One Of Nation's Best Signs With MSU

J.Z. George High School, located in a small town just a few miles east of the Mississippi Delta called North Carrollton, is a place most of you have probably never heard of. But that may change during the next two to three years thanks to a slender 6-6, 185-pound high jumper by the name of Marcus Jackson.

Marcus quietly signed a national letter of intent with Mississippi State on May 21st. There were no newspapers or even internet sites at the signing. He simply faxed his NLI in and quietly walked to his first class.

But when it comes to his sport, there is nothing quiet about the young man.

Participating in track, he recently set a state of Mississippi record in the high jump, beating the 7-2 high jump that current Ole Miss freshman Ricky Robertson set last year by .25 of an inch. And Marcus did it in just his second year of participating in track.

"I've been doing track for two years and I started the high jump last year," said Marcus, who currently has the 5th best high jump in the prep ranks this year. "My coach (Heath Dudley) wanted me to try it out, so I tried it and I ended up liking it. And I just worked at it."

Coach Dudley explained what he saw in Marcus that made him believe he would be a very good high jumper.

"Watching him play basketball was why I felt he would be a good high jumper," said Dudley. "He is a slender 6-6 guy who explodes off the floor. He just absolutely explodes off the ground. There are not many people, once they leave the ground, that can get up as fast as he does. And that's something you kind of look for in a high jumper."

Even as a novice trackster last year, Marcus had great success, high jumping 6-8. But what happened this year surprised everybody, including his coach.

"You can probably be a decent high school jumper doing 6-2, 6-4, but we didn't expect 7-2 or anything like that," said Dudley. "But once he jumped the 6-8 his first year and we didn't do a whole lot, just teach him a simple approach, we could tell that he had a lot of natural God-gifted ability."

Dudley believes there is even more in Marcus.

"At State he is probably going to primarily focus on high jumping," he said. "Here, he does a lot of things for us. He triple jumps, high jumps, long jumps and does different races for us. So, he has a lot of things going on before he even high jumps and that takes a lot out of his legs."

With rested legs and better training, Dudley believes a national championship could be in the cards for Marcus.

"We truly believe that this is a young man who can be a 7-6 to 7-8 high jumper and an NCAA champion," said Dudley, who has seen Marcus earn All-State the last two years and the Pop Star State Track and Field Athlete of the Year this year. "The sky is the limit for this young man because he is truly, truly gifted. And once he gets better coaching and gets more weight work, he is going to surprise a lot of people."

But there is one group of people that won't be surprised - the Mississippi State coaching staff - because they've liked what they've seen of him since last year.

"They were looking at me last year, but they really starting looking at me this year when I started jumping better," said Marcus. "They were mainly the only school that recruited me."

And Marcus couldn't be happier because he is about to live a dream he probably never even had up until this year.

"I am overwhelmed by it all," said Marcus. "I would have never thought that I would be able to go to that big of a school."

Now he hopes to help put Mississippi State, currently ranked No. 9 in the country in the latest track and field poll, in the race for a national championship or two in the coming years. And if he does that, then a lot of folks who have never heard of J.Z. George High School will be going onto the internet and checking out MapQuest to find out exactly where it is, especially all those college coaches that didn't take the time to look up J.Z. George the last two years.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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