Walking out of the locker room at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Saturday night, Jaylon Jackson was in no mood to celebrate.
Naturally, the redshirt freshman receiver was disappointed after the Colorado football team lost to Southern California, 31-20.
Jackson could not completely hide his smile, though, when asked about his two catches for 19 yards in the fourth quarter.
"It felt really good," he said. "I'm glad I was able to get out there and make some catches, be out there with my brothers, fighting to try to get a win."
Forgive Jackson for enjoying a personal victory amid the first loss of the season for the Buffs (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12). This was the first time Jackson had participated in a game since Nov. 13, 2015, when he was a junior at Cedar Hill (Tex.) High School.
"It's been so long since I played," he said. "I feel like I've been watching for so long, just watching and taking mental reps."
The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Jackson is an exceptionally talented and speedy athlete who was so good that, as a sophomore in 2014, he had 744 all-purpose yards on a senior-laden team that won the Texas state title. That Cedar Hill team was led by current USC running back Aca'Cedric Ware and several other seniors.
Jackson would have been one of the Longhorns' stars in 2015, but a torn ACL in his right knee cost him the entire regular season. He returned in time for the first-round of the playoffs, contributing 40 yards of offense in a loss.
Jackson had not played since then. In preparation for his senior year, he re-tore his ACL and missed the entire campaign. CU honored its scholarship offer, though, and Jackson enrolled at CU in January of 2017.
Early in August of 2017, Jackson suffered a broken fibula and dislocated ankle during a scrimmage. Again, he missed the entire season.
Healthy again and turning heads this August, Jackson injured his foot before the season opener against Colorado State. He missed the first three games this year, and didn't play in the next two.
Jackson wasn't expecting to play against the Trojans, either, but said, "It was kind of on the spot. They said, 'Hey Jaylon, you're in.' Luckily, I was ready and focused and ready to go in there and make a play."
Jackson was targeted four times and caught two passes, including a 14-yarder that gave the Buffs a first down and helped to set up a late touchdown.
"I knew when Jaylon got in there he was going to make some plays when the ball was given to him and he did," Montez said. "He went in there and caught a couple balls and made some defenders miss. It was good to see him out there. It's good to know he's going to go out there and make plays like that.
"We knew it and we saw it in spring practice and he was doing it big in fall camp, as well. It's good to see him come out in a live game and go out there and have some positive plays. Very positive for Jaylon Jackson."
Even better for Jackson because he had a lot of family in the stands, he said. They got to see him finally get into a game and experience the speed of the college game.
"It was good to see the game speed, the physicality, because it's a different level from high school," he said. "It was good to be out there and actually go against the speed, against the top dogs."
Jackson being healthy and ready to go could come at a great time for CU, which is starting to pile up injuries at its deepest position.
Senior Juwann Winfree has missed four games in a row with an ankle injury. Senior Jay MacIntyre left Saturday's game with a concussion and sophomore Laviska Shenault left the game with a toe injury.
Jackson showed Saturday that he will be ready if his name is called again.
"We go through fall, we go through the summer, all together working hard," he said. "It felt really good to be out there."