ShareThis Page

Highlands WR serves as speedy complement to his RB brother

| Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, 9:24 p.m.
Erica Dietz | Trib Total Media
Highlands' Jeremy Jackson runs drills during football practice at Highlands High School on Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014.

From Pee Wees to Wasps, Jeremy Jackson made his mark in Highland Hornets youth football as a running back, routinely returning to the hive with six points. Once a tiny, football-toting tyke in a giant helmet, he had a 40-touchdown season.

Now a senior at Highlands, Jackson is one of the A-K Valley's top wide receivers, a catch-and-go speedster who used the position change to not only help Highlands win, but also to keep up with his brother.

“We compete with each other in everything,” Jackson said of the relationship between him and his brother, Elijah, a senior running back. “If he scores, then I want to score. We had never been on the same team until last year. He pushes me, and I push him.”

The Jacksons grew up in the New Kensington-Arnold School District and would have gone to Valley had the family not moved across the Tarentum Bridge when the boys were in the fourth grade.

Highlands is glad they packed up the U-Haul.

Jeremy Jackson was a quiet-at-first offensive threat in a tough Class AAA Greater Allegheny Conference. But with Highlands dropping to Class AA for the first time, Jackson won't be able to sneak up on defenses. And he doesn't think his team can sneak up on anyone, either.

“Just because we dropped down people think we're going to come down here and kill everybody,” Jackson said. “We still have to be at our best. Coach A (Sam Albert) reminds us we still have to play our best.”

Jackson said Golden Rams assistant coach John Duffey, his cousin, first suggested to move him to wide receiver, a position Duffey played at Highlands.

Elijah Jackson was a 1,200-yard back last season and will centerpiece the offense again, his brother out wide and grinning.

“I moved (to receiver) because I didn't want to take my brother's spot,” Jeremy said with a laugh.

Jeremy Jackson (5-foot-11, 170 pounds), known as “JayJack,” caught 10 passes for 195 yards and four touchdowns last season. He also can be a streak of lightning on special teams as a kick and punt returner — as can his brother. Both had returns for touchdowns last year.

“With (Jeremy's) speed, you want to get the ball in his hands,” Highlands coach Sam Albert said. “With him at the slot, along with (receivers) Jordan Lineberg and Chris Fick, it's pick your poison we hope. But if teams key on those guys, that'll open thing up for ‘Reggie' (Elijah).”

The plan can work the other way, too.

In a scrimmage against Hopewell, Highlands saw a nine-man front as the Vikings tried to contain Elijah Jackson, but Highlands threw for four scores.

Jeremy Jackson wants to become more of a down-field threat — senior quarterback Blake Leri thinks he can be — but he showed last season that he was most dangerous on hitches and slants, bubble-screens and swing passes.

“Give me a short pass and I'll do the rest,” Jackson said.

He caught a quick slant and burned New Castle for a 38-yard touchdown in Highlands' 24-19 first-round playoff win.

“He's explosive,” Leri said. “He can make things happen in the flat. I think the sky's the limit for him.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.