• John Macon Gillespie

Lake Cormorant Head Coach Says His Star Tailback Is A Beast

Football is an extremely physical game. Well, duh. Even with numerous rules changes being implemented to limit the brutality of the sport, athletes are simply getting bigger, stronger and, well, more athletic.

Due to that fact, the feature back is close to extinct. Sure, plenty of guys still throw up gaudy rushing numbers while taking the bulk of the carries, but most teams use multiple backs or have a mobile quarterback to help out in the running game.

Last season Lake Cormorant rising senior running back Brian Jackson proved he has the chops to tote the load. During the Gators’ impressive playoff run, that featured wins over Vicksburg and Clarksdale, Jackson put the team on his back.

“Brian is a beast,” Lake Cormorant head coach Nick Nester told SES Mississippi. “He really stepped up big time. Our starter got hurt early in the year and (Jackson) was basically the only back in 10 of our 15 games last season.”

“He is a big, strong, physical back with really good speed. Defenses really don’t like tackling him for four quarters.”

What makes Jackson’s late-season surge even more impressive is that it came while quarterback Ben Rohrbacher was hurt and star receiver Brandon Smith was the focal point for defenses.

In the regular season finale against division rival Oxford Jackson carried the ball an astounding 31 times for 164 yards and a score. In the two playoff wins he tallied 25 carries for 168 yards and then 20 carries for 165, with a combined three scores over the two games.

For the season Jackson finished with 1,551 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns, on just 198 carries. In addition to his power, Jackson showed he has the speed to be a game breakers. In four of his eight 100-yard rushing games in 2016, he used just 12 carries or less. He boasted a 7.8 yard per carry average for the season.

“One of my goals was to just improve from last year. I felt like I did that,” Jackson explained.

“My strengths are my power and my ability to break tackles.”

That is about all you will get from Jackson, however, on the remarkable season he put together as a junior, though. He hasn’t always been viewed as a star, so he is a bit more humble than you might presume, based on his talent.

“Coming out of middle school I was a B-team player,” He noted. “I used that as my motivation to work harder, so I would actually have a shot at playing.”

“I was backing up Anthony Hayes at the beginning of the season. When he went down I knew I was going to have to fill some big shoes. I learned a lot just from watching him. When my number was called I remained humble and tried to do my best every Friday.”

Jackson describes himself as a “quiet, humble and hard-working” person. That hard work showed last year not only in his personal achievements, but also in his team’s results. In 2017 he feels the Gators have a chance to build on last season’s success.

“I felt like we proved a lot of people wrong and earned a lot of respect,” Jackson said. “We were hungry for it. We knew that if we wanted to reach our goal we had to go out and give it our all.”

“I believe we can make it further this season if both sides do their part. We have some young athletes, with a lot of potential to make plays, coming back on offense.”

It’s not just about the talented and experienced players that are coming back, though. Nester and his staff deserve plenty of credit for having the Lake Cormorant program on the upswing.

“They push us to be the best. They help us on and off the field,”Jackson stated.

This offseason Jackson is working on his speed and pass protection to ensure he also takes the next step on the field this fall.

“When it comes to my speed, I have been practicing the correct form. In pass protection, I have been working on the basics,” He explained.

Part of that improvement plan could take place at the Fortius Project at Northeast Mississippi community college on April 22nd.

Jackson is working to be able to compete in the camp, but is still unsure if he will be able to make. Either way, it certainly has his full attention, because he believes it can help him take a step towards his ultimate goal.

“It seems like there is going to be a lot of good competition there,” Jackson said of Fortius.

Speaking of his ultimate goal. The drive to play at the next level has had a positive effect that stretched beyond the playing field or camp circuit.

“Football has helped me in the classroom,” Jackson said. “I realized that if I ever want to be an athlete at the next level, I have to make the grades.”

#LakeCormorant #JohnLukeMcCord

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