George County Defensive Lineman McKinnley Jackson is certainly one of a kind. This afternoon, the state’s number one recruit for the class of 2020 was the one player from Mississippi to receive his All-American Bowl jersey, making him the only one from Lucedale to ever do so.
“It’s an honor. To be the first – I don’t want to be last, but it’s good to be first. Just to start a legacy, a tradition that can be for a long time here at this program. This high school is known for putting out talent, but it’s good to be first.”
The best to ever do it at George County, McKinnley Jackson is now part of an elite roster comprised of the nation’s top 100 high school football players, following in the footsteps of the 380 All-American Bowl alumni turned NFL draft picks. “I could be next. It’s a real honor. Especially, I know those guys. They’ve been here, and to see what they’re doing now – it’s a big stage – so I just want to showcase my talents to some of the top players in the country.”
A four-star defensive tackle, according to 24/7 Sports, Jackson has long been chosen for this kind of stardom. Even dating all the way back to his first meeting with George County Head Coach Matt Caldwell in the eighth grade. “He looked about 18 at that point, but he was only 14. And like I told the story earlier, he came out that one day of eighth grade spring and we knew he was special. I mean I had never seen him do anything athletically until that day, and we knew at that very moment what a special guy he could be.”
Twenty-nine Division I offers later, Jackson has an all-you-can-eat buffet of SEC schools knocking on his door, leading up to February’s National Signing Day. Yet, he’s always had the self-awareness to make sure everyone else had their food first. “I want to see other people shine. If I shine that’s one thing, but to see somebody else shine, that’s the big thing.”
“Most young men, they could take all this attention and turn it to all about me, me, me, me, me and he doesn’t do that. He deflects the praise to other people. And talk about him being a servant leader, that’s just him. That’s who he is as a young man, and that will take him a long way in life.”
Wherever Jackson ends up, he says he wants to be at a program that can really change his life. The crazy thing is he’s already been that change for the next generation at George County where he leaves behind an All-American legacy for future Rebels to follow. “The years I’ve done put in like in the class, on the field, just like the hard work I’ve put in. I mean this hasn’t been easy. I mean high school is easy but it hasn’t been easy. Just like I have a passion for what I do for this school. I just want to see somebody else be in my shoes one day at George County High School. I want to be a tradition.”
This season, Jackson helped lead his Rebels back to the playoffs for the first time since 2016 with an overall record of 7-5. As for the 20th annual All-Star Classic, the All-American Bowl will be an east-west affair, played on January 4th at noon from the Alamadome in San Antonio, Texas.