Matt Bird hasn’t seen any like this before. As head coach of Grand Ledge high school, he gets to coach many great athletes as they move through their four years… but this one is a little different. James Jackson is entering his junior season as a name that is starting to make the rounds in recruiting circles. In short, Bird’s star player is about to blow up, but trying to keep him humble is not something this coach will have to expend a lot of energy on.
”He doesn’t want to separate himself from the rest of the team,” Bird reported. “He always wants to put the team first. They’ve asked for him to do radio interviews and he declines, he’s just a very humble kid.”
Jackson has only been playing football since 8th grade. Before that he was running track and “trying to play basketball,” he says. A varsity player since his freshman season, Jackson went both ways starting at both wide receiver and cornerback last fall as well as returning kicks. After racking up 40 receptions through 8 games, he was hit with pneumonia and missed the remaining games. He recovered fully for track season though, running a blistering 10.5 in the 100 meter dash to win the state title. All of this has brought about a slew of letters, visitors, and even a few offers to GLHS.
”There was a story here in the paper about him,” Bird said. “They asked if the Michigan offer was true and Michigan State and James just said, ‘the staffs at both (schools) are great.’ He doesn’t like to talk about his offers and he doesn’t want that getting out because it will separate him from his teammates.”
In Ann Arbor, a week back, Jackson was able to attend his first summer camp. He then attended the Western Michigan satellite combine, conveniently held at his own high school and turned heads at both.
”It was a good experience,” Jackson said of his trip to Ann Arbor. “There were some really good corners up there and I like Coach Campbell. He’s a real nice guy.”
Jackson says he wants to keep a low profile, blend in, and just be a regular kid. That is certainly more difficult when you run a 4.3 and have the kind of quick feet he has been blessed with. One thing that may happen, though, is an early decision. That would free Jackson from the busy nature of recruiting… but don’t expect anything too soon.
”I don’t know… I’ll definitely wait until my senior
season to decide,” he said.