• John Macon Gillespie

Following Fantastic Freshman Season, Jackson Has Big Offseason Plans

On the field George County defensive lineman McKinnley Jackson is a fierce competitor, who admittedly enjoys trash talking his opponents. Away from the gridiron, he is man who is focused on his academics and his family.

On top of it all, Jackson has a unique drive and passion for the game of football. He not only possess the physical tools to be a great player, but he has a desire to be an unforgettable player.

“The attitude I have on the field is vicious. I go hard every play and the trash talk is on another level,” Jackson told SES Mississippi.

“I love to practice and watch film. I love to pay attention in class, and respect my fellow students and teachers. The little things are the most important. I find the process the hardest part, but the one that pays off the most.”

Three things that Jackson focuses on off the field are grades, which he calls his top priority, healthy lifestyle and being aware of his surroundings. His focus is easy to maintain because of his siblings, including his five-month old sister.

“Every thing and every move I make I think about my family. Whatever I do is going to benefit them in a good way. They mean the world to me and I can’t thank God enough for them,” He stated.

As a freshman in 2016 he faced talented offensive linemen like Paul Gainer, James Jackson, Jacob Shoemaker, Louis Smith and others. At season’s end he had tallied 60 tackles, 30 tackles for loss, 15 quarterback hurries, five forced fumbles, two and a half sacks, two rushing touchdowns and even a blocked field goal.

Even among a special senior class at George County, including Tyrese Fryfogle, LaRaymond Spivery, Dwan Williams and others, he stood out.

“I’m not them. I have to be myself and focus on what I have to do to be better, but humble like them,” Jackson explained. “At the end of the day, I’m proud of them.”

“At the beginning of the season I told myself I was tired of being scared of this game. If I have a deep passion for it, why should I fear it?”

Jackson was successful against some of the more talented offensive linemen he faced because he used the same approach as he does each play.

“When I go up against any opponent I think of it as rocket science,” He said. “I get to guys by them underestimating me. They see me and thing ‘oh, he’s just a big, soft freshman.’ But when the ball is snapped, it’s hard holding me for the rest of the game.”

“Don’t let my size fool you. I tell myself that my opponent is my prey and I’m going to hunt him down every time. I can play any position in the box. I actually run a 4.84 40-yard dash.”

Getting to where he is today, like the development of his football skills, has been a process. Though most would consider Jackson a mature young man, at this point, he admits that wasn’t always the case.

“At a point, I was class clown. I still did my work, but I became a bit of a troublemaker,” He said. “I took a few steps back and realized that is not who I am. I didn’t want to be part of the crowd, I want to be my own crowd.”

“At that point, my focus changed to football, instead of just some laughs from people.”

Looking back at last season, Jackson is proud of what the Rebels were able to accomplish.

“I thought we had the best team at George County in the las five, after a six-year playoff draft,” Jackson stated. “Our quarterback having nation-known stats and a new coaching staff that changed our fans’ opinions.”

Jackson is greatly optimistic about what his team can accomplish in the coming season. As he moves into a leadership role, with so many key figures graduating, he has a few expectations.

“Next year is going to be epic. We are coming with swagger, purpose and will power,” Jackson said. “I expect the same from my team as they expect from me. Never regret a missed tackle or block. Always think about what benefits your team in a good or bad way. And be a role model at school.”

This coming season he expects to get time at defensive line and linebacker. Additionally, he’s trying to gain weight and speed. He says he’s already lost 10 pounds this offseason from running and playing other sports.

He plans to attend the Fortius Project in 2017. Again, he will be in a position to be tested by his most talented peers on the offensive line. So needless to say, he’s looking forward to the opportunity.

**Photo courtesy of Mark Magee

#GeorgeCountyRebels #JohnLukeMcCord

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