- By Jason Dougas Lewis
- In Student Athlete of the Week
Myles Jackson is tough, relentless, smart, and he loves to hit people...on the football field. Photo by Jason Lewis
Andrew "AJ" Jackson is a personal trainer who has helped a number of young athletes achieve their goals through his company AthurZ Sports Training and Fitness. He takes great pride in helping his son Myles make it to the next level. Photo by Jason Lewis
Article originally published by the Los Angeles Sentinel. www.lasentinel.net
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor (2010-2013)
A football player has to have two traits to play middle linebacker. He has to be tough, and he has to be smart. Both of those attributes describe University High School linebacker Myles Jackson, who has had a great senior season.
Through the 10 game regular season, Jackson racked up 117 tackles, many of them being for a loss. His great player nearly earned him the Western League defensive player of the year. He finished second in the voting.
Jackson has been playing football since he was a little kid, playing in the Snoop Dogg League. Playing for so many seasons has helped him become one of the top linebackers in the City, and he is playing a position that fits him perfectly as he enjoys knocking his opponents around.
"You get to be physical with people, you get to take your frustration out on people, and you just have fun while you're out there on the field flying around," Jackson said. "You have to be relentless all the time. Physical all the time."
Middle linebacker is a hitting position, where there is contact on every single play because interior offensive linemen target that position on running players.
"It's tough, but I'm a hard hitter, so it doesn't matter to me," Jackson said. "I'm used to it all the time. I get to hit on every play."
On many plays where the running back is coming right up the middle, it is just him and the middle linebacker, and that is when Jackson makes it happen.
"I'm going to hit him as hard as I can, and I'm going to get the tackle for a loss," Jackson said.
Jackson's tough mentality and love for football can be partially attributed to his father, Andrew "AJ" Jackson, who was a star running back and defensive back at Manual Arts High School in 1982, and he went on to play at USC before transferring to Iowa St. He played in the NFL for the Houston Oilers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
AJ is a personal trainer here in Los Angeles, and he trained Oregon running back Kenjon Barner while Barner was in high school. AJ has trained his son, which gives Jackson another advantage on the football field. The training that AJ has provided his son has helped him greatly to fend off blocks and deliver crushing blows, and the speed training has helped Jackson with his footwork. More importantly, AJ has inspired his son.
"He's the one that I look up to," Jackson said of his father. "He's been teaching me to stay humble and to try to keep my composure, and to just be a smart young man."
As a former football player, AJ sees qualities in his son that will help him succeed.
"He's a hard worker," AJ said. "I call him 'quiet storm.' He doesn't say a whole lot, but he works hard. He studies film. He's been around football his whole life and he is a student of the game."
Like any father that is invested in his child, AJ is extremely proud of what his son is doing, and that he can be a part of it.
"It means a whole lot to me," AJ said. "You know, by me helping a lot of kids achieve their dreams and reach their goals, and seeing my son have a special season, to be able to be a part of that, it means a lot to me as a father and a trainer."
Jackson also gets a lot of support from his mother.
"My mother doesn't know much about football, but she knows my position," Jackson said. "She comes to support me at all of the games, even when it is far."
Jackson's mother has taught him to be independent, as she owns her own business. She encourages him to continue to strive for his goal.
One attribute that helps Jackson is that he has a low center of gravity, because he is only 5-9. He is not very tall, which can cause colleges to over look him, but at 205 pounds, he has a lot of mass and strength. Because he has a low center of gravity, he can get under offensive linemen's pad levels, and he does not have to worry about running backs getting lower than him. In football, it has always been said that the low man wins. That is the truth in Jackson's case.
AJ compares his son to former New Orleans Saints linebacker Sam Mills, who was also 5-9. Mills was overlooked by many big time colleges, so he attended Montclair State University. He went undrafted by the NFL because of his height, but he won a spot in the USFL, and he later made it to the NFL. Mills played in five Pro Bowls and was named to the All-Pro team four times.
Jackson also compares to London Fletcher, who is 5-10 and currently plays for the Washington Redskins. Fletcher, like Mills, was overlooked by a number of big time colleges. He ended up at Division III John Carroll University, where he set records for tackles.
Fletcher went undrafted by the NFL, but he was signed as a free agent. Fourteen years later he is still playing in the NFL, he has a Super Bowl ring with the Rams, and he has been named to three Pro Bowls.
Jackson may not have the height, but he has the strength, speed, toughness, and smarts to play football.
"Being smart on the field helps by remembering assignments and the different schemes that the coaches put together," Jackson said.
Jackson has a 3.0 grade point average, which qualifies him for just about any Division I program in the nation.
"He's maintaining," AJ said. "He started off with a 3.0, and he's maintained that 3.0. That's one of the things that I told him. You have to have a 3.0 or better to get into college. And he is right there at our goal."
The key for Jackson is to be consistent with his class work and homework, which helps prepare him for exams. His favorite subject is math, and he plans to major in kinesiology when he gets to college. That major will help him athletically, and when his playing career is over, he wants to be a trainer like his father. Jackson would like to work for a professional or college team.