Jaylin Simpson was a weapon for the Knights by rushing and catching passes. His position change to the Knights’ probable starting quarterback in 2017 leaves a void for someone to fill in the slot.
The player projected to fill that void is junior athlete Isaiah Jackson. He was the Knights’ second-leading rusher in 2016, racking up 597 yards on 76 carries. Jackson was slightly lower on the wide receiver depth chart in 2016, but still managed to tally 218 yards — second most on the team — on 10 receptions — fourth most on the team.
Jackson said he is still adapting to his new role. Mostly, he said he takes it upon himself as one of the team’s more experienced players to spread his knowledge of the playbook with the rest of his counterparts at wide receiver.
“As a receiver, you have to know all the routes and know what everyone else is running,” Jackson said. “That’s what I do. If anyone else needs help, I can help them.”
Derrick called Jackson a “sneaky talent.” The Knights are headlined by the pair of future Division I athletes who figure to produce most of the Knights’ offense, Simpson and Ja’Shawn Sheffield. Every opponent Frederica faces will know about those two players, but Jackson has the potential to play a big role offensively by sliding under the radar while opposing defenses try to neutralize Simpson and Sheffield.
“He runs inside very hard,” Derrick said. “He does a good job for us. He’s got to be a threat. The biggest thing is he has to be physical. Ja’Shawn will play some in that slot. We have a lot of guys in the rotation now, getting everybody learning multiple positions.”
Jackson is one of those swiss-army knife players on both sides of the ball. Unsurprisingly, Jackson’s size and athleticism makes him a prime candidate at defensive back for the Knights. Perhaps surprisingly, Jackson is slotted at nose guard on the defensive depth chart. Usually reserved for big run stoppers, Derrick hopes Jackson’s speed will make him an asset on the Knights’ defensive line.
“He can get by people in a blink,” Derrick said. “We slant a lot. He does a good job right there.”