North/West Xtra: A two-school, two-sport star


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How would football prospect Dane Jackson describe himself? He simply says he's a "playmaker."

"I'm not cocky or arrogant. I just like to have the ball in my hands," said Jackson. "I like to make things happen."

Jackson, a rising senior at Cornell High School, is one of the area's Division I prospects. At 6 feet 1, 170 pounds, Jackson is a duel threat when he laces up his cleats and hits the football field.

Jackson's situation is a bit unusual, however. Although he's a student at Cornell, where he plays basketball, he plays football for Quaker Valley High School.

Cornell is one of the smallest schools in the WPIAL and dropped its football program in 2011 due to a lack of numbers. Cornell students were then given the go-ahead to compete for Quaker Valley under a PIAA-approved cooperative agreement

Having Jackson come from Cornell to Quaker Valley to play football is a huge positive for Quakers coach John Tortorea's squad. Tortorea is thrilled to have a player such as Jackson on his team.

"As a football player, he's electric," Tortorea said. "He's an outstanding player who gives your team credibility. He's the best kept secret in Western Pennsylvania."

Maybe to outside recruiters Jackson's a bit of a secret, but Jackson's play as Quaker Valley's starting quarterback is sure to turn some heads.

Last season he led the team to an 8-3 record where he racked up more than 2,000 yards total offense (1,111 rushing and 975 passing) and was responsible for 23 touchdowns (10 rushing and 13 passing) in 11 games. He also contributed to the other side of the ball, playing defensive back.

With only one year left in high school, Jackson is looking toward the next chapter of his playing career. His next chapter, however, could see a transition from quarterback and defensive back to wide receiver.

That switch doesn't bother Jackson because he's seen time at wide receiver his freshman and sophomore years.

"[Making the switch] won't be difficult," Jackson said. "I played wide receiver freshman year and a little sophomore year. I just want to play. I just want to be on the field."

"Dane could play offensive tackle if he wanted," Tortorea said, chuckling. "He'll play where ever a coach wants him to play. That's how versatile he is."

Jackson has received multiple offers from schools such as Duquesne, Albany, Indiana State, Eastern Michigan and Bowling Green. But on Sunday, Jackson received an offer from the hometown school, Pitt. He officially committed to the Panthers Tuesday.

"I knew where I wanted to be," Jackson said. "I wanted to be close to home and close to my family."

Jackson recently showcased his skills at Pitt's first prospect camp. He worked as a receiver and defensive back.

"I believe I did well," Jackson said in regard to his performance at the camp.

According to Jackson, Pitt will be getting his absolute best.

"I make good decisions, I have good speed, I'm pretty physical and focused," he said.

Not only will the Panthers get a talented football player on the field, but a true gentleman off the field, Tortorea said.

"I don't even know if they use the term gentleman anymore," Tortorea said. "I tell his mom, 'You really raised a gentleman.' I never have an issue with him. He's very respectful and really a sweet kid."

Jackson will look to maintain his focus as he enters his senior year. One last season in a Quaker Valley jersey is just one more chance for him to prove his worth.

Ryan Petrovich: rpetrovich@post-gazette.com Twitter:@RyanPetrovich


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