During these endless hours of college football recruiting coverage, a lot of prospects are categorized by their ranking and the type of headlines they could potentially produce. Shedrick Jackson has long been covered because of some former Heisman winner and all-time great in his family. But over the last year or so, it has changed.
Jackson is covered because he is a rock solid prospect who programs coast to coast would celebrate if in the position Auburn was in Monday, landing the Hoover (Ala.) wide receiver. Both on the field and off of it, there is plenty to like about the newest Tiger commitment and Scout takes a deeper look.
The first thing one realizes in spending time with Jackson is his demeanor. The way he carries himself embodies why Hoover High has been a perennial state champion program, valuing discipline and hard work. There is a focus and quiet confidence about the rising senior that is as consistent as his play is. The Bucs don't throw it all over the yard like most spread offenses do at the prep level, emphasizing the running game first, where Jackson contributes as a strong and consistent blocker. The kid is a football player, not just a wide receiver.
When it comes to his primary duties of catching he ball, he more than holds his own. At 6-foot-2, 200 pounds or so, he is a physical specimen and it shows up on tape. He also has strong hands and catches passes away from his body, so Jackson can make plays even with out separation. Don't take that compliment as a lack of speed, though, as he has trimmed his 40-yard dash time all offseason, including clocking sub 4.4 seconds at Auburn camp in June. When looking to come out of his stance and gain ground vertically, it matches up in pads, as he gets to top speed quickly and runs with minimal wasted movement. Jackson also routinely shows the ability to make plays in traffic and up over the top, with good body control and leaping ability in order to high point the football over defenders.
As we opened the piece with, Jackson has also dealt with the Bo Jackson talk throughout the process. In recruiting, it typically goes one of two ways, either prospects use it to their advantage and don't improve or they end up deflecting it with their own play and make the conversation dive deeper than their name. This Hoover Buc has done the latter and it has carried over onto other parts of the evaluation. He doesn't go diva mode when the ball doesn't come his way, not even when he is open and the passer misfires (see video above). He contains most frustrations and gets back to the huddle for the next play.
At least publicly, Jackson checks a lot of boxes on and off the field in addition to having SEC level talent.
Areas for Improvement
Jackson has made a lot of strides in the last six months or so, specifically with his speed. But like in the most common test to measure said improvement, the 40, his improvement is in his vertical speed. He isn't showcased as an underneath target at the high school level at this time, so there isn't a lot of tape to go on, but when he isn't looking to gain ground and get vertical, he doesn't wow in the speed department. Part of the reason could be a lack of route-running polish and lateral power, which could be attributed in part to his lack of participation in 7-on-7, camp and combine events in the offseason compared to other top talents.
As a route runner, he can improve on how well he can drive off of his outside foot on inside routes as well as setting up defenders in the stem of his route. This conflicts with one of his strengths, which is making plays with physicality and in traffic, so essentially a weakness leads to what becomes a strength. As he hits the next level and defensive backs are closer to being able to match his physicality, he will need to create separation with more than speed. Jackson is capable as a route runner in the traditional tree, and he flashes solid agility, but he can polish up his game with the subtle movements that can sometimes create extra space needed on third downs and in the red zone.
Following the catch, Jackson's speed traits carry over to his progress with the football already in his hands. When he is navigating north and south, his speed and power make it tough for defenders to deal with. His very good awareness combines well with this ability, as he can use the athleticism and body control for that extra yard or to cross the goal line. But Jackson isn't as elusive as he tests laterally or in the open field when looking to avoid contact. He can use power moves more times than not and get by, but playing with more flexible hips would allow him to avoid defender contact, too.