One of the top players in the state of Florida, is a guy that you may not have heard about yet. Clermont (Fla.) East Ridge wide receiver Richard Jackson is a rare young man in today's recruiting world. Not only is he a great talent on the field, but it's tough to match the attributes he brings to the table off the field as well.
"In 35 years of coaching, he is the best that I've had," East Ridge head coach Bud O'Hara said. "He is a once in a career type kid. Not only is his ability on the field amazing, but he is just such a team player and such a great, humble kid it is unbelievable. They don't make them like him much anymore."
The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Jackson runs the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds and can bench press 225 pounds three times.
"Central Michigan offered Richard during his sophomore year," O'Hara said. "They signed a kid we had in February who kind of flew under the radar and they knew that all of the SEC schools and Florida schools were going to be on Richard so they went ahead and offered. He hasn't received any other offers yet, but I've gotten calls from all over the place and he gets mail from all over."
As a junior Jackson caught 73 passes for 1,261 yards for 11 touchdowns. He also collected 41 tackles and three interceptions on defense.
"He has started every basketball game for us this year," O'Hara said. "I was talking to our basketball coach about him the other day and he was saying how when Richard is on the floor just his presence alone makes a difference. It's like that in football too, I think that's the best way to describe his effect on his teammates."
When next February rolls around Jackson is likely going to his pick of the litter in terms of offers, but he already has his eye on a few schools now.
"Really I think Richard is still very open at this point," O'Hara said. "He has expressed an interest in the three in-state schools and Alabama for sure, but I know that he is pretty much open and will listen to everyone."
Jackson is not the only prospect that college coaches will be stopping in to visit this fall. Cornerback/wide receiver Chimidi Chekwa is another player that will draw some looks.
"I'm very blessed with great kids here," O'Hara said. "Chimidi is a quiet, humble kid just like Richard is. He is very fast and very athletic and he comes from a family of great athletes. One of his sisters plays basketball at Mississippi State and the other plays volleyball for a junior college."
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Chekwa runs the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds and likely projects on the defensive side of the ball in college.
"He is getting a lot of letters from different schools right now," O'Hara said. "He is a lot like Richard in that he is very open to everyone. Right now I think most schools are recruiting him as a defensive back."
A third East Ridge prospect that is still considered a "sleeper" for now, could shed that status and earn a Division I scholarship offer with a good summer of camp showings and a big senior year, outside linebacker Chris Patrick.
"His uncle is Jack Youngblood who is considered a Florida great," O'Hara said. "Patrick is a middle linebacker for us and he has gotten a lot quicker since last year. He played his junior year at 185 pounds, but has really worked hard and is up to 209 right now. It's not fat either, he is hard as a rock. I think if he continues to get bigger he is going to make some school real happy."