George County’s McKinnley Jackson among best freshmen in nation
George County’s McKinnley Jackson grabbed folks’ attention last summer when he picked up a football scholarship offer from Louisiana-Lafayette as a 14-year-old.
He backed up that buzz on the field as a freshman defensive lineman for the Rebels in the 2016 season.
Jackson, who turned 15 in December, was recently named a first-team Freshman All-American by MaxPreps after an outstanding first season with the George County varsity team.
The 6-foot-2, 260-pound Jackson racked up 60 tackles, including an impressive 30 tackles for negative yardage.
“He really played well beyond his years,” George County coach Matt Caldwell said. “He did a really good job for us stepping in as a 14-year-old freshman in (Class) 6A. To not just be a good player, but to be a dominant force on the defensive line was pretty impressive.”
Jackson sees the All-American honor as a reward for the hard work he put in.
“I didn’t expect that to happen, but I expected something good to happen,” he said.
Jackson also filled in on offense at fullback on occasion and ran for a pair of touchdowns.
Jackson started the season at defensive end for the Rebels and also saw time at defensive tackle later in the year.
He’s confident that he can fill whatever role the George County staff needs him in.
“I think I can play anywhere in the box,” Jackson said. “I can play outside linebacker, inside linebacker, D-tackle. I can play anywhere, but definitely not DB.”
Jackson wowed college coaches during summer camps with his size, strength and agility for such a young player. It was during one of those camps that ULL head coach Mark Hudspeth offered him a scholarship on the spot.
Jackson said he hasn’t been approached by many college coaches since receiving plenty of attention last summer.
“If they don’t come to me, I’m chasing after them,” he said.
Caldwell said he sees Jackson continuing to improve as a player.
“He has great work ethic for one,” Caldwell said. “You see it in practice and in the weight room. Athletically, he’s not your typical ninth grader. He’s got strength and skill.”
Jackson plans on making an even bigger impact as a sophomore.
“I plan to work even harder,” Jackson said. “I just observed everything as a freshman. I didn’t play as hard as I could. I want to do it for my school and my teammates. I want to do it for everybody.”
Jackson wasn’t the only Coast football star to earn All-American honors from MaxPreps. St. Stanislaus senior tight end Chase Rogers, SSC senior quarterback Myles Brennan and East Central junior running back Tony Brown all made the Medium School All-American Football Team.
New commit: George County senior receiver Kaleb Gentry announced this week that he has verbally committed to play football at East Mississippi Community College.
Gentry caught 64 passes for 837 yards and six touchdowns as a senior.
“Kaleb really blossomed into a really good football player on both sides of the ball,” Caldwell said.