Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. Today, we chat with Shedrick Jackson, the nephew of Bo Jackson, who picked up an Auburn offer last week but is no guarantee to choose the Tigers.
HOOVER, Ala. — When Shedrick Jackson picked up his phone last week, he had two important callers on the other line: Gus Malzahn and Chip Lindsey.
Jackson already had picked up an offer earlier in the day from Georgia Tech, which became his second Power 5 offer along with Mississippi State. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound receiver’s day wasn’t over yet, however. He still had a meaningful offer hanging in the balance.
Malzahn passed along the message.
“Coach Lindsey talked to me first. Then, Coach Malzahn came on the phone and told me he was going to offer,” Jackson said. “It’s pretty special, of course. I just haven’t been trying to think about it too much. I’ve just been coming here and working every day. I wasn’t focusing too much on getting offers and all that stuff. I think it was really exciting, of course, just like any other offer. It just makes me want to work even harder.”
Because of his family ties, Jackson grew up an Auburn fan.
His uncle, Bo Jackson, after all, is the Auburn legend. Jackson remembers going to his first game in Jordan-Hare Stadium as a fifth-grader. He walked into his SEC Country interview sporting an Auburn backpack. Throughout Jackson’s recruiting process, Auburn has received the most visits, which is a combination of his interest in the school and its proximity to Hoover High.
So, that leads to the obvious end game, right, that he’ll be an Auburn Tiger?
Not so fast.
“People think that if I got an Auburn offer, which I have, that it’s 100 percent that I’m going there. In my mind, that’s not really what I’m thinking,” Jackson said. “I’m picking the school that has the most to offer for me and my future.”
That’s not to say he doesn’t have love for the Tigers. He absolutely does.
It just means he is staying patient. He holds offers from Auburn, Mississippi State, Arkansas State, Bowling Green, Georgia State, Troy and Memphis, but the evaluation period likely will lead to more. Jackson named Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and LSU as schools he thinks will jump on board soon, and it’s fair to assume the list won’t stop there.
As for a decision, Jackson provides a more complicated answer.
Jackson originally wanted to wait until after his senior season to decide. Now he’s leaning toward potentially enrolling early. That could move his commitment date up to the summer, which would force the hand of many programs that have waited to offer.
The Bo Jackson factor
Feel free to ask Shedrick Jackson about his uncle Bo. Everyone does.
He’s grown up as “Bo Jackson’s nephew” and accepts that isn’t an easy reputation to shake. But with his recruitment starting to boom, Jackson knows there isn’t a better time than now to remind everyone that Shedrick Jackson and Bo Jackson aren’t synonymous.
“Obviously, it’s going to get a lot of attention. But really what you’ve got to do is go out there and make a name for yourself. It’s not Bo Jackson going out there anymore. It’s not him scoring touchdowns or running 40-yard dashes. You’ve got to go out there and make a name for yourself,” Jackson said. “I really try to block it out. That’s really not something I think about all the time just because Bo Jackson’s my uncle. I’m Shedrick Jackson. I need to make my own decisions.”
That’s not to say he shies away from comparisons to his uncle. Jackson embraces them.
He watches Bo’s highlights when he gets the chance, hoping to snag a move or 2 from his uber-athletic uncle. He talks with his uncle whenever he can to pick his brain about recruiting or the life of a student-athlete, but Bo doesn’t overwhelm him with his opinion on where Jackson should end up.
It’s just uncle-nephew conversation when they get the chance at family events or Auburn football games.
But Jackson sets high expectations for what he hopes to bring when he steps on the college scene.
“No doubt there’s pressure, especially from all the attention I get from it. There are tons of expectations,” Jackson said, “but, really, I just want to go out there and be better than he was.”
Auburn’s biggest competition
Jackson, by nature, grew up an Auburn fan.
As his recruitment took off, he realized the Plains might not be his final destination, so he began to separate himself from his more dedicated childhood fandom. He still considers himself an Auburn supporter, but he doesn’t expect that to influence his ultimate decision.
“I was an Auburn fan. Recently, the past few years, the value of it has decreased. I haven’t been a die-hard or anything crazy about Auburn,” Jackson said. “Starting like sophomore year, I realized I have to expand and see other schools to find what’s best for me.”
The big factor that has emerged, which will end up being Auburn’s biggest obstacle: academics.
Education will be one of the most important factors in Jackson’s choice — hence why Georgia Tech has emerged as one of Jackson’s early favorites alongside Auburn. Vanderbilt is another school that has yet to offer, but Jackson sees the Commodores as a likely destination if and when they choose to offer.
“There’s something about schools like Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech and the way they carry themselves academically,” Jackson said. “That’s something that I take pride in, my academics. I just want to go in and work hard.”
Jackson has studied business management and marketing since his freshman year at Hoover High, and that’s what he plans to study in college. Plenty of other programs will enter the Jackson sweepstakes, but consider those high-academic institutions the most probable programs to give Auburn a challenging recruiting push.
With Georgia Tech specifically, Auburn will have a tough run at the legacy wide receiver.
“It’s a nice school, nice campus. I like the wide receiver coach there,” Jackson said. “I was actually at Georgia Tech at the time [of Auburn’s spring game].”