The recruitment of a high school athlete can be a strange thing. For some, they get on coaches’ radar as a freshman or a sophomore through their accomplishments on the field or at camps and their popularity among schools just continues to grow. For others it can be a as a junior, or even as a senior after an incredible or noteworthy season.
Then there’s the outlier story, which is the case with Portal’s Amir Jackson. Known more for his thunderous dunks in helping the Portal basketball team to a pair of Elite-8 finishes in two of his first three years of playing for the Panthers. Jackson’s stock skyrocketed during the basketball season, but not as a basketball recruit, but rather as a football player.
Jackson’s first Division-1 scholarship offer came from Georgia Southern in January of last year. The first Power-5 offer for the 6-5, 220-pound receiver came from Indiana in October. Things really took off when the first SEC offers came from Kentucky and Florida at the end of January.
Shortly thereafter Jackson announced he received offers from Florida State, The University of Miami, Virginia Tech, Georgia, Tennessee and eventually Alabama in April. He went from a 1-star player to a 4-star player without having played a football game.
“It’s honestly been a little overwhelming,” Jackson said. “It really took off and got kind of crazy there for a bit once Georgia offered me, but I feel like I’m handling it pretty good. Having these coaches come to Portal to see me and watch me go through some drills has been fun.”
Not only are the coaches coming to Portal, Jackson has also had a lot of fun visiting campuses throughout the Southeast and seeing some pretty impressive facilities.
“I have seen some really cool places and met coaches I have only seen on television,” Jackson said. “Being able to go to the locker rooms and put on a uniform from these big-time schools has been a lot of fun too. Touring the campuses is also interesting to see how big they are and how much they have to offer.”
Jackson has been able to take many of his visits with teammate Elijah Coleman. The 5-9 quarterback has been getting quite a bit of interest as well at wide receiver and cornerback and Jackson says it has made the visits more special.
“Having Elijah around makes me feel even more comfortable,” Jackson said. “He has also made it a lot more fun since we are so close and he has a little more sense of humor to make things feel more relaxed.”
Jackson has also turned to Portal head coach Jason McEachin for advice during the process. Jackson says he has appreciated McEachin being with him throughout the process and knows he has his best interest in mind.
For McEachin he has enjoyed mentoring Jackson as well as the publicity it has brought the small Portal community.
“We have had some major colleges come through here and the attention Amir has gotten has also helped players like Elijah and Liam Fordham get some interest as well,” McEachin said. “The thing about Amir is he is such a good kid in addition to being so talented. I think one of the things that has helped him in getting these offers is when they come here and meet him and see how humble and talented he is it is pretty unique.”
Jackson has yet to make a commitment, but that is another thing McEachin says he has really preached to Amir is waiting until he is sure to decide.
“I feel like the most important advice I have given Amir is to trust in God and pray about everything and wait until he is sure of where he wants to go,” McEachin said. “I told him when he is sure, that is when he should tell the coaches and stick with his decision. It is a lot for a young man to be going through but I feel he has handled it in a mature way ad with a lot of class.”