To Minneapolis North senior Jamire Jackson, the Polars’ 2016 state football title meant something beyond being the best team in Class A and the first Minneapolis public school to win a state football title in almost 40 years.
Jackson’s father Tony died in January 2014 after he contracted pneumonia following a surgical procedure. It was devastating to a freshman boy whose father was an integral part of his involvement with athletics.
When the final seconds ran off the U.S. Bank Stadium clock in Prep Bowl XXXV, Jackson said he felt an unbelievable sense of accomplishment.
“I know my father was watching,” Jackson said via email. “Everything I did on that field was for him, so I know he's pretty proud of me.”
Jackson’s personal tribulations after his father’s death were chronicled in the Minneapolis Star Tribune last fall. He told NFN that people would be shocked to believe how much his attitude — both on and off the field — has changed since first playing varsity football in 2013.
“I was one of those kids who was not easy to talk to, who always had something to say back,” Jackson said. “As time passed, I began to be more of a sponge and was able to soak stuff up and listen.”
Jackson also competes in basketball and baseball for the Polars and was a reserve on the school’s 2015-16 state basketball title. North football coach Charles Adams said Jackson leaned on his coaches in every sport for support following his father’s death.
“His relationship with coaches is tremendous. He embraces his coaches like they’re father figures,” Adams said.
Jackson was a physical presence for North the past three seasons, playing offensive line and middle linebacker. He led the team in tackles every year and recorded 84 tackles last fall, with four interceptions.
The 6-foot-1, 220-pound force was a big reason why North allowed only 11.4 points per game last season.
“He’s just a kid that never wants to let anyone down,” Adams said. “He’s determined to be successful, and it carries over to physical, aggressive play on the field.”
Jackson was ranked No. 48 in NFN’s final Class of 2017 prospect rankings. He earned multiple postseason accolades including Twin City Blue All-District and Star Tribune First Team All-Metro. He was also named Associated Press First Team All-State at linebacker.
He’s been in contact with a handful of FCS schools throughout his recruitment, but was never offered a scholarship, partially because of a low ACT score.
He acknowledged his academic standing might force him to attend junior college before beginning a Division I or Division II career. He said a few JUCOs have been communicating with him, and that Garden City Community College in Kansas was a potential destination.
“I am working pretty hard to increase that [ACT score], so I can be blessed with an athletic scholarship,” said Jackson, who is involved with summer camps and church activities in the community. “Academically, I will bring my dedication to college.”
Jackson said he wants a college program where he will fit in and feel comfortable. He said he’s a “huge fan” of North Dakota State because of the coaching staff and the “amazing” atmosphere in Fargo.
He also said he wants to focus academically in sports medicine and help “athletes at all levels of competition” in some fashion after his career ends.