Richard Davenport has been a recruiting columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette since 2007.
The Recruiting Guy:
Conway's Jackson a year older and better
8/11/14 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/STEPHEN B. THORNTON Conway High School's offensive lineman Colton Jackson during practice Monday in Conway.
CONWAY This time last year, Conway offensive lineman Colton Jackson, an Arkansas commitment, was preparing to start his first regular season game as a Wampus Cat.
"I think I have advanced a lot," said Jackson after Tuesday’s scrimmage against North Little Rock. “But I still have a lot of work to do.”
Jackson, 6-6, 304, 5.3 seconds in the 40 yard dash, played behind Bryton Booher as a sophomore and weighed about 250 until he added 45 pounds during the offseason while giving up basketball to focus on the gridiron. Video highlights CLICK HERE
Arkansas tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr. and offensive line coach Sam Pittman visited the school during last year’s spring evaluation period and came way impressed with his athleticism and ability to bend.
After attending Arkansas’ Elite Camp in July, Jackson received a scholarship offer from the Hogs and committed the next day without a starting a game in high school.
"He's a great coach," said Jackson of Pittman. "I can't wait to have him coach me up and get me ready. He's a cool coach. He puts everything in a way for us to understand.”
He graded out at 84 precent and had 18 knockdown blocks and earned a spot on the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette All Arkansas team as a junior.
A year of maturity and working with offensive line coach Brooks Hollingsworth, who has 32 years college coaching experience, has aided his development.
“I think it’s harder to confuse him with what he’s seeing with the defensive line and linebackers,” Conway Coach Clint Ashcraft said. “He has a good grasp of where he’s suppose to fit in what ever play we have called.”
In college, Jackson will go against players more his size, but he's adjusting to blocking much smaller linemen and linebackers in high school.
"I have got to stay low and get under their pads because it’s easy for them to get under my pads," Jackson said. "I'm so tall, I just have to play low.”
Charging Wildcats’ receiver K.J. Hill will make his college decision on Friday. Jackson said he hasn’t spoken to Hill about being a Hog, but hopes he joins him in Fayetteville.
"He's a good player,” Jackson said. “He's got a lot of opportunities. He's a great player so it would be great to have him at the University of Arkansas. He could probably do a lot of great things at the university.”
Jackson has never wavered in his commitment to Arkansas, but that hasn’t stopped Missouri, Tulsa and Nebraska from recruiting him.
"I'm still committed to Arkansas," Jackson said.
Conway doesn’t select team captains but Jackson knows he has a leadership role.
“I’m not just playing for myself, but also playing to set an example for the players coming up,” Jackson said. “If I mess up and have a bad game and have an attitude then I'm just setting a bad example.”