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Everyone's mad, pogs are cool again, Michigan has acquired another small fast guy: what is this, the Rich Rod era? With Don Brown? Would that be good or bad?
|3*, 5.7 rating
#7 APB, #43 CA
|3*, 79 rating
#42 ATH, #52 CA
|4*, #213 overall
#3 APB, #27 CA
|4*, #362 overall
#5 APB, #45 CA
ESPN provides no explanation; 24/7 has a boatload of stuff; Rivals didn't have any rating for him until about a month ago and is generally more conservative/less aware with moves than 24/7. The only scouting they have is the "hey this guy committed" article and it mostly talks about how he's a short person who can play slot and RB but might be too small to be a feature back, with little in the way of useful detail.
Jackson is a combine star and ultra-quick guy who thrives in 7 on 7 situations, and he hit up a ton of both over the past year or so to pump his stock up to where it is now. He first popped up on the radar after participating in the underclass portion of the Army game week:
The 2019 recruit was uncoverable with his quick first step, showing the explosiveness you want to see in a slot running back type.
He had the top time in one of the agility events. From there it's a litany of 7-on-7 yee haw:
- "...explosive and shifty and made it a long day for linebackers trying to stop him in the cat-and-mouse. He then worked with the receivers, where he likely will end up as a slot receiver in college, and showed that same burst off the ball and caused issues for the defensive backs.."
- "...has excelled at every event we've been to ... may have been the best we've seen all spring on Sunday. In one game, he had four touchdowns, a 2-point conversion and an interception and neared 20 scores on the day."
- "...among the most explosive players, not just out west but in the country. He earned a lot of all-tournament mention following his performance and was the top slot receiver in the event that we saw. He can play running back or receiver in college and is a natural pass catcher with great open field wiggle in the open field and the ability to make you miss in the open field."
- "Jackson is one of the fastest players in attendance [at the Opening]. He’s also one of the most versatile. He can line up in the backfield or in the slot and is a scary mismatch. His 12 catches were tied for the second most from pool play and he also added a touchdown. He’s just a space nightmare."
It was only in the midst of this blitz that Jackson started picking up major attention; when he was named the MVP of his local Opening regional he still hadn't landed any P5 offers. Oregon only stepped in in mid-June, and the floodgates opened from there. A couple of weeks later Jackson narrowed his list to Oregon, USC, Oregon State, and Michigan.
[After THE JUMP: zero fakes]
A couple of weeks after that Jackson put up the top offensive SPARQ score at the Opening thanks to a 4.43 40 and 3.85(!) shuttle. 24/7 put him on their All-Opening team as a slot because of his "unique speed and versatility." Greg Biggins, the analyst most proximate to Jackson, doubled down on that assessment in one of those post-commit scouting posts:
He’s extremely versatile and can play running back, slot receiver or even cornerback/nickel on the defensive side of the ball. He was recruited to play in the slot by Michigan ... catches the ball very well and is a very tough cover because of his quickness and ability to explode in and out of his breaks. He’s dynamic in space and routinely makes 2-3 defenders miss every time he touches the ball. ... primarily a running back as a junior so he’ll need some time to get up to speed on running the full route tree.
Virtually none of this scouting is in an Actual Football context because Jackson came out of his junior year as a nondescript three star nobody was talking about. Hopefully we'll get some addendums to the above over the course of the fall.
USC and Oregon are both impressive West Coast offers, the latter especially relevant given the kind of player Jackson is. In addition to Oregon State, Florida, Cal, and Colorado also threw their hat in. Jackson's quick ascent from "guy with SJSU offer" to "best slot WR at the Opening" and similarly quick decision to announce a final four limited the window in which teams would toss out offers in case he was interested.
Oakley's Freedom High School hasn't sent anyone else to Michigan recently. This is unfortunate because if there's a school in the country more relevant to your author's twitter avatar I'd be surprised.
Jackson was very much a running back in his junior year but was a receiver the year prior:
Jackson put on an impressive junior season at Freedom, rushing for 1,586 yards and 22 TDs in 12 games, averaging 7.2 yards per carry. He also caught 21 passes for 324 yards and five more scores. Jackson also had a kickoff return for a score on his way to 2,288 all-purpose yards. His sophomore season he racked up 842 receiving yards and 13 TDs.
FAKE 40 TIME
Jackson's 4.43 was recorded at the Opening and thus is the rare sub-4.5 to get zero fakes. Even if it's generous it is still superior to the large majority of the top recruits in the country.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Jackson is a weird pull for Michigan, which already has APB Eric Gray and QB-who-projects-to-slot George Johnson III in the class. That would be a waterbug surplus at Oregon, let alone one of the fullbackiest programs in all the land. Gray has a couple of SEC visits set and may be a flip candidate. In that case the Jackson acquisition makes more sense.
It's still a bit odd. Michigan has had a few shifty playmaker types in the post-Rich-Rod era and barely used them. Chris Evans is the only gent of that variety to have more than a token role. If Michigan's move to more of a shotgun orientation has some post-Patterson staying power, and if Jackson catches the eye sufficiently as a running back, and if Michigan does actually throw the ball to Evans a bunch over the next couple years, then you can project a meaty role for Jackson. That's a lot of ifs.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Jackson shuts the door for any other waterbug slot types and may in fact be Michigan reading the writing on the wall about Gray. If Gray does end up sticking Jackson is Michigan's 22nd commit in the class and certainly the final skill position player who is not an outside receiver.