Drake Jackson was another Kentucky native part of the 2016 class that spurned top-level programs to remain home and play for the Kentucky Wildcats.
Jackson was ranked the #2 center in the country, despite playing limited snaps at center at Woodford County High School. He had offers from the likes of Alabama, Florida, Ohio State, Penn State, South Carolina, Mississippi State, and Tennessee, but opted to stay home and play in Lexington.
Drake Jackson opening a huge hole for Sihiem King. pic.twitter.com/ZAqjWqJI3y— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) November 11, 2017
Measurements: 6’2”, 290 lbs.
Hometown: Versailles, Kentucky
School: Woodford County High School
Recruit Rankings: No. 2 Center in 2016
Jackson redshirted in 2016 after enrolling early, but really got his first chance to shine midway through last season when he took over full-time center duties for the last seven games of the season.
Prior to Jackson emerging as the team’s starting center, Kentucky struggled with inconsistent snaps and overall inconsistent offensive line play, some of which was expected after the departure of All-SEC center Jon Toth the year before.
But starting Jackson at center turned out to be what the offensive line needed as the group really meshed throughout the rest of the season and there was a significant decrease in erratic snaps.
As a team, the Wildcats rushed for 200 yards in four of their final seven games after Jackson took over at the center position. The Wildcats return their entire starting offensive line from last season, so that group should be even stronger this year with Jackson having more experience under his belt manning the middle of that line.
With Benny Snell at the running back position, Kentucky will likely have a ground-focused offensive attack this year. For Snell to show what he can do, it will begin first with the guys on the offensive line, particularly with Jackson.
Tight end CJ Conrad had some positive things to say about the offensive line group, including Jackson, at SEC Media Days.
“I think when we put Drake [Jackson] in the lineup, he was just more consistent with his snaps. If you remember early in the season last year, we had some snapping issues, but that whole group came together really good last year.”
Unfortunately, Landon Young is out for the year after suffering a knee injury, which puts even more pressure on Jackson to anchor this unit.
If Jackson and the offensive line can continue to build off their success later in the season last year and carry it over to this season, Kentucky should see quite a bit of success offensively.