SOUTHERN CRESCENT CO-DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Javon Jackson
SCHOOL: Sandy Creek Patriots
THE VITALS: 5-foot-11, 180 pounds
2015 STATS: Jackson snagged seven interceptions from his safety position to go along with his 32 tackles. He was a threat on special teams, averaging close to 30 yards per kickoff return on 20 yards per punt return. He caught 11 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown and also added one rushing and passing touchdown apiece.
WHY JACKSON: The Duke commit was arguably the biggest reason why an otherwise young Sandy Creek squad made another good postseason run. As the heart and soul of his team, Jackson showed a knack for shifting momentum in games with big plays on offense, defense and special teams. The three-star prospect had 15 offers from the likes of 2014 college football national champion Ohio State, Ole Miss, Tennessee and North Carolina. Sandy Creek coach Chip Walker referred to him throughout the season as the nucleus for his team’s performance. Jackson helped lead the Patriots to a 9-3 finish and a second round playoff appearance. He received the most votes in our Twitter poll for the area’s top player.
Q&A With Jackson
SCBuzz: How does it feel to receive all the honors that you’ve received this season?
JACKSON: “It feels pretty good. You know, since ninth grade coaches have been pushing me to work real hard. My teammates push me hard every time — both the ones who are here and the ones from back in the day. It’s nice to know that the hard work has paid off in the end.”
SCBuzz: You’ve made a great jump from last year to this year. How did that happen for you?
JACKSON: “Through my senior year it was more film. I watched a lot of film. Coaches always told me I had the athletic ability, but that I needed to become more of a student of the game. So watching film more showed me how to make playing the game easier. That was the main focus for me.”
SCBuzz: What’s the biggest challenge you saw your team having to work through?
JACKSON: “Biggest challenge was we had a lot of young guys playing. They were good but sometimes inexperience took its toll. We had some things that didn’t go our way, and I still believe we were a pretty good team. I still believe we were the best team in the state. We just had some miscues in our losses.”
SCBuzz: And your biggest challenge personally?
JACKSON: “I think it goes back to the athletic ability. I do believe I’m the best athlete on the field, but the best athlete can get beat if he doesn’t train himself. For me that was training my eyes to do stuff like watching my keys and knowing what it means to diagnosis a run or pass.”
SCBuzz: What has Sandy Creek taught you that you know you’ll be able to take to the next level?
JACKSON: “It mainly taught me to work hard. You know, someone’s always out there who’s better than you every day. So you just work hard. Don’t let the fame get to you. They, along with my dad, taught me how to be a man.”
SCBuzz: How soon before you knew the Duke offer was thee offer for you?
JACKSON: “It was very exciting especially because the coaches there are genuine and they acted like they really wanted me. It always makes it exciting when the team’s coaches act like they really want you, and to me that was the deciding factor.”
SCBuzz: From a team perspective, give us the highlight of your season:
JACKSON: “Maybe when we played Auburn (Ala.). We had just came off the Jonesboro loss two games ago, and we felt like that was a fluke. So we felt like we had to come out and bounce back, so we beat them pretty good at their house.”
SCBuzz: Which one of your best plays of the season should’ve made SportsCenter?
JACKSON: “I’d have to say it was my receiving touchdown against North Hall in the first round (of the playoffs). I caught a 50 yard vert route across the field and spun off a guy and made another guy miss on the way to the end zone, so that’s probably it for me.”
SCBuzz: What was up with that Jonesboro Twitter Rivalry? Seems like afterward you guys showed great respect for each other.
JACKSON: “Oh, we had mutual respect for them even going into the game, but you can’t really show nobody that you respect them like that. But actually there are still some guys on Jonesboro’s team that I feel are slept on. Like the d-tackle Kali and the running back (Montralius Mosley) are both pretty good. Of course the quarterback’s (Zerrick Cooper) not slept on. He got what he deserved. I was cheering for them and hoping they made it far in the playoffs, but then again that’s because I wanted to play them one more time too.”
SCBuzz: What are you looking forward to most at Duke?
JACKSON: Just the whole college experience thing, and getting on the field and making my family proud. The coaches at Duke are giving me a chance to play early next year, so I’m going to go out and make the best of it and hopefully you can expect to see me out there next year.”
SCBuzz: What legacy do you feel like you left behind for the up-and-comers at Sandy Creek?
JACKSON: “We’ve got a lot of good young guys like safety Mike Jenkins, he’s real good. Guys like (Jaelen) Green, Marvin (Hubbard) all go hard in weight room. I think we helped show them how to do that so that isn’t an issue. But I think mainly they saw from us that a lot of success is in the details. Just watching film and doing the little things to make themselves better.”
SCBuzz: If no football?
Finding ways to chill with my family. I’m a family guy and I like when I can be able to bond with them.”