GLENVILLE - Senior Mark Jackson is on a mission.
The two-time first team all-West Virginia Conference left tackle from Glenville State College has a clear vision of what he wants to accomplish. First and foremost is helping his team to a WVIAC championship and then hopefully getting a shot to play in the National Football League.
A sports management major who hopes to graduate this spring, Jackson stayed in Gilmer County for pretty much the entire summer to work on his technique.
Photo by Jay W. Bennett
Glenville State College left tackle Mark Jackson is entering his final year for the Pioneers. The Pioneers open their 2012 campaigan on the road against Carson-Newman Thursday.
"I was thinking about going back home. I just wanted to stay here and dedicate myself to constantly training on football and in the weightroom," said Jackson, who originally went to Illinois out of high school and then spent a year at the College of Dupage.
"I've done a lot of things to better myself and to work on what people think I need to work on. I need to play a little lower. I've been working on my agility and conditioning and on different drills to keep my knees bent."
Glenville State opens its season on the road Thursday when the G-men head to Tennessee to take on Carson-Newman.
Needless to say, Jackson wasn't too impressed by the fact the Pioneers were picked sixth in the preseason WVIAC poll conducted by league coaches.
"That's fine," he said. "I like being the underdog. We have a problem with that. We like to shock the world and we'll definitely be working hard.
"We are going to go out every game competing and we're going to shock everybody. We definitely like being the underdog."
A 5-6 campaign last year didn't sit well with the Pioneers and they plan on changing that this season. Jackson knows the entire team has to come together and be ready to get conquer the tough times which inevitably will lie ahead.
"We have to take everything a play at a time and a game at a time. There's going to be adversity," he said. "We are going to have to over come that, stay together and play as a team. That's the main thing.
"If we do lose, we have to move on to the next game. We've got to get focused for that. If we come together and play as a team we are going to be pretty good this year. We are young, but we got some great talent."
Not quite 6-foot-6 inches tall, Jackson knows if he's going to play football somewhere on the next level it's going to be on the offensive line. However, one thing Jackson always will have in his memory is the game against W.Va. State back in 2010.
"I got good hands," Jackson noted. "I've been doing tackle eligible plays since I was like 6 and against West Virginia State I scored (14-yard touchdown catch) on a tackle throwback screen.
"I've been trying to achieve my goal of getting to the NFL since I was a young boy. It's definitely one of my major goals. Glenville is a tiny school and a tiny town, but I'm completely satisfied here and I wouldn't take it back for anything."