By Joseph Staszewski
Brandon Jackson has had a longstanding affinity for West Point.
His mother, Morna Davis, is a member of the U.S. Army Reserves and spent a year serving in Iraq in 2006. The Holy Cross defensive back grew up watching Army play football on television and dreamed of one day joining them.
“It’s something I always thought about if I had the opportunity to play football there,” Jackson said.
That chance was non-existent as of a few weeks ago. Jackson built a great relationship with then-Lafayette defensive coordinator John Loose, but Loose left the Leopards to join the staff of first-year Army Coach Jeff Monken. Jackson was left without certainty about where he would attend college with National Signing Day approaching. Talks with Sacred Heart and Bryant fell through.
“It was like I was lost and didn’t know which direction I was going to go,” Jackson said.
One phone call changed that.
Loose, now the Army linebacker’s coach, recently got in touch with Jackson, asking him if he’d be interested in playing at West Point. It was a pleasant surprise that Jackson couldn’t pass up.
Jackson, who has a 91 average at Holy Cross, committed to Army last week and joined Fordham Prep running back Malik Crossdale in the recruiting class.
“I really felt that was a coach I wanted to play for,” Jackson said. “For him to give me an opportunity to go to West Point with him, I was happy for it.”
He said his mom was extremely proud of his decision, and Jackson believes her being in the Army will help prepare him for the rigors ahead.
“I’m not going into it blind,” she said.
The Black Knights are getting one of the city’s top playmakers. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Jackson, an All-Queens first team selection by TimesLedger Newspapers, had a senior season filled with highlights.
He caught the winning touchdown pass in the final seconds victory over Mount St. Michael in September. Jackson had two interceptions and returned one for a touchdown against Fordham Prep also in September. His biggest play was a 65-yard punt return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter in a playoff win over St. Francis Prep in November.
“He’s a natural on kickoff returns and punt returns,” Knights Coach Tom Pugh said.
The longtime head man thought Jackson would have further made a name for himself as a receiver had Holy Cross featured a better throwing quarterback. He thinks Jackson could play that position as well at the next level if needed.
“He would have put up big numbers,” Pugh said.
Jackson is excited to get a chance to bring his skills to Army. He feels more relaxed now that the decision is made, and wants to focus on getting better as a player before heading to West Point.
“I have an overall idea of what to expect and what is going to happen,” Jackson said. “But it’s always different when you are actually there.”