BY GENE NARDI
If you talk to Shamar Jackson, he will tell you he has grown up playing football and wants to show everyone what he’s capable of on the gridiron. The Royal Palm Beach High School senior played both on offense and defense for the Wildcats this season, as a running back and free safety. He proved to be equally dangerous to opposing teams on both sides of the ball.
Jackson helped his team achieve its most successful season in school history. The Wildcats fell short of the playoffs last year. While the team had an impressive 8-2 record, a couple of disappointing key district games caused them to miss the post-season. This year, Royal Palm Beach ended with an even more impressive 11-2 finish, the District 13-7A title, two playoff wins against Fort Lauderdale and Atlantic, and a regional finals appearance.
Jackson’s contributions on offense included 92 carries totaling 900 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns. Jackson also recorded one reception for a score. Defensively, he reeled in six interceptions, proving to be a thorn in the side of opposing quarterbacks.
He was often avoided during special teams, when opposing kicking teams took the field, due to his speed and ability to shake tacklers in the open field. He was quick to give credit to his offensive line.
“All the credit goes to those guys; without them I couldn’t do it,” he told the Town-Crier.
Jackson still has two more football games left in his high school career. In the coming weeks, he will be making appearances in two all-star games, the Florida-Georgia game and the North-South Outback game.
What most people don’t know about Jackson is that he spends his time in the off-season running for the Wildcats track and field team,regional quarterfinal game participating in several sprint and jumping events. He believes that track has helped him on the field.
“Track helped me a lot, especially in the open field and I hit that second gear,” he said.
Last year, Jackson helped his track team take the conference and county titles, and a second place in regionals. He also spends hours in the gym lifting weights to increase the strength on his 5-foot-8, 160-pound frame. Jackson can bench press 275 pounds and squat 355 pounds. After all of the training, he still manages his time in the classroom and wants to study business once he graduates.
Jackson explained his dual support function within the family. He gets total support from his parents, and supports his two younger brothers on the football field as well. His two younger brothers play in the Western Communities Football League, and Jackson helps train them.
“I try to stay positive with my younger brothers when they’re on the field and encourage them,” he said, also emphasizing the importance of education. “I tell them your grades have to come first.”
For now, Jackson is focused on preparing for offers from colleges. South Dakota is making an offer, and Utah State, Eastern Kentucky and Robert Morris have contacted him with interest. More are sure to follow. What he may lack in size, Jackson makes up for in his passion and determination, on and off the field.
ABOVE: Royal Palm Beach running back Shamar Jackson breaks a run to the outside for a big gain against district rival Atlantic.