Scout.com analyst Allen Trieu evaluated UK commitment Drake Jackson last weekend at The Opening — the most prestigious summer football recruiting camp in the country.
Trieu spoke to the Herald-Leader on Monday about Jackson, who was picked as one of the top offensive linemen at the camp (You can also read Jackson’s thoughts on participating in the event here).
How do you think Drake Jackson performed at The Opening?
Trieu: “I thought he did really well. Especially on Day 2 and 3 when they had the pads on — he was one of the best offensive linemen there. And for a guy who — you know, when they’re walking out on the field – he’s not the offensive linemen you’d pick out from that group of 6-5, 6-6, 6-7 monsters. And by the end of the week, he’d earned everybody’s respect. I think what stood out the most was he didn’t have a great Day 1, and he admitted it, his dad admitted it, they went back and worked on some things – and then he came back Day 2 and was outstanding. I think — where most kids kind of shy away from it when they have a bad day, maybe hang their heads a little bit — he got motivated and did exactly what he had to do. And I love that even more than the stuff he actually did on the field.”
Some analysts who were there reported that he was “playing angry” at the camp. Is that a fair assessment?
Trieu: “Yeah, it is. I noticed it right away the second day. I think he came out with a chip on his shoulder. He came out with a little bit of fire. And, the way that he played, he got under the skin of some of those defensive linemen, and that led to a little bit of chippiness. I think that’s exactly what fuels a kid like Drake, and that was definitely evident throughout the course of the week.”
And there were a couple of after-the-whistle skirmishes with him?
Trieu: “Yeah, there were a couple. There was one rep where he got his helmet ripped off and he kept blocking the kid. He showed that he’s not going to back down from anybody, and that included once the whistle was blown. A lot of that extracurricular stuff wasn’t necessarily started by him. Those guys, I think, took issue with the way he was blocking them, and they kind of initiated that extra after-the-play stuff. But Drake definitely didn’t back down from it.”
How much do you like to see that in a prospect — standing up for yourself in situations like that?
Trieu: “Oh, I love it, especially in an offensive linemen. I think that’s exactly the type of attitude that you want. When you compare it to guys who don’t share that fire, you’d much rather have that. If you’re the quarterback who would you rather have blocking for you? I want the guy that’s going to be battling for me, even after the play’s been blown dead. And you also like to see that when you go up against the best of the best, and guys that outweigh him and have more offers than him and are ranked super high. He showed that he wasn’t going to back down from any of those guys, no matter who they were. I love to see that. I think all of that adds in to the entire portrait of what makes him such a great prospect.”
I know that rankings are a group effort, but do you think he will get a little bump at the next update? Or is that ranking (No. 102 overall) about right?
Trieu: “I think it confirmed where we had him. He’s the No. 1 center (in the Midwest) and almost a top 100 player, so we expect a guy that’s ranked at that level to come in and do well at something like The Opening. I think the fact that he showed that he could do this against anybody in the country — and not just the guys regionally that I’ve seen him in camps against — that will help him possibly go up a little bit here. I could see a bump in his future. But I wanted expect any giant bump, just because I think kind of performance — more than anything else — confirms where he was. You see some guys show up and you’re like, ‘Wow, we have that guy way too high.’ This type of setting more confirms where they’re going to be, and I think Drake solidified his status as a borderline Top 100 player.”
For Drake moving forward, what can a high-profile event like this do for his confidence and where he’s going as a player?
Trieu: “I think now he’s seen the best of the best. He’s seen everything. So nothing that he comes across at the next level is going to surprise him too much. I think that he should draw a lot of confidence — and he’s never been a kid who was short on confidence — but he can try some lessons from the fact that he took some lumps on the first day, he was able to correct those things and get it right. I think that will help him when he encounters the struggles that will inevitably come with getting used to playing SEC football. If he has a bad day at practice, I don’t think it’s going to faze him.”