Joe Davidson

Franklin football star Lamar Jackson can run, cover, tackle – and sing

Video: Franklin High's Lamar Jackson makes grade on, off the field

Versatile Franklin High School senior Lamar Jackson is one of the region's most heavily recruited football player and has received scholarship offers from more than 20 colleges around the nation. In addition to his on-field prowess, Jackson has ma
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Versatile Franklin High School senior Lamar Jackson is one of the region's most heavily recruited football player and has received scholarship offers from more than 20 colleges around the nation. In addition to his on-field prowess, Jackson has ma

Lamar Jackson has no real limitations on the football field.

The senior cornerback from Franklin High School has been offered 20 scholarships, displaying college stationery in his Elk Grove bedroom from Arizona, Cal, Oregon and UCLA to Nebraska, Notre Dame, Michigan and Oklahoma.

Here’s what generates the interest: versatility. Jackson can run, pass, block, catch, cover and tackle. He plays offense, defense and special teams. He looks like an athlete at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds and sounds like a team leader. But none of this is what Jackson was glowing about Monday night when breaking down his skill set.

“I can sing, too,” Jackson said, sheepishly, quickly adding, “a little.”

He was good enough to lead a victorious tune last week in Franklin’s makeshift “American Idol” talent show. Wildcats football coach Mike Johnson, on the eve of the season opener, ordered a sing-off among the players. He had groups of five players band together to offer their best vocal. The winners were awarded the duty of singing the fight song to the Franklin student body and band after games. And nothing inspires Jackson more than a spirited competition.

Jackson can run, pass, block, catch, cover and tackle. He plays offense, defense and special teams. He looks like an athlete at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds and sounds like a team leader.

There was Jackson, leading the fight-song charge after helping Franklin defeat Clovis North of Fresno 30-24 last Friday. This came after he tossed a 29-yard option-pass touchdown to Tariq Glenn and played such tight coverage at cornerback that not one pass was thrown his way.

“I told our guys we’d win that singing contest, and we were all on cue, and we danced, and we put it together in five minutes,” Jackson said excitedly. “It was so much fun. It’s my role as a leader. I’m the spirit of the team, and that’s my job.”

Said Johnson: “Lamar was so excited, you’d think he won a million dollars. He jumped up and down like a 12-year-old kid.”

Inside a man’s body, there’s a lot of kid in Jackson. He smiles a lot, and he’s as silly away from the game as he is fierce in play.

“I’m living a dream, and I’ve come a long way,” Jackson said.

Jackson started his Franklin experience on the outside looking in. Poor grades sidelined him and forced Johnson to pull Jackson into his office for a talk.

“He was a really big kid, tons of energy coming into Franklin but not a lot of interest in education,” Johnson said. “I called his mother (Catherine Horton) and told her, ‘You have an impressive young man, but he’s not doing as well as he can in school.’ She agreed. I told her that Lamar has the body and ability to have his college paid for with a scholarship but only if he can figure out the academic side. Next day, I ran into Lamar and told him, ‘I have a new best friend. Guess who? Yeah, your mom!’

“I’m very proud of him.”

Jackson became a better student. He re-took freshman courses over recent summers and earned A’s. A 3.3 GPA over his last five terms landed Jackson on the national radar as Franklin’s most heavily recruited athlete in the school’s 15 year history.

I’m so glad people pushed me, talked to me, my coaches, administrators, counselors, family. They were all on my side, but it was up to me.

Lamar Jackson

Just as important, he’s now a role model for his three younger siblings being raised by their single mom.

“I’m so glad people pushed me, talked to me, my coaches, administrators, counselors, family,” Jackson said. “They were all on my side, but it was up to me.”

Folsom co-coach Kris Richardson, whose Bulldogs beat Franklin the past two playoff seasons, vouches for Jackson’s ability.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “He’s a talent. He’s big and smooth. A lot of recruiters came through our offices in the spring and his name came up a lot, and people talk of his talent and high character.”

I won’t sit here and brag about scholarship offers or anything. I’ve heard the numbers, that 1 percent of high school kids in the country get scholarships, so I appreciate that.

Lamar Jackson

Jackson remains the same jovial sort. A summer whirlwind tour of camps and clinics didn’t make his head swell – just his pride.

“He’s still the same guy, very humble, just Lamar,” Franklin teammate Rahsaan York said.

Said Jackson: “I can’t change. It’s my personality to be like this, to be outgoing. I respect people. I won’t sit here and brag about scholarship offers or anything. I’ve heard the numbers, that 1 percent of high school kids in the country get scholarships, so I appreciate that. It’s surreal, though, and I never expected this, how it’s changed my future.”

Versatile Franklin High School senior Lamar Jackson is one of the region's most heavily recruited football player and has received scholarship offers from more than 20 colleges around the nation. In addition to his on-field prowess, Jackson has ma

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD

They’re moving on

The Bee’s Joe Davidson breaks down 10 area senior football players who are being heavily recruited:

Player

School

Pos.

Ht.

Wt.

Comment

Montel Aaron

Antelope

QB

6-5

195

Rising prospect is best QB in region, according to his coaches.

Ian Book

Oak Ridge

QB

6-2

200

Committed to Notre Dame; has skills, leadership and grades.

Jacob Capra

Placer

OL

6-5

280

Committed to Oregon, a year after brother Johnny signed with Utah.

Beau Bisharat

Jesuit

RB

6-2

210

Stanford-bound brusier runs with power, speed and purpose and is known for class and humility

Chase Hatada

Rocklin

DT

6-3

255

Headed to Boise State; impressed coaches with his strength, mobility.

Lamar Jackson

Franklin

DB

6-3

205

Built like linebacker, elusive like tailback; has 20 offers at DB.

Keoni Stallworth

Cosumnes Oaks

DB

6-2

195

Can cover and hit, and make plays on offense, too; rising prospect.

Soape Tupou

Grant

OL

6-4

330

Latest big – really big – lineman recruit from Grant.

Trey Udoffia

Del Oro

WR

6-1

180

One of state’s fastest players; good hands and makes plays on defense.

Jonah Williams

Folsom

OL

6-5

295

Headed to Alabama as the top tackle prospect on the West Coast.

This week’s football schedule

All games kick off between 7 and 7:30 p.m. unless noted

FRIDAY

Top 20

No. 2 Grant at Central-Fresno

No. 3 Del Oro vs. Punahou-Honolulu at Cal

No. 6 Oak Ridge at Vacaville

No. 7 Franklin at Bellarmine

at San Jose City College

El Cerrito at No. 8 Inderkum

Sheldon at No. 9 Antelope

Yuba City at No. 11 Jesuit, 5 p.m.

Pioneer at No. 12 Placer

No. 18 Del Campo at No. 5 Rocklin

No. 10 Granite Bay

at No. 16 Cosumnes Oaks

No. 15 Bear River at Union Mine

No. 17 Christian Brothers

vs. Laguna Creek at Hughes Stadium

Rio Linda at No. 19 Roseville

No. 20 Capital Christian

at Modesto Christian

Other games

Bella Vista at Cordova

Bradshaw Christian at De Anza-El Sobrante

Casa Roble at Woodcreek

Davis at River Valley

Dixon at Wheatland

El Dorado at Lincoln

Enterprise-Redding at Whitney

Fairfield at Woodland

Florin at Delhi

Lindhurst vs. Encina at El Camino

Marysville at Live Oak

Merced at Monterey Trail

Natomas vs. Valley

at Cosumnes River College

Pleasant Grove vs. Nevada Union at Sheldon

Oakland at Kennedy

Oakmont at Foothill

Ponderosa at Vista del Lago

Rio Americano vs. Rosemont at Del Campo

San Juan at Foresthill

Winters at Colfax

Western Sierra at Woodland Christian

SATURDAY

Top 20

No. 1 Folsom at Clovis North

El Camino at No. 14 Sacramento, 1 p.m.

Other games

Balboa-San Francisco at Center, 11 a.m.

Mira Loma vs. Highlands

at El Camino, 1 p.m.

West Campus at Johnson, 1 p.m.

McClatchy vs. River City at Hughes Stadium

Valley Christian Academy

at Livermore Prep

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