The wide receiver had transferred to the Upper Marlboro school from Springbrook in the middle of his sophomore year only to suffer a broken collarbone weeks before the Pumas began their undefeated state championship run in football last fall. But Jackson decided to stew quietly in the background, not wanting to take away from what his new teammates were accomplishing.
In the midst of all that success came perspective, if only because the sheer amount of talent he had joined demanded it.
“I couldn’t dwell on the situation,” Jackson said Sunday. “I just had to come back better.”
His patience has been a boon for the defending Maryland 4A state champions, who are throwing the ball more than ever heading into Friday’s state title game rematch against Howard in the 4A state semifinals. Jackson, in particular, is enjoying the breakout campaign he spent an entire year dreaming about while healing.
He is now Wise’s leading receiver this fall after catching a combined 10 passes for 243 yards and five touchdowns in playoff wins over DuVal and Eleanor Roosevelt the past two weeks. The 6-foot-3 wideout added a new dimension to an already potent attack, emerging as the Pumas’ top blocking receiver and providing quarterback Jabari Laws with a tall option that can either out-run or out-jump defenders.
“I told Jabari he can throw the ball anywhere in my vicinity. I’m going to come down with it,” Jackson said of his recent surge. “And that pretty much just happened.”
In Friday’s 40-22 win over Eleanor Roosevelt in the Maryland 4A South region final, the Raiders elected to load the box and dare Wise to beat them through the air. The Pumas obliged, as Laws threw for a season-high 316 yards and three touchdowns after missing on several deep shots when the two teams faced off in the regular season.
This is how Wise’s undefeated run through 2016 is different than its dominance a year ago. Coach DaLawn Parrish believes his current group of receivers could end up leaving as the best in school history. In addition to Jackson, top 2018 recruit Anthony Lytton, Jr., fellow junior Demetri Morsell and senior Malcolm Sumler all have at least five touchdown catches this year. Sophomore Isaiah Hazel is also a threat and already has a scholarship offer from Maryland.
Laws, an Army recruit, has completed nearly 65 percent of his passes and already has more passing yards (1,980) and touchdowns (31) than he did last year.
“It’s kind of like QB heaven because I know any one-on-one matchup, I’ll take my guys over anybody,” Laws said.
But heading into this season, Jackson was the least heralded of the bunch simply because he hadn’t stepped foot on the field in almost two years. That distinction is changing rapidly, however.
Jackson said he has met with Parrish frequently in recent weeks with Division I schools beginning to inquire about his college plans. Suddenly, last year’s setback doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore.
“It was definitely worth the wait,” Jackson said.
Yards senior Christian Edelen ran on a second-quarter interception return for a touchdown to give Surrattsville the lead heading into halftime of Friday’s Maryland 1A North region final. The Hornets ultimately fell to top-seeded Havre de Grace, 19-14, after Havre de Grace connected on three field goals in the second half.
RB/LB Tayon Fleet-Davis, Potomac (Md.), Sr.
The Maryland recruit was a constant for the Wolverines as they gutted out a thrilling 34-32 triple overtime win against rival Oxon Hill in Saturday’s Maryland 3A South region final. Fleet-Davis finished with 92 rushing yards, 41 receiving yards and two touchdowns on offense, including Potomac’s final score. He also had two two-point conversions, none bigger than an improvised run on an attempted extra point that turned into the game-winning play in triple overtime. In addition, Fleet-Davis tied for the team lead with 10 tackles as a linebacker on defense.
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