• John Macon Gillespie

Jackson Ready To Carry The Load For Columbus In 2017

The Columbus Falcons are losing plenty of rushing production from a season ago. It’s never easy to lose an incredible talent like Kylin Hill. However, that’s only the half of it for head coach Randal Montgomery’s bunch.

Kendre Conner, who averaged over 60 yards per game, and quarterback CJ Gholar are also moving on. Both were integral parts, alongside Hill, in the Falcons averaging 292 yards per game on the ground a season ago. Conner was second on the team with seven rushing touchdowns and Gholar scored five times on the ground.

In 2017 rising junior do-it-all playmaker Patrick Jackson is set to take over the leading rusher role.

“Seeing how he made big plays and raised his play in games with a lot on the line,” Jackson said when asked what he learned from Hill.

Jackson showed last season that he impact the game in a variety of ways, and isn’t just limited to being a ball carrier. He finished the season with 344 rushing yards, on over seven yards per carry, with five rushing scores and caught 16 passes for 197 yards and two scores.

“I just try to work on my craft as much as possible,” Jackson told SES Mississippi. “Finding ways to get better at everything I do. Whether it’s staying after workouts or practice, or finding new drills on YouTube that I can do.”

Last season for Jackson was highlighted by opportunity. At various points during the season both Hill and Conner missed time due to injury. That opened up carries for Jackson. Additionally, Columbus was able to manage a 6-6 record, while facing one of the state’s most difficult schedules.

“We went blow for blow with some of the best teams in the state,” He explained. “This year we just have to finish games and execute.”

“I kind of got a feel last year for what my senior year is going to be like. Kylin or Kendre was out when we played New Hope, Desoto Central and Olive Branch. The opportunity to get more touches made those my best games last year.”

Against Desoto Central Jackson used four carries to rush for 100 yards and two scores. He plans on producing like that on a more regular basis in 2017. In fact, next season he is aiming for at least 1,500 yards and 20 touchdowns.

“This time next year I want people to be saying ‘He’s one of the best running backs in the state, if not the best’,” Jackson stated.

“I’m confident, just knowing I’m one of the best backs in the state. This is the year to prove it. Playing with Kylin for two years, I didn’t get too many touches, but this is my year to carry the load. I’m determined to have a huge year and dominate whoever steps in front of me.”

Correcting mistakes made during the 2016 season is the first step towards the Falcons being better in 2017, according to Jackson.

“We let a lot of games slip away last year. We can’t let that happen this year,” He explained. “We could also use better team chemistry. Also, we need to step up our game when we play tougher opponents and execute when the game is on the line.”

This offseason Jackson will be working hard to improve his game. That will include “getting more creative with my route running,” improving his speed and agility.

He should be able to do just that when he shows up to compete against some of the best athletes in Mississippi at the Fortius Project.

“I’m drawn to Fortius because of the potential for exposure and the chance to compete with some of the best upcoming talent in the state,” He said. “I think my agility, quickness and confidence will help me thrive at the camp.”

**Photo by Chris McDill.

#Columbus #JohnLukeMcCord

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