The potential for Jadon Jackson to become a big-time wide receiver recruit has been evident since he first moved to Northwest Arkansas as a high school freshman. Now entering his junior season at Bentonville West in Centerton, Jackson is well on his way to turning that potential into a reality.
Jackson is emerging as one of the top wide receiver recruits nationally in the 2019 class. He already has offers from Arkansas, Arizona State, Missouri, Memphis and Tulsa.
Those scholarship opportunities haven’t come as a surprise to Bentonville West coach Bryan Pratt, who immediately noticed Jackson’s ability when he moved in from York, Pa.
“The first day he came in and started running routes I was there with [Bentonville West offensive coordinator] Casey Dick and we looked at each other and said, ‘This kid can be big time,’ ” Pratt said Friday at the Southwest Elite 7on7 Showcase in Fayetteville.
“I’ve set him down and talked to him, telling him, ‘You could be a household name if you do things right.’ He’s kind of bought into that.”
Having a talent such as Jackson on the roster is doing wonders to help Bentonville West, which first opened its doors last year, build its program. However, Jackson seems to be benefiting more from Bentonville West than the other way around.
The level of focus required to succeed as an athlete and a student has intensified for him since the move. But the results of taking on the challenge to meet higher standards has been everything he could’ve hoped for so far.
“When I first moved here, I heard about all the great opportunities a lot of players from this general area get,” Jackson said. “They get looked at by colleges a lot around here. I thought maybe I could be one of those guys one day.
“My teammates are pretty great. Everyone is together here. We’ve got really great coaches that teach us fundamentals and make us work as a team. I like it a lot.”
Jackson has grown to appreciate Northwest Arkansas so much he may even play his college ball in the area — Arkansas’ campus is 30 miles south of Bentonville West. He has no dream school, but the Razorbacks seem to have an early lead.
Arkansas hosted Jackson in the spring, and he came away impressed. Tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr., who is the top in-state recruiter, has been Jackson’s primary contact with the Razorbacks.
“I’ve grown to like them a lot,” Jackson said. “I didn’t really pay attention to them when I wasn’t here. But now I watch them on TV every once in a while and try to check them out.”
The next step in his recruiting process will be a visit to Alabama on Sunday. The Crimson Tide are among a growing list of schools showing interest.
As his recruitment picks up, his coaches at Bentonville West will provide any assist needed. An assistant will drive him to Tuscaloosa this weekend. Pratt has more than 20 years of coaching experience and has been through the recruiting process with many others before.
“I want him to make sure he understands what he has in front of him,” Pratt said. “Try to pick out where you want to go and tell me why you want to go there. Don’t make some kind of rash decision. Especially for a 16-year-old kid going into his junior year. Ride it out, enjoy it, but don’t let it control what you do on the field for us because the most important thing right now is our high school team. That’s something that he’s bought into. He trusts us and he’s got a great family that trusts us, too.”