LAKE BUENA VISTA– It’s down to six schools for ATH Adoree’ Jackcon (5-10, 182, Gardena, CA Junipero Serra) and Florida is one of them.
The five-star athlete hasn’t been to Gainesville since July when he spent three days touring the campus and facilities while attending Friday Night Lights but said he saw all he needed to see from Florida on the trip. That includes the Florida track program, which is of prime concern for Jackson who has his eyes set as much on playing football on Sundays as he does the medal stand in the summer of 2016. The amount of opportunities a school affords him athletically as well as relationship wise is what Jackson says will set one school apart from all the others.
“[The] Relationship I have with the teammates and then the players and then my after life and how I feel like I can get ready for the next level,” Jackson said. “The NFL and the Olympics, how they’re going to develop me. I’m not going to think about short term and tomorrow I’ve got to think about the future.”
For Jackson, track is a must for any school he attends and he says a goal of his is to win a national championship in both track and football. Jackson is truly an all-world athlete who can play cornerback or wide receiver just as well as he can long jump, the main track and field event he participates in.
On December 6th, Florida defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson visited Jackson’s parents and saw him play in his team’s state championship game that evening. Jackson, who is used to on field success, isn’t worried about a struggling Florida program.
“For me, I’m not too shy or too afraid to go in somewhere and rebuild because I know the program isn’t too close to being at the top,” Jackson said.
He might take a visit to Gainesville before he heads home after the Under Armour All-America game but that’s up to his parents.
Practice for the game began on Sunday with Jackson spending his time primarily as a cornerback, and he was intent on getting into a rhythm, but found it difficult at times.
“[Day one] I think I did pretty good in 1-on-1s I was doing my thing the only thing I didn’t like is the rotation,” Jackson said. “We got too many corners and so once you been out for a certain amount of plays you get a little lackadaisical and get a little sleep. Other than that everything was fine with me. I love competing against the best receivers and I just want to go against the other guys on the other team.”
On day one he worked on playing with a relaxed attitude and trying to let the game flow naturally to him, not trying to think too much about what he had to do. He is accountable for his mistakes, including giving up a touchdown pass to wide receiver Speedy Noil on a double-move. Jackson mistook a coach standing in the endzone for safety help behind him by mistake and owned up to his gaff, calling it a communication error after the practice.
In practice number two, Jackson didn’t have many opportunities for balls to be caught on him because he wasn’t thrown at much. It’s partially a reflection of Jackson’s own skills and he appreciates the respect but knows that the cold shoulder he gets from quarterbacks comes with a caveat.
“I mean it feels good to get that respect, you know they’re not throwing it your way,” Jackson said. “But sometimes it’s a bad thing because you get to sleep and you fall asleep a little bit so you just gotta stay on top of your toes. But you know I like the respect and I respect the quarterbacks we see as well because if they throw the ball they’re going to try to put it on the money.”
Despite not getting much hands on work in 7-on-7 drills, Jackson is working hard on little things. He has the benefit of being tutored by one of the best to ever play the cornerback position and mentioned that when rehashing how he got better from day one to day two.
“Just picking up the technique with Deion Sanders I’m just really trying to focus and concentrate on everything,” Jackson said. “Pick up the stuff he had to say and focus a little more on my backpedal and staying low.”
Jackson says the best thing about Sanders is that Sanders has been where he is now, and he’s confident the NFL veteran won’t steer him wrong.
Although he had two very different days of practice to begin his Under Armour game week, Jackson gave Gator Country the same evaluation of his own performance, one that leaves the all-world athlete much room for improvement in his own mind.
“I still give myself a C,” Jackson said.
He may be giving himself a C in practice, but there’s no doubt he’ll be on his A game Thursday afternoon when the 2014 Under Armour game kicks off.