Unlike last season, Novi’s Emanuel Jackson may never come off the field in 2015
The speedy, fourth-year all-purpose tailback wiped out most of the Wildcats’ offensive record records during his junior year as the Area Player of the Year rushed for 1,061 yards and 16 touchdowns, while also catching 43 passes for 629 yards and five TDs.
Two of his biggest games came against playoff teams.
He finished with 410 total yards in a 50-33 victory over Kensington Conference and KLAA Central co-champ South Lyon, while adding 358 total yards and three TDs in loss to playoff qualifier Westland John Glenn.
Jackson also proved to be a dangerous punt and kickoff returner (averaging 34.7 yards per return, including two TDs).
But this season Novi coach Jeff Burnside has an expanded role for “Action Jackson,” who will also play full-time in the secondary.
“He’s a special talent,” the third-year coach said. “We only have him for one season left, so we’re going to use him. He’ll leave nothing in the tank every Friday night, so we got to use him everywhere. He’s too talented to not use him down there and he makes plays in the secondary that we haven’t had in that type of playmaker.”
When asked about his new role on defense, Jackson simply said: “Yes, sir, and I’m happy about that.”
“I’m going to have to step up and be a leader,” Jackson added. “I’ve learned that it’s hard and it’s not easy going to both ways.”
While there was an emphasis in the off season weight lifting program to get the wirey Jackson to get even stronger, there was also a mental side of learning the defense.
“Coach Burnside and I went over a lot of (chalk) board work and in the gym a little bit,” Jackson said. “I want to get better, help others and be a great teammate.”
Jackson said he is currently committed to play at Western Michigan University.
“P.J. Fleck (WMU’s head coach) is a great guy,” Jackson said. “When I went there it felt like home. Everybody welcomed me with open arms.”
And it’s Jackson’s versatility, which gives him a variety of options at the next level.
“As far as position, we’ll see how defense is this year,” Jackson said, “and if I really like defense, offense, or wide receiver. I’ve been wanting to play defense. I love that (returning kicks), too.”
In his third year on the varsity, Jackson wants to put it all on the line for the sake of the team. The Wildcats are seeking their first MHSAA playoff berth since 2008.
“We’re real young, but we’re going to get after it,” Jackson promised.