The Auburn community has a rich understanding of Shedrick Jackson‘s last name. His first name remains a bit of an unknown.
Auburn’s most recent recruiting commit brings an important family legacy to the 2018 recruiting class, but Jackson has much more to offer. That may not be reflected in the recruiting rankings — 247Sports slots him most favorably, while others rank him surprisingly low despite Jackson having the physical appearance of someone who is ready to play college football this fall.
- 247Sports: No. 58 wide receiver
- ESPN: No. 75 wide receiver
- Scout: No. 130 wide receiver
- Rivals: Unranked among wide receivers
Perhaps scouts don’t want to overhype Jackson because his uncle is Bo Jackson. Maybe they aren’t as impressed as Auburn’s coaching staff has been by the growth and development over the last year.
Hoover (Ala.) coach Josh Niblett has seen Jackson up close for the last three football seasons. He thinks some of those rankings — at least in Jackson’s case — can be misleading. Niblett has viewed Jackson’s maturation as much as anyone, so the former Alabama letterman is qualified to give his opinion on what Auburn will be getting from the 6-foot-2, 190-pound wide receiver.
Shedrick Jackson, the player
The Jackson name has become synonymous with speed. Bo is the protagonist of mythical folklore about 40-yard dashes. Shedrick has enjoyed the fast family tradition at camps — such as Auburn’s recent skills event and the Atlanta Opening regional.
Niblett watched the sophomore version of Jackson cruise by older defenders. In his transition from sophomore to junior, Niblett noticed a marked difference in Jackson’s playing style.
“I’ve been around him for a long time. He’s been a dynamic player for us since he was a sophomore. When he was a sophomore, he was more of a top-end speed guy that could run by everybody,” Niblett told SEC Country. “Last year, he developed more to his game as far as being a route runner and not just being about running by people.”
Jackson’s development resulted in better statistics. He hauled in 43 catches for 661 yards and 3 touchdowns last season, playing a critical role in Hoover’s second state championship in a three-year span.
Now Jackson has doubled down on his offseason effort.
“I think the thing he’s worked on even more this year, he’s worked on being a guy that just wants to have everything — whether it’s top-end speed or intermediate routes or catching quick screens and making guys miss and go the distance — I think he brings all of those things to the table,” Niblett said.
Niblett tends to laugh when people just mention Jackson’s speed. Yes, Jackson has been clocked around the 4.3-second mark in the 40, and he’s propelled Hoover to some easy drives simply because of his big-play ability.
Still, Niblett thinks Jackson’s college-ready ability stems from something else.
“The other thing I think people just really don’t think about a whole lot and people omit from his evaluation is the physicality of the game,” Jackson said. “There comes a point in time you want to be physical. There’s got to be a point where you want to block, a point where there’s a physical part of the game you can’t shy away from. And he is a really physical player.
“His skills, as far as his physicality, is unbelievable. I think early on in your career, in college, everybody can run. The physical part of the game early on in your career in college is the key. That’s what’s going to allow him a chance to get onto the field early.”
Shedrick Jackson, the person and teammate
You could call it coach-speak, but that’s not what you’re about to read.
Niblett won’t talk ill of any of his players, and he’s even likely to fluff them up. That comes easy with Jackson. Hoover High has had some special players over the years. But in Niblett’s tenure at the powerhouse high school, few football players have matched what Jackson brings off the field.
“He’s just an unbelievable kid. He’s a kid that wants to do well in the classroom. He wants to be the leader in the meeting room. He wants to set an example. He’s a guy you want in your program. He’s a guy you want in your locker room,” Niblett said.
“He’s one of those kids that’s a real hungry kid in everything he does. Something special about him that separates him from everybody else is the intangibles, even though he has all the tangibles.”
The academics speak for themselves. At one point in his recruitment — before the Auburn offer — Jackson thought his likeliest landing spots were Georgia Tech or Vanderbilt. He plans to study business administration when he makes it to the Plains.
Niblett also expects Jackson to be a valuable asset in the Auburn locker room.
“When you have that, a kid that’s caring and cares about everybody else, he doesn’t make it about him. I think that’s what’s allowed him to be rewarded for his actions,” Niblett said. “He hasn’t made his life just about him. He makes it about how he can impact other people. That would be probably the biggest takeaway people would get from being around him.
“He’s a professional. That’s the way he goes about his business.”
Take Hoover’s most recent 7-on-7 tournament, for example.
Jackson was one of the team’s most productive receivers during the first few pool play games. He tweaked a minor side injury he’d suffered in the weight room. but still wanted to go. Niblett thought better of it.
So Jackson, typically a shower rather than a teller, became an integral part of the team’s offensive huddles and sideline communication despite sitting out the remainder of the event.
“He could’ve been frustrated, but he wasn’t. He said, ‘I’m here for everybody else.’ That’s what allows our group to excel, and I think that’s what leadership is all about,” Niblett said. “Some people think leadership is all about the guy who’s standing in the front, always got to be the loudest, the guy that’s always got to be correcting everybody else. But I almost think it’s just the opposite. It’s the guy who walks in the back a little bit so nobody gets left behind. It’s the guy that leads by example.
“Those are the leadership values I think he brings to the table.”