Terrell Jackson talks as if he were a cartoon superhero. It’s part of his indestructible football mind-set that inspires him to do things other running backs can’t accomplish.
“I’m not going to let one person stop me or a team,” he said. “I want to be untouchable. When a team walks away, I want them to say, ‘Man, that’s one of the best running backs I’ve ever played against.’ ”
There’s no argument that Jackson enters the 2003 high school season as the No. 1 running back in Southern California after a junior season at Corona Centennial in which he rushed for 2,344 yards and scored 50 touchdowns.
His reputation reached a high point in the Southern Section Division V championship game against Riverside North. He scored eight touchdowns in Centennial’s 57-55 triple-overtime victory.
“We were going, ‘We could coach 30 years and never be involved in a game like that,’ ” Centennial Coach Matt Logan said.
Jackson had 195 yards in 41 carries against North. His short touchdown run with nine seconds left in regulation sent the game into overtime and launched a series of nerve-racking championship moments.
“It’s probably one of the most amazing games,” Jackson said. “I guess I was in a zone. The offensive line did a tremendous job, and I just ran. It’s indescribable. You really can’t say how your feelings were because it was up and down. It was like, ‘All right, we got this game.’ Then it was, ‘Dang, we’re behind.’ It was an emotional roller coaster.”
At 5 feet 9 and 190 pounds, with speed and power, Jackson is an offensive weapon that Centennial exploits for every benefit.
“He’s the complete package,” Logan said. “He has great vision, good hands, everything you want in a running back.
“I think his potential is unlimited. He can accomplish as much as he wants.”
Making Jackson’s high school achievements even more impressive is that he has run behind rebuilt offensive lines as a sophomore and junior, and will do so again this fall.
“I’ll put up the yards as long as they keep blocking,” he said.
Jackson grew up in Carson until moving to Corona with his mother when he was in elementary school. He has been playing tackle football since he was 7. He patterns his game after three future Hall of Fame running backs: Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders and Marshall Faulk.
“Emmitt’s vision is great,” Jackson said. “He could just pick the holes. Barry Sanders had great open-field moves. Marshall Faulk is a great all-around player.”
Durability and size are concerns some college recruiters have about Jackson, who’s being recruited by Arizona State, UCLA and California, among others. Doubts only fuel his motivation.
“Some of the big Division I schools might shy away from me,” he said. “I’m not 5-10, 6 feet, but I have more moves and better vision. I like to bang, shake a linebacker and try to drop a shoulder on the DB. What separates me is a lot of people start out a game strong and kind of wear out. I start out the game the same and keep getting stronger.”
Ryan Phipps, Centennial’s senior middle linebacker, knows what it’s like trying to tackle Jackson in practice.
“It’s not easy, that’s for sure,” he said. “He’s so darn quick. He’s there one second and gone the next.”
That’s life trying to tackle Jackson. Either drop him when you can or watch as he runs for the end zone.
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How They Rate
A look at the top running backs in the Southland:
*--* Rk Player, Sch Ht Wt Yr Comment 1 Byron Ellis, Ven 6-1 190 Sr Fast, smart, elusive 2 Jeremiah Johnson, 5-10 180 Jr Might lead team to City title Dor 3 Patrick Perry, Ban 6-1 200 Sr Powerful runner who breaks tackles 4 Bryan Baylor, Birm 5-7 175 Sr Looked great at the Coliseum 5 Ian Bell, Taft 5-11 190 Sr Will he fulfill expectations? 6 Anthony Dickson, 5-11 190 Sr Averaged 10.1 yds per carry Grant 7 Matt Sattler, El 6-0 215 Sr Could rush for 2,000 yds Cam 8 Marlon Lucky, No 6-0 200 Jr A hard-nosed, physical runner Hol 9 Travis Lee, Jeff 5-8 160 Sr Has explosive ability 10 Chris Green, Syl 5-11 185 Sr Newcomer with lots of potential
*--* Rk Player, School Ht Wt Yr Comment 1 Terrell Jackson, Cor 5-9 190 Sr Scoring 50 touchdowns says Cen plenty 2 Josh Barnett, Riv No 5-10 175 Sr Rushed for 1,620 yards, scored 26 TDs 3 Ryan Mole, Righ 5-11 185 Sr Averaged 9.6 yards per carry 4 Patrick Fuller, Ch Oak 5-11 205 Sr Headed for elite status 5 Ryan Kelley, Gar Ser 5-10 180 Sr Averaged 9.2 yards per carry 6 Robbie Allen, Arr Vly 6-0 195 Sr He’s versatile, fast, elusive 7 Jordan Munde, Pen 6-2 200 Sr Rushed for 1,911 yards in 11 games 8 Joe Garcia, Mor By 5-11 205 Sr Gained 1,750 yards 9 Jamal Floyd, Claremont 5-9 185 Sr Had 1,399 yds as a jr 10 Julius Stinson, 5-10 175 Sr Scored 26 tds last season Silverado 11 Brian Allen, Fullerton 5-10 160 Sr Rushed for 1,320 yds in 2002 12 Ricky Russell, Mater 6-1 215 Jr Ready to make impact in Dei Div I 13 Jamielle Gummer, 6-0 195 Sr Will gain yds with Mission Viejo authority 14 Aaron Ware, Oaks Chris 6-1 183 Jr If he’s healthy, beware 15 Dan Howell, Hart 6-1 200 Sr Best-kept secret at passing school 16 Cheyne Verhagen, San 5-11 185 Sr Rushed for 1,599 yds Cle 17 Louis Montano, Canyon 5-9 185 Sr Rushed for 1,439 yds 18 Justin Jones, Orange 5-9 175 Sr Averaged 8.6 yds per carry 19 Randall Brown, Los 5-10 180 Sr Give him an inch and he’s Altos gone 20 Marquis Malcom, Tustin 5-8 180 Sr Rushed for 1,804 yds 21 Devin Martinez, 5-7 190 Sr Rushed for 1,932 yds, 35 Cathedral TDs 22 Dwight Tardy, St. Paul 5-11 200 Jr Gained 1,750 yds as a soph 23 Matt Lee, St. Bon 5-7 155 Jr Has breakaway speed 24 Brandon Clayton, S.O. 5-8 160 Sr No fumbles in 159 carries Notre Dame 25 Quaadir Brown, 5-11 185 Jr Averaged 8.2 yds per carry Elsinore 26 Armon DeLauney, 5-10 195 Sr Rushed for 1,172 yds Culver City 27 Brian Flowers, 5-8 175 Sr Has speed to attract col Inglewood interest
-- Eric Sondheimer