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OSU football: Receiver Blake Jackson finding his way with the Cowboys

BLAKE JACKSON -- After a year out of football and a year redshirting at a suburban Phoenix community college, Blake Jackson began to blossom. Now, he's being counted on to be another weapon in the Cowboys' high-flying offense.
by Jenni Carlson Published: April 20, 2012

Blake Jackson might play tight end or slot receiver or who knows what other position in Oklahoma State's offense.

He might catch a couple passes or a dozen of them.

He might have a breakout day or a so-so one.

But regardless of what the highly touted junior college transfer does Saturday during the Cowboys' Spring Finale, this much is certain — just being there is a success story. Jackson, you see, went unrecruited and unsigned out of high school.

For the better part of a year, he was out of football.

No team. No scholarship. No nothing.

“Now,” his juco coach said, “he's at the pinnacle.”

Jackson's journey to Division-I football and OSU is a remarkable one.

It started in Gilbert, Ariz., where Jackson graduated from high school. He was only 16 years old at the time. He started kindergarten early, then remained especially young for his grade.

Add his age to the fact that he was a wide receiver on a high school team that rarely threw the ball, and college recruiters weren't interested.

He started taking college classes, but without having to worry about his football eligibility, his academics suffered. His motivation waned. His grades dropped.

His mom, Natasha, did everything she could to keep him going, but it was a struggle.

Then a buddy who was playing football at Scottsdale Community College in suburban Phoenix told Jackson that he should to come to spring practice. Talk to the coaches. See if they have a spot.

After seeing him, the coaches thought he had potential.

“He was just like a baby, a big lanky kid with broad shoulders and big feet,” Scottsdale offensive coordinator Tommy Ziegler said. “Kind of uncoordinated and not really a great athlete yet.

“He just wasn't quite ready to play.”

And it was a blow to his confidence.

“We almost lost him,” Ziegler said. “I think he seriously thought about not playing.”

Ziegler gave Jackson an option. He could join the team, but he would have to redshirt a year. Nothing after that was promised, yet if Jackson worked hard, developing his body and improving his skill, Ziegler would give him every chance in the world.

Jackson decided to give it a go.

He spent lots of time in the weight room, then did extra work on his own. He was always conditioning or catching passes or doing something that would make him better.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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