Arkansas 2019 WR target Jadon Jackson shines at Southwest Elite

By: Dudley E. Dawson
Published: Friday, July 14, 2017
Jadon Jackson
Photo by Dudley E. Dawson
Jadon Jackson

— He may not have exactly been West Philadelphia born and raised, but junior wide receiver Jadon Jackson might as well be The Fresh Prince of Bentonville West.

Jackson (6-1, 170), one of four 2019 Arkansas in-state prospects with Razorback offers, grew up in York, PA., just outside of Philadelphia.

He moved to Arkansas before he entered the ninth grade to live with his grandma when his mom basically thought there were some guys who were up to no good and started making trouble in his neighborhood.

“She just wanted me to be in safer place and my grandma had lived in Centerton for 11 years and so I ended up going to Bentonville West,” Jackson said after playing in a Southwest Elite 7-on-7 tournament game on Friday morning. “It’s been really fun, was a good move for me because there are a lot of great people here it and has really worked out for me. I love all of my teammates and I’ve got great coaches.”

Jackson had 59 catches for 916 yards and 9 touchdowns in a breakout sophomore campaign for the first-year program that went 3-8 overall, but made the state playoffs before losing to Cabot 64-34.

“It was fun, but kind of difficult because we didn’t have any seniors,” Jackson said. “We had to work through that, push through that and just had to get better as a team as the season went on since we were so young and playing against older guys.

That sophomore performance garnered him offers from Arkansas, Arizona State, Memphis, Missouri and Tulsa.

Arkansas was his second offer after Tulsa got to the table with one first.

“Arkansas is a really great school with a lot of nice coaches and I like (wide receivers) Coach (Michael) Smith, Coach (Barry) Lunney and Razorback head Coach (Bret) B(ielema),” Jackson said. “They all make me feel very welcomed and I really appreciate that.”

He’s certainly in no hurry to narrow his list or think of committing right away.

“I am just worried more about high school football than recruiting right now,” Jackson said. “Our goals is to make the state. I am pretty sure we can make it if we just out in the work.”

Jackson’s arrival two years ago coincided with the opening of Bentonville West High School and the hiring of head football coach Byran Pratt.

Pratt has the most experienced team in the 7A-West side he had no seniors last season.

“We have all 22 starters coming back and we also have four move-ins who are going to end up starting for us so I guess we have 26 starters back,” Pratt said.

“The thing that made it better for us as a first-year program is that they hired me a year in advance and I got to coach the guys as freshmen that were feeding into my program.

“When we came in and started the program those guys had already been with us for six months and it really helped us in regards to where we were at in the program, how they understood our scheme and what we expected.

“It helped and was a lot of fun that we were not going into a gunfight with a knife.”

He saw Jackson’s arrival as a gift from above.

“He has proven over the last two years that he is not only a great player on the football field, but also as far as his maturity level what kind of kid he is,” Pratt said. “He has really clicked into being a phenomenal player for us.”

Pratt is helping Jackson through the recruiting process.

“We have sit down and talked about it,” Pratt said. “I used to coach in Texas so we have had plenty of kids down there that had offers and I’ver dealt with it before.

“Those offers are great and all, but all we have to tell them is that something isn’t going right that there will amazingly disappear. He understands that, but I have never had a problem with him. He understands and gets it. He has never been a guy that has come over and said ‘get me the ball more.’

“He understands the scheme of football a little bit more than most kids do and knows if he is being double-teamed somebody else is going to be able to take advantage of it. He is all about his teammates and that makes him a special player.”

Jackson has been making some unofficial visits to Arkansas and other places and will be in Tuscaloosa on Sunday.

“I talk to him about where he wants to go, things he wants to do,” Pratt said. “He goes to Alabama on Sunday. He will probably be a little tired because we have had a two-day team camp and we have this for the next two days and then he is going to Alabama for their camp.”

Pratt likes the development he has seen from from Jackson on and off the field.

“He is becoming a whole lot better leader,” Pratt said. “He has always been an athlete that you can get the ball in his hands and make plays, but he didn’t like blocking so much when he was younger. Now he is one of our best blockers in the open field.

“He works hard and will do whatever you ask him to do. As long as he continues to do that, his future is extremely bright.”

“He understands the game enough to know how ‘I’ve got to get leverage, how I’ve got to stem a route, where I have got to get to make a catch. It is hard to teach that and he just naturally understands it.”

Pratt also loves Jackson’s temperament.

“He doesn’t mind being a little physical, but he does not get into trash-talking,” Pratt said. “We’ll go to some of this 7-on-7s and some guy with offers will start chirping and he doesn’t get into that and doesn’t let it bother him.”

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