Dedication, willingness to learn exemplify Warren Jackson’s potential

Eddie Herz

A culture has been built at Colorado State of developing wide receivers into NFL-caliber players, a trend that has encompassed the past few seasons.

Rashard Higgins amassed over 3,000 receiving yards and 31 touchdowns in three seasons with the Rams before being selected by the Cleveland Browns in the 2016 NFL draft. Fellow Rams’ alum Michael Gallup was also picked by the Dallas Cowboys in the third round of the most recent NFL Draft after nearly reaching 2,000 receiving yards in two collegiate seasons.

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But, there is a player who has flown under-the-radar who may have the brightest future of them all, Higgins and Gallup included. Sophomore receiver Warren Jackson.

“I think (Jackson has) a chance to be one of the all-time best receivers ever to play here,” Coach Mike Bobo said. “This guy is 6’6″, has really good speed (and) has really good body control. I’m very, very impressed with him.”

Jackson catching a ball
Freshman Warren Jackson (9) makes a grab over an Air Force defender during the first half of the Rams’ 28-45 loss to the Falcons. (Javon Harris | Collegian)

Though Jackson was a three-star recruit coming out of high school with offers from programs like the University Arizona, University of Colorado and the University of Wyoming, he has been overshadowed by other receivers during the early stages of his career.

The potential was seen early for the wideout despite his spot in the background. 

“When he first got here honestly he was still getting used to his body but you could tell he had a ton of potential,” redshirt sophomore quarterback Collin Hill said. “The thing that stood out to me was he was always asking me if he was running this route right, was he doing that right, how are we supposed to do that. He worked at it a ton to get where he is.”

Given the receiver’s size and skill set, he could be a top target at many other programs despite only being a sophomore. Being the third option this season is not something that bothers Jackson though.

Jackson has had the luxury of playing with and learning from some of the best receivers in program history.

“It feels pretty good knowing that those guys can always teach you a lot,” Jackson said. “Mike (Gallup) taught me a lot. I’ve gotten a few pointers from (Olabisi Johnson) and Preston (Williams). All of the looks and information I can gather going on to grow as a receiver has really helped from those guys.”

Bobo mentioned in fall camp how Jackson can be the best receiver in Rams’ history if he worked hard enough.

Man Catches ball
#9 Warren Jackson as he makes a catch during practice. (Collegian | Devin Cornelius)

Jackson has been described as a player who possessed maturity similar to an upperclassman even as a first-year player. The receiver’s work ethic has also received commendation since the early-going. 

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Bobo is not the only one who has relished Jackson’s vast improvements.

“The dude has grown a lot,” Johnson said. “He came with a lot of maturity and then this year I’ve seen him crisp up his routes and things like that. I can see his confidence on the field and it’s good to see from a young guy like that because he still has two more years after this.”

Jackson has only caught the ball 10 times so far this season. Besides battling for targets with Johnson and Williams, the lack of production is partly a result of a minor knee injury that temporarily slowed Jackson.

The receiver sat out three-consecutive games for the Rams before totaling 44 yards and two touchdowns on four receptions against San Jose State last week, all of which came in the first half.

“It felt pretty good but there are always a couple things you can do better on,” Jackson said. “It just motivates me to want to work a lot harder. Coach (Bobo) talks about potential. I’m just working to live up to those expectations.”

The sophomore receiver appears to be fully recovered from his injury, giving him more than enough time to keep improving before the season is over.

Eddie Herz can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @Eddie_Herz