If an up and coming offensive lineman had his pick of what coaching staff he might want to play for in college, the new staff at Arkansas may not be a bad choice. What’s even better is if that staff chooses you.
That’s what has happened to Conway Wampus Cat left tackle Colton Jackson. Jackson obtained a scholarship offer from the Razorbacks at a camp during the summer despite the fact that before Friday’s 24-7 win over Bryant, Jackson had not made one single start in high school.
Wampus Cats’ head coach Clint Ashcraft said size (6-6, 300), mobility, and attitude were key ingredients in getting the offer from the Hogs.
"He’s 6-6, and pushing 300," Ashcraft said. "He can move, and has good foot work."
Ashcraft said Jackson’s demeanor will serve him well.
"He’s a quiet kid," Ashcraft said. "You don’t have to yell at him in able to get him to do something. You tell him, and he does it."
Since his sophomore season, Aschraft said Jackson has put on an excess of 40-45 pounds of "good weight".
"He’s put on a lot of muscle," Ashcraft said. "His weight has caught up to his height."
Playing largely as a backup last season, Jackson’s first start was successful as he did not allow his quarterback to be sacked.
"He played well, as did our whole offensive line," Ashcraft said.
If Jackson accepts the Razorbacks’ offer, then he will learn from an offensive line coach with an extensive resume.
Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman had four former players selected in the 2013 NFL Draft, including offensive guard Jonathan Cooper, who he coached for four years at North Carolina. Cooper was taken seventh overall by the Arizona Cardinals, which made him the highest offensive guard selection since 1986. Guard Dallas Thomas was taken in the second round by Miami, tackle Brennan Williams was a third-round pick by Houston and guard Travis Bond was picked in the seventh round by Minnesota.
Pittman oversaw the offensive line for current Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney at Tennessee in 2012, when the Volunteers led the SEC and ranked fourth in the NCAA in fewest sacks allowed per game, following five seasons coaching the offensive line at North Carolina.
Ashcraft said if Jackson continues to work hard and take coaching, he has a chance to "do something great" at the next level.
"He is very enjoyable to be around," Ashcraft said. "He has a good attitude. He’s not hard to manage. He is very coachable."
All those attributes are what the Razorback coaches saw in Jackson to offer him a scholarship without seeing one second of game tape. Who knows how many more opportunities are in Jackson’s way.