Coaches, campus led Gateway’s Jackson to choose Syracuse
By: Michael Love
Saturday, May 5, 2018 | 1:15 AM
Courtney Jackson will go from Gateway black and gold to the orange of Syracuse.
The Gators junior ended a busy football recruiting process by giving a verbal committed to the Atlantic Coast Conference program April 27.
“It's a big relief to know I have somewhere to go. It feels really good,” said Jackson, who first announced his decision on Twitter.
Jackson's commitment to Syracuse was influenced by a visit to the campus and football facilities in late March.
“The coaching staff treated me right, and I really loved the campus,” Jackson said. “It definitely was a blessing to have options with some really great schools. But it was the right time. There wasn't any reason to wait.”
Jackson was recruited by several Division I programs as other offers came in from the likes of Baylor, West Virginia, Kentucky, Boston College, Cincinnati, Temple, a number of Mid-American conference schools and the service academies.
“Courtney had a lot of options and opportunities, and at the end of the day, from talking to Courtney and a couple of the Syracuse coaches, it was a perfect marriage,” Gateway coach Don Holl said.
“Our offense is similar to what they do. He should fit into their plans really well. It's ACC football and a program on the rise.”
Syracuse finished the 2017 season 4-8 overall and 2-6 in ACC play. Despite a tough end to the season that featured a five-game losing skid, there were a number of highlights for the Orange.
That included a major upset of national playoff qualifier Clemson and a victory over conference rival Pitt in consecutive weeks.
Jackson led the state in receiving touchdowns in 2017 with 24.
He caught 15 passes for 264 yards and three touchdowns in Gateway's 31-28 victory over Manheim Central in the PIAA Class 5A semifinals.
“Courtney is a phenomenal player, a tremendous student and a great person,” Holl said. “He still has a lot to do before we send him up (to Syracuse).”
Jackson also has a lot still to do this spring as a member of the Gateway track and field team. He continues to prove himself as one of the top long and triple jumpers in WPIAL Class AAA.
Jackson hit a personal best of 44 feet, 6.5 inches in the triple jump early in the season, and that has landed him at No. 2 on the performance list for the WPIAL individual championships May 17 at Baldwin High School.
He is right there at the top with section rival Jacob Shedd, a senior from Franklin Regional, who leaped 45-1 in competition this spring.
“Hopefully, I can do well at WPIALs and make it to states,” said Jackson, who earned a WPIAL medal last year in the triple jump with a seventh-place finish and a top distance of 43-5.75.
He said he has the triple jump school record in his sights. The record is 45-11¼ set by Eric Jones in 2005.
Jackson is at 22-0 in the long jump, good for eighth on the current WPIAL performance list. He didn't compete in the event at WPIALs last year.
The long jump school record is 24-5 recorded by current Washington Redskins defensive back Montae Nicholson in 2014.
Jackson said he's been battling shin splints that have attempted to hinder his progress. He said treatment for the ailment is helping him stay on the jump runway as well as the track where he is a member of the 400-meter relay and also runs the 100 dash.
He is one of three Gators to reach qualifying times in the 100 (freshman Derrick Davis, senior Travis Thomspon). Jackson said, however, he might not run the 100 at WPIALs.
The Gateway 400 relay was the No. 1 seed (43.04 seconds) on the WPIAL performance list released May 1.