ISN Interview with 2016 Top-Ranked Center Recruit Drake Jackson
July 7, 2015 | Interview, NCAA | No Comments|
Drake Jackson of Versailles, Kentucky is the number one ranked center, and the 71st overall ranked recruit, in the college football Class of 2016. Jackson attends Woodford County High School and is an upcoming senior; posts a 375 lb bench press and 590 lb squat max along with a 5.40 40-yard dash and a 4.51 three cone shuttle. Drake is a full on verbal commit to the University of Kentucky, also receiving offers from the likes of Alabama, Ohio State and many more.
I have had the utmost pleasure to interview the studded prospect.
Seeing all the guys my age on TV going through the process of being recruited and signing on to play college ball, what is it like to live the experience and is it anything like you had thought it would be like?
Yes it’s what I thought it would be. I didn’t expect to be signing autographs at the grocery store, but I do get requests to take pictures with little kids. I’m having fun with it.
You are the number one center recruit in your respective class. What disadvantages, if any, come with being such a highly ranked prospect?
I wouldn’t say disadvantages, but I do have a target on my back. I like that, because it means that I’m still doing the right thing, and I like the challenge.
Even though Kentucky is your hometown, it must have been difficult to turn down the likes of Alabama, Ohio State and many others that are in a better situation to win. Damien Harris, the number one running back in the 2015, couldn’t turn down Alabama for stardom at Kentucky. In the end what got you to stick with going to UK?
I trust the coaching staff. I think Damien picked Alabama because he felt they could offer him the best chance at the NFL. I want to play in the league too, but I know the UK staff can get me to that level as well as anyone can.
You’re heading into you’re senior season at Woodford County; you guys went 4-7 last year, according to Max Preps, but seem to have a solid team this year. What expectations do you have for your team this year?
We will be better. Our offensive line is scary. Seth Joest is committed to WKU on scholarship, and Saige Young has FBS offers. The rest of our team is very experienced, and I expect that we make a run that hasn’t been made at Woodford for quite a while.
As you’re probably in the midst of those dreadful summer workouts and two-a-days, it’s easy for your body to start wearing down even before the season starts. What kind of work ethic do you put yourself through in order to not only make yourself physically and conditionally better but also to keep your body healthy?
To keep myself healthy, I just do the right things. I don’t party, I’m not out until 3 am doing stupid stuff. I workout consistently, and do everything I know I’m supposed to do.
You made a big statement by declaring to play for Kentucky. You say that you’re coming here because you want to do something special. What do you plan on doing at the Bluegrass that will make this team, that’s on the verge of becoming a contender in the SEC East, take that next step to becoming a great football team?
Everybody committed to UK has the same goal: to win an SEC championship. We aren’t ignorant, we know history isn’t in our favor, and that the SEC doesn’t just allow programs to totally turn around without a fight. We want to compete against the best. The UK 2016 class is really close together, we have a group chat, and my phone is constantly blowing up. We’ve all met each other in person. I think that our chemistry is already through the roof. We want to win as a team.
The thing about Big Blue Nation is that the fans are not only totally crazy, but also are very passionate and loving of their Wildcats. The fans have seemed to already latch onto you through social media and such; how’re you liking the buzz from the fan-base so far?
I like the buzz, but I know I still have to earn everything. Stars and All-American honors get thrown out the window the minute I step on campus, but I’m ready for that and I can’t wait to put in work at UK.
You once tweeted that you would have still picked to play for Kentucky even if they weren’t your home-state school. Is that due to you being a huge fan of UK or a strong liking to the coaching staff or something different?
Yes it’s true. I want to do something special, and Kentucky is the place to do it. Coach Schlarman is someone who pulled me to UK, made it easy for me to trust in their ability to develop me. I wouldn’t want to play for any other coach in the country.
Where do you see yourself in five years? (After what would be your senior season at Kentucky is over.)
I’ll give you the easy answer: NFL. Of course that is everyone’s goal, and I’ll do anything to reach it. If that doesn’t work out, I want to stay in the team and try to find a job coaching. I want to coach in college even if I play in the league for 15 years.
There’s currently a quarterback competition going on between last year’s starter Patrick Towles and red-shirt freshman Drew Barker. Obviously you’re likely gonna be snapping the ball to one of them once you get to UK, which one would you rather have calling the signals right behind you?
I don’t have a preference for one more than the other. They are both great. I want to be snapping the ball to the one who will give us the best chance to win, and that will be determined later.
When I think of a great center coming to Kentucky, I think of NFL Hall of Fame center Dermontti Dawson, who played at UK for four years before a glorious career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Do you see yourself as worthy of comparisons to someone like Dawson?
I would like to think so, but I’m not in any position to compare myself to the best center of all time. I certainly would love to be able to in the future, he is someone that I look up to.
Last question for you. Kentucky is a team that could go either way this season. Obviously they started 5-1 last year before losing their last six games. Nobody is quite sure what the season will hold for this year. Some say maybe seven wins, some say nine even. Others go four or five. What would the difference be, for you when you’re a freshman, coming onto a team that’s coming off a seven or nine win season rather than a four or five win season?
Well I obviously want to come into a team that has won as many games as possible. That would mean strong job security for the staff, strong momentum, and an overall good feeling when I’m there. I want the next step to be an SEC championship, not just trying to make a bowl game.