High school senior Ketron Jackson made headlines this past week when he announced he would play college football for Arkansas. In choosing the Hogs over other finalists like Texas, TCU, Baylor and Texas A&M, the Dallas area product becomes the Hogs’ highest-rated commit in the class of 2021.
While Jackson is excited to play for the Hogs starting next year, he’s also psyched to finish his career at Royce City in style. Last year, as a junior, Jackson finished with 61 catches for 889 yards, six touchdowns and more highlights than should be legal. The 6’2″, 190 pounder also averaged 14.6 yards per reception, while also toting the ball six times for 85 yards.
Over the summer, like practically every other athlete in America, Jackson got tired of the sameness in routine as 5A and 6A Texas schools finalized plans to start football later this fall.
“We’ve been doing the same summer workouts since the beginning of June,” Jackson said on the Buzz 103.7 FM. “It feels like it’s been too long since I’ve actually put on some pads to play a game.”
Fortunately, though, the wait is ending.
Today, Jackson’s Royce City squad (a 5A school) had his first full practice of the season. It’s scheduled to play its first game on September 26 — assuming Texas high school football makes it until then.
So far, so good. The smaller high school schools in Texas have already started their seasons, as originally planned, no news of super-spreading catastrophes yet.
Many athletic officials have confidence they can pull off an entire season because of successful workouts this summer in which the players exercised with masks and diligently practiced social distancing.
The Texas High School Coaches Associaton sent out a survey to 244 districts representing 65,290 athletes. The coaches said only four cases of COVID-19 were traced to their camps, with four students hospitalized and no deaths.
Ketron Jackson is confident that the season will occur as long as “they’re playing football with precaution, with masks and social distancing,” he said on a recent episode of “The Caged Hog.”
“Especially [because] they’re testing, and tests have been in our favor. There hasn’t been high [positive] test scores with COVID and stuff like that.”
Jackson discusses how the overwhelming majority of tests have been negative, which leads him to believe that the coronavirus pandemic may not be the existential threat some think it is.
“Honestly, to me, I think most of this stuff is made up. I don’t think all these people just really have COVID-19, because they came on the news one day and just said they announced 92-some cases, and most of them wasn’t even correct.”
It’s unclear what misinformation Jackson may be referring to here, but what is clear is that COVID-19 deaths and hospitalization numbers in Texas have been falling in the last couple months:
Source: Texas department of health
Some believe that there are issues with how Texas is reporting its data, too.
“The Texas data is exceptionally bad. It’s probably the worst data in the whole country,” said nationally syndicated columnist Phil Kerpen in a recent Fox News interview. “Their test positivity number is completely meaningless, as is their number of tests run per day. They have a system that was designed to process 40,000 tests a day. They’ve been running 100,000, so the backlog just keeps growing.”
“It’s very hard to see anything but this epidemic in the south being basically over,” added former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson.
While the exact severity of the COVID-19 pandemic remains very much in debate, its lethal nature overall should not be underestimated. It’s already proven to be much deadlier than the season flu, for instance, and still has the power to wipe out entire football seasons if overlooked or minimized.
It’s already delayed the following games this college football season:
NC State at Virginia Tech
Marshall at East Carolina
ULM at Troy
SMU at TCU
Tulsa at Oklahoma State
Temple at Navy
La Tech at Baylor
Rice at Marshall
UAB at Rice
Whether you’re Texan or Arkansan, Republican or Democrat, anti-vaxxer or not, a desire to celebrate football again this fall is common ground for us all.
Below is Jackson’s full interview on “The Caged Hog.”
For more on Ketron Jackson and why he chose Arkansas, see our latest: