There is little doubt that Heidelberg (Miss.) senior Zachary Jackson has experienced a huge range of emotions the past year. The Dandy Dozen performer accomplished one of his goals by inking with Mississippi State back in February and will soon enter his college football career.
Then before he signed, however, Jackson suffered a shoulder injury that plagued his senior season and cost him several games of action. But these days, Jackson is working his way back to full strength.
"I had shoulder surgery about a month and a half ago," said Jackson, who still managed to rush for 683 yards and seven touchdowns last year and also total 47 tackles, four sacks and four forced fumbles. "I did some powerlifting and some track as long as I could before the surgery. I had a separated shoulder during the season and some torn cartilage.
"I would say I am around 85 percent right now. I am still able to do my conditioning and that is the main thing I've been doing, that and doing some work with dumb bells. The doctors plan to release me to start back lifting at a full capacity in mid-May."
And later this month, Jackson will report to Starkville and join his new teammates for summer workout.
"I will be there on May 29th and I am so ready to get there and so excited," said Jackson. "I already have my workout book and I got in a month's work with that book before I had surgery. So I didn't fall off much. But I was at 208 pounds but I dropped down to 204 after my surgery."
Since signing with the Bulldogs, Jackson said he's remained in steady contact with the MSU coaches as well as his fellow classmates in the Class of 2011.
"I talk to Coach (Tony) Hughes a good bit and he came by last week just to make sure all my grades were in order and they were," said Jackson. "I am either rooming with Derrick Milton or Darion Arrington and it will probably be Derrick. I keep up with both of those guys pretty good. I also keep up with Daniel Knox and Joe Morrow and we're already good at communicating and building that bond."
During his prep career, Jackson manned many spots on the field and did so at quarterback, running back, defensive back and linebacker as a senior. He was inked as a safety by the Bulldogs but added he could eventually grow into another position.
"Well, the coaches talked about safety for awhile," said Jackson. "But they also said by my sophomore or junior year that there was a strong possibility that I could be at outsidel inebacker. It really doesn't matter to me and I just want to play for the Bulldogs and I don't care what they have me doing."
Naturally, Jackson understands he faces a tough transition to the next level like all incoming true freshmen. But he is also intrigued by what he can accomplish in the SEC.
"Everybody says I have never been pushed to my full potential," said Jackson. "So I am ready to see what my full potential is and I know the coaches will push me to the fullest. But I am just so ready to get back into football. Sure, it's going to be different. It will be different being gone from home and having to make your own decisions. But I am ready for all of that."