During the spring and into the summer, www.floridakids.us will bring you our IN THE HUDDLE segments with football players throughout the state of Florida.
These are similar to the evaluations we pass on to the hundreds of colleges who visit our website, call us on the phone and correspond via e-mail.
Here is another top football player to keep an eye on this season – and beyond.
PLAYER: Joseph Jackson
POSITION: Defensive end/linebacker
SCHOOL: Miami Booker T. High School
40 SPEED: 4.5
HEAD COACH: Tim Harris
www.floridakids.us Pre-Spring Rating: Not rated
Today, we take a look at yet another athlete who doesn't receive the publicity he should.
While Miami-Dade County annually produces some of the best talent in the nation, and there are so many of them, sometimes a quality football player seems to fly way beneath the mythical radar screen.
This year, with the kind of powerhouse team the Tornadoes have, as Larry Blustein illustrated in his recent look at the rising seniors coach Harris and his team has, it will be impossible for colleges to miss quality football players like this – and others this team has.
STRENGTHS: Speed, speed and more speed are the best way to describe Jackson's game. He uses his speed off the edge to take advantage of slow footed offensive tackles.
What is most impressive about Jackson is he comes flying off the edge and is almost impossible for most offensive tackles to handle. He relies on a quick first step and gets up the field to get after the quarterback.
Whether it's standing up on the outside of putting his hand on the ground, Jackson better be accounted for on every play. If not he will make life a living nightmare for opposing offensive coordinators.
Where Jackson is also at his best is in space. He can go back into coverage and cover backs, receivers or even a tight end. That's what leads me to believe that at the next level, he could be a linebacker with his ability to read plays and move sideline-to-sideline.
WHAT HE NEEDS TO WORK ON: Jackson could use some more time in the weight room. While he is strong right now, he weighs only 200 pounds and to play defensive end in college that is not an ideal weight.
He has the frame to get up to around 225-230 but even at that weight Jackson may not be best suited to play defensive. While I just said that I could easily see him standing up as a linebacker, the question becomes can he make the successful transition to linebacker in college?
In the past, Miami-Dade County has seen many players with his size and weight heading into college struggle with the transition. Whether it's been the Weaver Twins at Miami Northwestern or James Dummerville at Miami Jackson, making the move to linebacker has not always been smooth.
OVERALL: One thing that is very hard for me to overlook, whether its high school, college or at the professional level football is production. That's exactly what Jackson brings to the table in every game. He makes plays all over the field and that's exactly what college coaches are looking for.
Another part of his game you can't overlook is Jackson's speed and quickness to the football. The only question is whether or not he can make a smooth transition to linebacker in college.
IN THE HUDDLE: Joseph Jackson
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