It was most certainly not a normal Sunday in the life of Arkansas defensive tackle pledge Bijhon Jackson of El Dorado.
Jackson (6-3, 325) took his first plane ride, met Johnny Football and several NFL stars and got to see just about everything Nike has to offer as he arrived for The Opening at Nike Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.
"I was pretty scared on my first plane because I had never been on one," Jackson said. "I was not sure it was going to work for me at all. But on the second flight I was all good. It was very interesting.
Jackson is one of three Arkansans – along with Springdale Har-Ber defensive tackle Josh Frazier (6-4, 332) and North Little Rock cornerback Kavin Alexander (5-9, 180) – and 163 players overall on hand for The Opening.
"All three of us are here to do our very best and represent Arkansas in the best way we can," Jackson said.
The players arrived on Sunday, had a welcoming ceremony and got to meet some of the college players and NFL players who are on hand for the camp.
That included Texas A&M quarterback and 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, current NFL players Marshawn Lynch and Ndamukong Suh and former NFL and MLB stars Bo Jackson and Desmond Howard.
"It was amazing to meet those guys and be around them," Jackson said. "I am excited to get to work and learn from them."
The Opening's Monday schedule features the SPARQ Rating National Championship – which will be televised Monday night on ESPNU from 6-7:30 p.m.
SPARQ is an acronym for speed, power, agility, reaction and quickness and is a scoring system to gauge in athletic ability in a specific sport.
Alexander has the second highest score ever – a 148.17 that he put up at the Nike Dallas Combine in April.
That is second only to Plano (Texas) linebacker Mike Mitchell's 154.47.
ESPNU will also televise 7-on-7 pool competition Tuesday from 8-10:30 p.m. and then will have the 7-on-7 semifinals and final and the Lineman Challenge final Wednesday from 8-11 p.m.
"I'm in the best shape I have ever been in and I am ready for the one-on-one competition," Jackson said. "I want to make the Razorbacks proud."
There is no doubt that Jackson is all in when it comes to be fully committed.
"I am 100 percent committed, as committed as one person could be to a school," Jackson said. "I love the new Arkansas coaching staff. They are great coaches. I don't even care if they don't have a great year this year because I know what is going to happen in the future. They are going to make us one of the top programs in the country."
That would certainly be easier if Arkansas could land both Jackson and Frazier, a fellow U.S. Army All American who has the Razorbacks in his final five.
"He knows how dominant we could be together at Arkansas and I bring it up every once in a while, joking about it," Jackson said. "But I don't try to pressure him or hit him over the head with it. I think that would backfire.
"I do think in the end he is going to be with us, but he just wants to make sure and I understand that," added Jackson, who had 65 tackles last season, 6.5 tackles for lost yardage and one sack.
Jackson has been assigned a few of the Razorbacks' top recruiting targets – three of which happen to be at The Opening with him this week.
They are Frazier, Coppell (Texas) defensive end Solomon Thomas (6-3, 256) and Covington, La., defensive lineman Garrald McDowell (6-2, 255).
"I spent a lot of time with Garrald McDowell today," Jackson said. "I am just making sure these guys know how much we want them and how much we need them. We are going to have a great recruiting class."
Bret Bielema, Bijhon Jackson
Jackson's Big-Time Sunday
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