But this is not the renown hip hop rapper/producer Curtis Jackson who’s better known to music fans as 50 Cent. This Curtis Jackson is the hard hitting, ball chasing enforcer leading the Irvine High School secondary on the football field.
Still, he hears people placing his name with the New York M.C. and G-Unit founder.
“Couple of my coaches call me 'Young 50.' Some call me Curtis Jackson. Or they call me 'Fifty,'” Jackson said. “I mean, I think it’s cool and they do it to joke around.”
The chiseled Class of 2016 prospect dons the green and white for Irvine High and goes into a destruction mode once the Friday night lights come on.
Jackson, who stands at 6-feet and weighs 170-pounds, is known in the Orange County prep football scene for crashing into wide receivers and running backs. His eyes spot where the football is going, then he turns his hips to chase the ball down and lastly, he’ll throw his shoulder and send his opponent flying into the O.C. air.
“I come downhill real fast and I like to hit. I love to lay the wood,” Jackson said.
He led the Vaqueros with 121 tackles last season and forced two fumbles. Jackson also returns punts and kickoffs for Irvine, combining for 336 yards on special teams.
While he’s considered the sledgehammer in the Vaqueros’ defensive backfield, he said he’s looking to polish his skills and become a better safety. Which is why Jackson linked up with Orange County Elite during the offseason to build on his abilities. He and his O.C. Elite teammates operate under this motto:
“Slow feet don’t eat baby,” Jackson said. “It’s hard work. Everyday we’re working on footwork. Everyday is grind mode. Our coaches put us in a high tempo. That’s what I love about it.”
The practice sessions have helped turn Jackson loose during 7on7 tournaments. Jackson closed down hard on wide receivers and forced quarterbacks to throw away from him during three appearances at Passing Down, which is California’s largest 7on7 event. His O.C. Elite squad proved they can match up against the top players in Northern and Central California, as they clinched a spot in the tournament’s Best of the West regional held on April 26.
“It’s the best,” Jackson said of O.C. Elite. “They’ve been helping us out a lot and they’ve been a great experience so far.”
Even though Jackson makes a lot of noise with his punishing hits, his recruiting period has been quiet so far. During the NCAA Spring Evaluation Period, Jackson said San Diego State has visited him at Irvine High. He’s also had USC and Utah reach out to him by inviting Jackson to its summer camps.
He isn’t just searching for his first scholarship offer, Jackson is looking to be different from the platinum recording artist he gets mentioned with.
“At the end of the day, I want my own name,” Jackson said.
CALI GOLD MINE’S TAKE
What to like: If you’re a secondary coach, you’ve got to love someone who can dash to the football and ignite the sidelines with his ferocious hits, which is what Jackson does. He shows good vision and reaction to where the ball is going. Takes sharp angles and is rarely caught out of position. He fights for possession of the football on defense by digging his hands into the ball carrier and jar the football loose for the fumble. Versatile enough to return kicks. During returns, he shows some elusiveness and can make defenders miss the tackle.
What to build on: He doesn’t appear to be the fastest safety even with his pursuit angles. He can always enhance that trait. I’ll need to see more of his ability to be a ball hawk and grab interceptions. I also need to see more of his ability to crash down toward the line of scrimmage on blitzes and if he has the hands to fight off blockers.
Overall: Anyone wanting a tone setter in the secondary can use someone like Jackson. His aggressive nature is capable of striking fear into the heart of a wide receiver. He’ll need to improve his speed down the road, but he’s a hidden gem in a talent rich region.
More on Jackson can be found here.