Zachary’s four-star safety Kylin Jackson listens intently to the rankings and shakes his head.
He’s a consensus top 10 safety – rated as high as No. 7 nationally by 247Sports – but remains unfazed.
“I’ve got a lot to prove,” Jackson said. “I’m not where I want to be. I want to be No. 1. Top 10’s not good enough. You’ve got to work. I just roam around. I want the ball everywhere it goes.
“You’ve got to be aggressive if you want to play safety. I’ve been like that. You’ve got to be aggressive to play defense. That’s Zachary’s defense. The physicality.”
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Jackson remains somewhat close to the vest about his college options. While there’s been a flurry of activity on the recruiting trail nationally, with some of the nation’s top prospects making their commitments, Jackson remains content to allow his process to play out.
“Recruiting’s still open, there are no favorites,” said Jackson, who has been to LSU and Texas A&M on unofficial visits with plans this month to visit Oregon, Michigan, Nebraska and Tennessee. “I just want to be where I feel like it’s home. That’s for me. I want to come in and play. I know I have to work hard for that.”
Jackson was a mainstay in the secondary for a Zachary team that went 15-0 and claimed the school’s fourth Class 5A state championship. He’s regarded for his physical play, a player that doesn’t mind coming up into the box to force the run where he was fourth on last year’s team with 74 tackles – including 51 solos with a forced fumble and fumble recovery. He also broke up 11 passes and an interception.
He was voted to the Class 5A All-State and All-District 4-5A first teams.
“With the coverages we play, he’s not a deep, free roaming free safety where he can break on balls sideline to sideline,” Zachary football coach David Brewerton said. “He’s more of a guy that we’re going to ask to come into the box. Not line up there but get to the box during the course of the box and make a play. It’s what we ask him to do.”
Rivals.com has Jackson on the cusp of its Top 100 (No. 108) players nationally. He’s the consensus No. 8 safety among all three recruiting sites and state’s ninth-best player.
But he wants more and doesn’t hide his feelings.
“Where I’m from, you’ve got to stay humble and work hard,” Jackson said. “If you’re not humble, it’s nothing. Stay humble, work and leave it up to God.”
It’s typical, when not working out with his teammates or taking part in 7-on-7, for Jackson to live out his mantra. Whether he’s outside on his own, working on his footwork with ladder drills, he’s training two to three days a week on conditioning and technique.
He wants to be the very best and willing to pay the price to get there.
“You’ve got to work to be the best,” he said. “You can’t let anyone outwork you. I want to be a better leader. I’m a senior. We don’t have too many seniors on defense. I’ve got to step up.”
Jackson is a native of nearby Clinton and began his career at Class 2A East Feliciana High School before transferring to Zachary for the start of his sophomore season. He’s been a natural fit on defense where the Broncos are typically stingy and the ’21 season was no different where his fierce play, which included a season-high seven tackles on three occasions, complimented the team’s aggressive interior.
By the time the Broncos closed out a perfect season with a 28-20 victory over pass-happy Ponchatoula, college coaches knew the value of Jackson and the role he could play.
“It’s blown up since the Superdome,” Jackson of his recruiting process.
Jackson said he saw assistant coaches from LSU, Alabama, Michigan, Nebraska, Texas and Tennessee during spring practice. The Tigers had previously offered a scholarship last Thanksgiving, but with first-year head coach Brian Kelly taking over in December, Jackson was on campus for his first unofficial visit Jan. 22 and started developing relationships with safeties coach Kerry Cooks and area recruiter Joe Sloan.
“I love the new staff,” Jackson said. “They show love and hit me up every day or they call coach Brew (Brewerton) once a week. They show a lot of love with coach Cooks and coach Sloan. I like it. It feels like home. I love the atmosphere. I love everything about it.”
Texas A&M has generated similar feelings. That’s why Jackson remains uncommitted and has taken a more methodical approach with the NCAA’s early signing period still five months away Dec. 15.
“There were a lot of people here to see him in the spring,” Brewerton. “I lot of them wanted to see how tall he is in person. He’s legit 6-2 and is long, rangy and really athletic. They were happy to see that and that took his recruiting to another level. He has the athleticism, ball skills and runs really well. He makes a lot of tackles for us and really fills the alley well from the safety spot. “
Jackson doesn’t admit to currently having a favorite team in the recruiting process but leaves no doubt about the players he tries to emulate.
Former LSU standouts Jamal Adams of the Seattle Seahawks and Tyrann Mathieu of the New Orleans Saints have both carved out a path to being among the best safeties in the NFL, earning the distinction of being selected All-Pro or to the Pro Bowl team.
Both have impacted the style and aggressive nature Jackson plays with.
“I love those two players. I love their physicality. I love the way they play the game. I never thought I would be in this situation. When you work, this is the outcome.”