"Well, he's been a basketball player most of his playing career since junior high," said Winton Woods head coach Troy Everhart. "We convinced him to come out as a junior, and he is very raw, but has tremendous athleticism -- a 35-in vertical from a standstill with two feet in the ground and no drop step, powercleans over 225, a parallel squat over 350… he's a receiver, and that tells you about his explosiveness. In terms of route running, early on he would just run deep and beat everybody. He's got incredible explosion and incredible burst while the ball's in the air.
"He's a very raw kid, but at the end of the year, he became very polished. Our WR coach did a heck of a job with him. He worked his butt off, and the kid wants to get better. He watches some film and critiques himself. The kid wants to be a great football player. He's an extreme competitor. He plays three sports; he goes from football from basketball to track, so he's a heck of an athlete."
"He's a good basketball player, but he's not a Big Ten basketball player, whereas he's a Big Ten receiver or better," he said.
Jamal is getting attention from some of the region's top programs.
"I think he's gotten letters from most of the Big Ten schools except Michigan and Michigan State and Indiana," Coach Everhart said. "All those other schools have (sent letters). Cincinnati obviously has contacted him, and we've seen some interest from Kentucky. The hand-written notes that I know he's gotten: one from Ohio State, one from Iowa, Minnesota, Purdue, Illinois, Pittsburgh, Kentucky and UC."
The coach said that Jamal is very interested in Ohio State.
"I'm sure Ohio State is number one," Coach Everhart said. "I think Purdue is number two right now because they throw the football. I have a friend in Oklahoma who's shown some interest; they haven't actively recruited him, but I know he'd be very interested in going to Oklahoma."
On and off-the-field, Jamal is a popular guy.
"He's dynamic, real engaging," Coach Everhart said. "He's a people guy. All the kids enjoy being around him. But he's a competitor at the same time. Competitors have a certain air about them. In my opinion, those guys that are born winners, and he's one of them. They carry themselves a little differently in the hallway around their friends. He does all the right things, and doesn't get in trouble in school… he's no fool. He knows how to get the job done in the classroom. He doesn't cause commotion. The kid's on the right path."
If you follow Ohio recruiting closely, you know that there are already several fine receivers (Fred Davis, Miles Williams, Michael Bell, Trumaine Smith) who are viewed as big-time prospects. Keep an eye on Jamal Akbar though because he certainly has the potential to jump right up the charts with those players. He's definitely one to watch this year.