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FFE SPOTLIGHT: North Cross senior James Jackson looks ahead to ACC future at UVA

Published: Nov. 22, 2020 at 7:55 PM EST|Updated: 18 hours ago
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - In a season that was already unlike any other before it, North Cross managed to play just half of its eight scheduled games, winning them all by a combined score of 210-34.

Raiders senior linebacker and wide receiver James Jackson has made the most of the opportunity to play this fall, though—even when the competition was, at times, overmatched.

“It’s been different this season,” he said, “but it’s just a new challenge that I had to face.”

Jackson knows the intensity will soon be ramped up, though, as he sets his sights on the ACC and the University of Virginia.

“They offered me in June,” said Jackson. “They actually offered me on my birthday, so that was something I definitely remember from my birthday, that was a good birthday present.

“Once I got that rolling, I started talking to some of the people who had already committed. I liked what was going on. I’ve always liked what they had going on there, just from seeing them at camp and stuff. So that’s what led me to go in that path and that direction.”

Playing for one of the premier programs in the Commonwealth wasn’t always Jackson’s vision, though.

He says moving from Pulaski County to North Cross helped him grow both on the field and in the classroom.

“That’s one of the reasons I came to Roanoke to go to North Cross,” said Jackson. “I wanted to go to college. I didn’t want to have to take out some loans and have a lot of student debt to go to college. I wanted to come up here and use my abilities to go to the next level, so working for that and earning that is really big for me. My family, they’re in Virginia, so representing them is big for me, too.”

“The reason I think James is going to be successful at the next level is because he is so aggressive in the way he prepares,” said North Cross head coach Stephen Alexander. “He’s a preparation guy. He’s relentless in trying to make himself better, and so that’s what he’s going to do when he shows up at UVA.”

Alexander said, beyond his all-state ability on the field, Jackson also stepped up as the Raiders’ vocal leader this season.

But as big an impact as he had on them, Jackson says it’s the support he got in return that has helped shape the player and the person he is today.

“Coming here, it really taught me a lot,” he said. “I had a lot of people who just gave me direction and kind of showed me what was right and what I should be doing. They instilled a lot of things in me. A lot of my hard work, a lot of my focus has come from the people I’ve been around here: the teachers, the coaches, the administration, the faculty. All of them have been huge in my life.”

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