Photo courtesy of Northern Colorado University Athletic Department Head and Shoulders Above the Rest UNC's Jackson Might be the Top Offensive Sleeper for 2005 [font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif] When projecting small school prospects to the NFL level there is one thing they absolutely must have going for them.[/font] [font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif] What is it? [/font] [font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif] Size? Speed? Versatility? Work ethic?[/font] [font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif] Nope. [/font] [font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif] Actually, all of those help, of course, but while each of these intangibles helps a prospect make an NFL roster, the player first has to get the attention of NFL scouts. [/font] [font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif] And to do that, one has to dominate. [/font] [font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif] Which is exactly what Northern Colorado wide receiver, Vincent Jackson has been doing for the past two seasons. [/font] [font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif] "I haven't faced a player at this level yet that I thought could match up with me in terms of size and athletic ability," Jackson says. [/font] [font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif] Don't take his comments as being brash or arrogant. Quite the contrary, Jackson is a humble, soft-spoken young man - one who the numbers say is speaking the truth. [/font] [font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif] Listed by the school media guide as a 6'6, 235 pound receiver with 4.5 speed, Jackson broke seven offensive records in 2003 for the Northern Colorado Bears - a club that many would be surprised to know boasts six former players currently in the NFL (Anthony Dunn, Dirk Johnson, Andrew Martin, Adam Matthews, [/font]Brad Pyatt, and Aaron Smith). Among those records - the single season touchdown reception record (21), the career touchdown reception record (26), single season receiving yardage record (1,462) and the single season all-purpose record (1,949). And he isn't done yet. Just this season, he broke the Bears' single game records for most receptions (15) and most all-purpose yardage (349). While his streak of eleven consecutive games with a touchdown was broken early this season, Jackson does boast nine games over his career with multiple touchdowns, thirteen games over his career with over 100 yards receiving, and five games with over 200 yards. Jackson also has four career punt and kick returns for touchdowns and has remained among the league leaders as a return man (11.6 for punts, 24.9 for kicks) throughout his career. All of the records and awards are even more impressive when you consider that Jackson never tried out for football until the 8th grade. And that only two schools recruited him to play football: Northern Colorado and Colorado School of Mines. And that he started only one game for the Bears until his junior season. And that he decided to walk on to the UNC basketball game last season as a way to keep in shape and have fun in the off-season. And despite missing the first four games of their season, he still led the team in both scoring (13.6) and assists (3.1) and finished second in rebounds (5.6) and fourth in steals (24 on the season), earning 2nd team D-I All-Independent honors. In short, Jackson has dominated. And people are beginning to take notice. Listed among my Diamonds in the Rough since last year, Jackson has begun to receive nationwide attention this season - both in the press and by in scouting circles. Already featured by USA Today and as an ESPN chat guest, NFL scouts will soon get their chance, as Jackson has already accepted invitations to play in both the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl. "I've been invited to some of the other games," Jackson told us, "but the two I'm interested in are the Senior Bowl and Shrine Game. I'd definitely be interested in playing in both games." Jackson realizes that the level of competition in these contests would be different than what he is used to, and that the NFL will bring even stiffer challenges. "I'm sure I'll meet players at the next level you have the athleticism or physicality to match up with me. But that is where you have to rely on your route-running and aggressiveness towards the ball. Some corners might be as fast or as quick as me, but I can still jump over most of those guys." The biggest concern besides Jackson's relatively low level of competition, of course, is just where to play him. While most teams polled seemed confident that Jackson's best chance at NFL success was at receiver, others felt his lack of pure downfield speed could pose problems. While BLESTO Scouting Service ranked Jackson as a tight end, National Scouting ranked him as a wide receiver. Jackson, on the other hand, remains unfazed. "I think I could be successful as a tight end. Obviously, I have to add some weight and polish up my blocking, but I think I could be a Tony Gonzalez-type threat down the middle of the field. I've never played tight end before and it would be weird, but if the coaches asked me to do it, I'd try it." "I just first would tell them to watch me play receiver before automatically assuming I'm too big and slow for the position. I've got more agility and athleticism than people give me credit for..." Perhaps not. "The kid is definitely one to watch," one NFC scout told us. "The comparisons to [Randy] Moss are off, but he looks like every bit the talent that Teyo Johnson was a couple of years ago and Johnson went in the 2nd round. We'll see how he runs, but this kid looks quicker than Johnson, too. I'm looking forward to seeing him against the big boys this winter." Standing head and shoulders above his current competition, it will prove quite interesting just how tall Jackson does loom when placed amongst the D-I "big boys" in the Shrine Game and Senior Bowl. Quite interesting, indeed.