Woodgrove junior Jordan “J.J.” Jackson received another Football Bowl Subdivision scholarship offer, his third in eight days, on Wednesday. The Ohio Bobcats joined Old Dominion and Hampton as programs pursuing Jackson.
Not bad for a converted basketball player with one season of high school football under his belt.
Jackson gave up football after his eighth grade year, preferring to focus on basketball. A 6-foot-4 forward with soft hands, he reconsidered donning football pads before his junior year at the Purcellville school. Jackson let his intentions be known to his friend Josh Sweet, the Wolverines’ standout running back.
Around the same time, in spring 2012, Coach Mike Skinner was preparing for his first year as the head of Woodgrove’s football program. While surveying the weight room, he ran into Sweet, who told him about a friend who wanted to try out for football.
Once Skinner got Jackson — who has a 35-inch vertical leap according to the coach — in his office, it didn’t take long for Skinner to close the deal closed the deal.
“What made me want to play again was Coach Skinner, him telling me that I was a scholarship player,” Jackson said.
Skinner placed Jackson at defensive end, where the junior could use his raw athleticism to rush the passer without being encumbered by complex responsibilities.
In 11 games, Jackson compiled 12 sacks, racked up 82 tackles and put performances on film that have solicited scholarship offers and invitations to visit Virginia, Virginia Tech, Maryland and Penn State for football camps. Jackson is also a stellar student receiving interest from the Ivy League.
With help from its new defensive stalwart, Woodgrove went 5-3 in AA Dulles District play and 7-4 overall, advancing to the AA Region II Division 4 playoffs for the first time.
“By the end of the year he really figured it out,” Skinner said. “He became a tremendous player. Now in the offseason he’s in the weight room working as hard as any kid we have.”
Jackson said he weighed about 180 pounds before he picked up football. Since that time, he’s packed on close to 40 pounds by adhering to a 5,000 calorie-a-day diet. A typical breakfast might consist of four Eggo waffles, two eggs, a glass of milk and a side of potatoes, followed by a nutritional shake before lunch.
All the effort is geared toward surpassing his junior season totals and garnering more offers in 2013. Jackson will continue to play defensive end while seeing some reps at outside linebacker, tight end and even wide receiver according to Skinner.
While Skinner is excited about the prospect of Jackson playing a skill position, for now schools such as Ohio are recruiting him as the defender they see on Hudl.com highlight videos.
Jackson will travel to Athens, Ohio, on Feb. 23 so the Bobcats’ coaching staff can verify his measurable before extending an official offer.
Chalk that up as one more experience Jackson never imagined for himself.
“If you would have told me this a couple of months ago, I would have never believed it,” Jackson said. “It’s weird, but I’m also enjoying it at the same time.
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