For the Arizona State football game on December 5, 2020, He Peizhang (Hé Pèizhāng) , also named Jackson He, played for the Arizona State University (ASU) Sun Devils wearing a jersey that has his Chinese name 何佩璋 rather than his English name. He is a 5 feet 9 inches and 220 lb college football player from Shaoguan in the Guangdong province of China. He has been playing football for five years and is playing as a running back for the Sun Devils. He is considered the first Chinese-born player to play the FSB level of college football. In the game between the Sun Devils and Arizona Wildcats on December 11 2020, He became the first Chinese national to score a touchdown in Football Bowl Subdivision. His football legacy started when he was 17 years old.
In China, He did not have time to play football since academics took up most of his time. He was struggling with his classes and the one-time Chinese college entrance exam, gaokao, was coming closer to him; He’s parents worried about his grades and whether he will go to a good college and have a good career. Therefore, when He was 17, his parents decided to send him to the United States for him to attend a better college. At first, He refused to go to the United States because it was an unknown place to him; however, he respected his parents’ decisions and attended Lutheran High School in San Diego.
During the first few months as a senior in Lutheran High School, He had language difficulties and could not make friends. He’s American name was Jackson because he liked Michael Jackson. While walking to class, the school’s football coach Ron Allen saw how big He was and asked him to join the football team. Although He was unfamiliar with football, he gave it a try. In his first practice, he was very confused about football, but it did not stop him. He often stayed after practice to practice even more. He made improvements each day with his football and Allen found out that He has speed. On the team, he made many friends and his English became better. He played in a season and earned the team’s Most Improved Player award. Although He was in his senior year, he decided to play football at Lutheran for another year.
After playing in Lutheran, He played for the University of Jamestown. In the beginning, playing at Jamestown was tough for him. Nevertheless, he was hardworking and overcame many obstacles. Afterward, he flew back to China and played football on a club team while also teaching students football at the Skyway American Football Academy. However, because he wanted to return to the United States to play football, he applied for ASU and was accepted in 2019. In ASU, He had perfect punctuality and outstanding performances in his games and practices. His coach Shaun Aguano said, "He never makes mistakes. He does everything right.” During the coronavirus pandemic, the Sun Devils had Zoom meetings, and He would practice what he learned in a parking garage near him. He also taught his teammates about Chinese culture and words like 跑锋 (păofēng) and 冲 (chōng)--halfbacks, fullbacks, rush, and clash.
At first, He’s parents were not supportive of He playing football because they had concerns about his health and safety, but they eventually supported him. He’s hard work and persistence in playing football earned him honorable achievements for the Chinese community. He is currently studying the Health Lifestyles Coaching major because he wants to learn skills to help people in his home to exercise and have an active, healthy lifestyle. With pride for being chinese, He says: “I want to prove that Chinese can play really good football.”