Jackson ignores acclaim, focuses on team

Published 9:58 pm Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Martaze Jackson’s offseason has been filled with camps, combines and collegiate coaches making overtures. But his mind has remained focused upon one thing; his team.

“I think he’s handled it real well,” Demopolis High School head coach Tom Causey said of Jackson. “The most important thing to Martaze right now is the success of his team.”

Jackson has received attention from a number of collegiate teams, a fact that does not seem to have fazed him to this point.

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“I’m calm and relaxed and just keeping my mind focused on the team,” Jackson said. “The rest will come.”

The attention has reportedly led to Jackson’s first offer from the Ohio Valley Conference’s Jacksonsville State.

“There are a lot of schools that have been recruiting me,” Jackson said. “I got an offer from Jacksonville State. That’s my very first one. But there are more to come. That is what the rest of the coaches say anyway. They just have to decide whether I should play linebacker or whether I should continue playing defensive end.”

At 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, Jackson has seen considerable success as a defensive end. However, a number of collegiate coaches believe Jackson’s future in the game is as an outside linebacker.

But for Jackson, the notion that a position switch would help his personal stock was not enough to prompt the move.

“If it’s not something that is going to help us win a 5A state championship, he doesn’t want to do it,” Causey said of Jackson’s approach to the move.

The long-armed senior, who has clocked as low as a 4.5 during offseason combines, has been working out with the linebacker group this summer and is likely to see time at both positions in the fall.

“It isn’t really much difference,” Jackson said. “(At linebacker) I take my hand off the ground and I play a little more coverage. I’ve still got to be focused and pay attention.

“He’s handling it great,” defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Rudy Griffin said of Jackson’s progress while attempting to make the transition. “He’s really been working at it and trying to learn.”

Jackson’s approach to the task of learning a new position has also caught the attention of his head coach.

“I think he’s eager to learn,” Causey said. “I think he’s willing to do whatever needs to be done.”

Jackson will talk about his collegiate future and his success on the field after a great deal of prodding, but quickly switches his attentions back to teammates like fellow senior Tremaine Sanders.

“I wouldn’t be good without him and he wouldn’t be good without me,” Jackson said of the way he and Sanders compliment one another.

It is that team-first mindset that Causey believes has propelled Jackson to a lofty status within the Demopolis locker room.

“I think his teammates respect him and how he works,” Causey said. “He leads by example. He goes full speed in everything he does.”

That work ethic coupled with Jackson’s natural abilities have Griffin, a former defensive lineman for the University of Alabama, confident in the young man’s future within the game.

“I think he has a bright future,” Griffin said. “There are not many guys I played with who had his speed and his agility at his size and at his age.”

So the question seems a simple one. Where will Martaze Jackson go?

When asked where he is headed , Jackson answers with absolute certainty, “We’re going all the way. I expect us to go all the way.”