Jesse Jackson pretty much hit the genetic lottery.
The Petal wide receiver’s father was a talented football and baseball player in high school, while his mother, Angela, played basketball at Southern Miss and in the WNBA. His parents created a talented 6-foot-2, 195-pound wide receiver that was named to The Clarion-Ledger’s 2013 Dandy Dozen football team Friday.
Angela Jackson — formerly Angela Atterberry — first noticed her son might possess athletic prowess when he was six-years old.
“He was tossing the football and baseball around,” she said. “It just kind of went from there.”
Since then Jackson has emerged as one of the nation’s top wide receivers. Jackson has scholarship offers from Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State and Ole Miss, among others. Jackson has named in-state Mississippi State as his current favorite school, but doesn’t plan to make a decision until after his senior season.
Despite plenty of hype and attention from some of the nation’s top football programs, Jackson admits his mother still has the upper hand on the basketball court.
“I really don’t even try to play her anymore,” he said. “I really don’t see how she does it.”
Said Angela Jackson: “I still take him to the goal. He’ll give up a little bit. Anything else he’d win, but basketball is mine.”
Jackson excelled at multiple sports growing up, but decided to focus primarily on football his sophomore year. He transitioned from quarterback to wide receiver and began to blossom under the tutelage of former NFL wide receiver Todd Pinkston, who is Petal’s wide receivers coach.
“He showed me pretty much everything,” Jackson said. “At first it was a battle. Certain things he was teaching me, I couldn’t understand. My sophomore and junior years I started learning it more. He’s a great guy to work with and he really understands people.”
Pinkston, who played at Southern Miss before seven years in the NFL, says Jackson is ahead of where he was at Florence High School. Pinkston has stressed to Jackson the need to become a complete receiver to prepare him for the college and NFL levels.
“I think at the end of the day he’s one of the most complete receivers I’ve seen in the three or four years I’ve coached,” Pinkston said. “He got to the point where he had to learn how to get open and learn how to become a complete player. I told him I want you to be a blocker first and then a catcher second.
“Anybody can be a receiver, but not everybody can be a complete receiver.”
Jackson has all eyes on him this season at Petal after his counterpart Jamarcus Revies graduated to play football at Southern Miss. Revies helped deflect some of the attention and pressure away from Jackson last season, but now everyone expects Jackson to be the guy to lead Petal back to a State Championship.
“I really don’t have the relief on the other side of the ball,” Jackson said. “Do I feel the pressure? Most definitely. There’s a lot of pressure for me to perform, but I won’t let that get to me.
“I’m not looking for a whole bunch of yards or anything like that. I just want to win state. I just want that ‘W’ under my belt.”