Often I run into parents of Pop Warner and various pee-wee league players. Usually there's plenty of questions as to what their son needs to work on and if I think they have the potential to take it to the next level. I generally stay away from any outlandish predictions and tell parents to stay the course and if their son is happy playing the game then simply let him and see where it goes.
This past season though a trio of players changed my thought process in regards to looking at and projecting future stars at a younger age. Enter 2015 RB/WR Emanuel Jackson.
I had heard about Jackson through some friends before but hadn't seen him play. Then I got ahold of a highlight DVD playing with the Eastside Dolphins program. Needless to say he was highly impressive but then again this was pee wee football right?
Well we move forward another and the stories continued to pour in about Jackson as he played for Riverside's D team this past season. I got another highlight tape and had heard Jackson was running track with the Riverside High squad as well. He was competing with the high school athletes but winning heats with regularity against competition on the same age level or underclassmen.
We heard Jackson was going to compete and participate at the Brian Bratton Football Camp last month. The former Furman University standout who has played in both the NFL and CFL had players from across the Upstate attend the event. Jackson surprised the camp staff because of his skill level and athletic talent while there so much that they awarded him MVP at the running back position. Upon announcing the award the staff thought they were handing the award out to a high school prospect, when Jackson told them he was only in the eighth grade.
We caught up with Jackson to talk about his accomplishments and what he hopes to work towards in the future. We first hit on the MVP award he was given at the Brian Bratton Camp.
"It was amazing to be notified and chosen by someone who has accomplished what I dream of accomplishing one day. Playing college football." Jackson told us.
Although he surprised the coaching staff with his youth Jackson says he wasn't honestly satisfied with his performance there.
"Yes and no. Yes because I did my best but no because I have room to improve."
Jackson says the camp helped him pick up a lot of drills and fundamentals that will help him become a better running back.
The award at the Bratton camp wasn't the first award for Jackson either.
"I have been nominated for the Under Armour Youth All-American Game."
Jackson primarily lines up at running back but due to injury he moved to quarterback this season. He also is an outstanding cover cornerback often baiting opposing quarterbacks into throwing his way. Right now Jackson says he feels most comfortable at running back or wide receiver.
His speed and strength sets him apart from his counterparts right now and the scary part is that he has yet to touch weights. At 5'6 135 pounds he's got a lot of growing to do but his legs already look like that of a seasoned high school athlete.
This past season he rushed for 11 touchdowns and almost 800 yards despite spending a great deal of the season at quarterback. The D-team Warriors finished the season 5-2.
That attribute has helped him on the track with Riverside thus far. He quickly responded, "absolutely" when asked if competing against top AAAA athletes on the track had helped him to prepare himself for what's to come over the next four seasons.
Jackson says he'll be attending a combine this off season as well as the Dabo Swinney football camp at Clemson.
SCPrepNation.com will bring you some video highlights of Jackson in action soon so stay tuned and you'll see why we feel he's got a strong chance at being one of the next big prospects here in South Carolina over the next four seasons.
2015 RB/WR Emanuel Jackson