands. He was going to be a special, special player. He had that ability, that talent. He would have been a special player there at Army.”

Mitjans, who is from the Bronx, and Jackson, a Queens native,  immediately bonded through their New York City ties. The coach got to know Jackson and his mother, Morna Davis, on Saturdays after home games where Mitjans would host dinner.

“She (Davis) put him through school,” Mitjans said. “For a single woman to bring up a young man in this day and age is amazing. She did a great job with him just the way he presented himself and the way he carried himself.”

Mitjans helped recruit Jackson to West Point. He reached out to Davis during the recruiting process.

“I’m hurting for Brandon and his family,” Mitjans said. “I’m also hurting for those other (cornerbacks) too. Stevie Johnson, Mike Reynolds and Marcus Hyatt, guys that know him and know him well. All three of them (Jackson, Reynolds and Hyatt) kind of grew up together.

“They’ve known each other since day one. They all came in as freshmen together. They learned together…These are the guys that I am worried about and hopefully they can get through this and the situation can make them stronger.”

Mitjans believes Army will get through the difficult time because of the brotherhood Monken has built at West Point.

“Coach Monken does a great job in instilling the brotherhood into everybody,” Mitjans said. “Even though I’m not there anywhere, I’m still part of their family. I’m still in touch with those coaches. I still talk to Monk. I still talk to the players. They reach out to me. I reach out to them.

“The brotherhood is always going to be there and that’s something Monk has fathered everywhere that he’s been…They have a great bunch of coaches there. They believe in the brotherhood and they will keep those young men together and they will get through it.”

Citadel’s football team had off Monday. Mitjans was sitting in his office when cornerbacks and safeties starting filing in. They had heard the news of Jackson’s passing.

“They came by my office to say they are sorry and to make sure I was OK,” Mitjans said. “It made me cry again. Just to have them come by and spend a couple of moments with me.”

Mitjans will have more stories about Jackson to tell his players in the future. Jackson’s memory will live on through his former coach.

“He was a young man that wanted to be great and it bothered him when he wasn’t able to have success either in the classroom or on the football field or in life,” Mitjans said. “He wanted to be successful in anything that he tried to do.”

 

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