|Curtis Jackson of Irvine High is known in Orange County for his pulverizing hits, but he wants to be more of an interception king this fall (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna).|
Now, before people make a rush to judgement and categorize Jackson as the selfish basketball shooting guard who wants the ball all to himself, or the wide receiver who wants the catches and glory, know that the incoming senior at Irvine High School doesn’t mean that he wants to be a ball hog in an egocentric way. He’s just trying to help the Irvine defense.
“I’m trying to get more interceptions for us,” the Class of 2016 safety said. “My junior season, I was more of the guy who, if you were to come down the middle, I’m going to hit you. I wasn’t going for the ball much. Now, I want to be an interception hog.”
Jackson - who gets called "Young 50" by his coaches because he shares the same first and last name with renown musician/actor 50 Cent - is itching to improve his interception totals from a year ago. He stuck out his hands and grabbed just one interception last season according to Max Preps. He added six pass deflections, placing him third on the team.
Last year’s interception leader was Noah Miller, who collected five picks. Miller has since graduated, which now opens a door for a new aerial mugger to emerge at IHS.
Jackson was more of the punishing enforcer for the Vaqueros’ defense last season. He played like an outside linebacker who crashed his shoulder pads into any ball carrier on the field.
Once his junior year ended, Jackson immediately put his cleats back on to develop quicker feet. He was one of the star cover defenders for Team O.C Elite during the spring 7-on-7 season, as Jackson became one of O.C Elite’s top ball hawks. His angle pursuits and large palms allowed him to emerge as an interception machine for the Orange County club squad.
Jackson also described himself as a gym rat. He’ll swing by the nearest 24 Hour Fitness with his teammates to prepare for the upcoming season.
“We’re not trying to out-do ourselves, but we’re trying to get that work in,” Jackson said. “I’m always hitting the weight room after practice. I also hit the agility work. I’m always getting extra work on my feet.”
Along with trying to be Irvine’s interception leader this season, Jackson continues to market his name in front of college football coaches. He’s gone camping this summer – by going to different satellite camps during June 2015.
“I’ve been to a couple of camps: San Diego State and San Jose State,” Jackson said. “Every camp is high-tempo and fast paced. At the camps, I’ve been working hard and I work my way to be the best I can be. It’s a good environment to get a feel of what DI ball is like.”
He adds that since those camps, he’s been in contact with the two Mountain West schools.
“They’ve been talking to me and they email me; saying they would come see me (at school) and invited me to a couple of unofficial visits at their school,” Jackson said.
Northern Arizona of the Big Sky Conference also has talked to him, Jackson said.
Still, he hasn’t received his first scholarship pledge yet. He said he thinks that he’s overlooked, despite being one of the hardest hitters in his region plus showing that he’s improved his work ethic against pass plays.