He stands just 5-foot-8 and 160 pounds, far from an overpowering presence on a football field. He competes for his school’s junior varsity squad as a junior, and has no real expectation of being called up to the varsity squad this year. Despite those limitations, Cole Jackson is without a doubt the most popular member of the Highland Park football program, one of Texas’ most successful and historic. There’s a clear reason why Jackson is so beloved, too: He’s worked his way into being a legitimate contributor to the junior varsity program despite playing with just one arm.
As detailed in this terrific profile from the Dallas Morning News’ Greg Riddle, Jackson lost his left arm in a tragic ATV accident in 2014. Riding with Jackson in the ATV was John Stephen Jones, the grandson of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones who is now the starting quarterback for Highland Park’s varsity team. Jackson’s mother has even credited Jones with saving her son’s life. There was never a question of whether Jackson would try to return to both football and lacrosse, a sport in which he was considered a top-5 national prospect in middle school.
The twist, however, came in Jackson’s insistence on remaining at running back on the football field. He was asked to consider moving to kicker, but politely declined. Instead, he has found a way to powerfully cradle the football in his right arm, emerging as a reliable offensive weapon for the Scots, even when asked to run the option.
“Running back is probably one of the easier ones to play,” Jackson told the Morning News. “I really didn’t have to change much. Just practicing different ways to catch it, knowing how to grip it.”
All agree that Cole Jackson takes after his grandfather, former SMU and NFL standout Charlie Jackson, who has encouraged him to constantly prove himself, despite his physical limitations.
He continues to do just that, on both the football and lacrosse field, with some Division III programs still retaining an interest in bringing Jackson aboard to play lacrosse. There’s much more to read about Jackson’s incredible story right here, so make sure you do. It’s well worth your time, and brings a very different perspective on the importance of determination and resilience.