Ohio State received a commitment just over a week ago from Donovan Jackson, a 2021 four-star offensive guard out of Bellaire, Texas. Jackson joined fellow four-star offensive lineman Ben Christman in Ohio State's star-studded junior recruiting class.
At 6-foot-4 and 305 pounds, Jackson looks like the Buckeyes' left guard of the future. He has everything coaches want in a potentially elite offensive lineman.
Specifically for this film study, we will look at three key abilities that make Jackson so special: a nasty mean streak, finishing power and great athleticism.
Nasty mean streak
Offensive linemen are asked to line up across from a giant defensive lineman for 60 or more plays a game, which means that in the trenches, there is very little room to play nice. When evaluating all of the best offensive linemen in modern-day football, it is easy to see the mean edge that they play with. Donovan Jackson has that edge and then some.
Here are four plays from Donovan Jackson's junior film that show exactly the mean streak we are talking about:
- Play one: Lined up at left tackle, Jackson is tasked with getting up to the outside linebacker so that the running back can run behind him. Not only does Jackson get to the linebacker, he locks on to the backer and within a few steps, he has his opponent on his back in the dirt.
- Play two: Again lined up at left tackle, Jackson has a one-on-one blocking assignment with the defensive end. Jackson locks on with his initial punch and within four to five steps, he has his defender on the turf.
- Play three: Lined up at left guard, Jackson must first double team with his tackle on the down lineman, and needs only one left hand to knock his opponent back three yards. After the quick double, Jackson locks onto the linebacker, redirects him and just like previous plays, puts the defender in the dirt.
A nasty mean streak is not a technical term and there is no way to teach it; you either have it or you don’t. Luckily for Ohio State, Jackson has a very nasty mean streak that he unleashes on defenses when he steps between the white lines.
Finishing with power
By nature and necessity, offensive linemen are some of the most powerful players on the field. Jackson definitely fits that bill, possessing the power and strength to consistently put opposing defenders into the ground. He will continue to add strength to his game when he gets to Ohio State, but he already has the power he needs to be an elite offensive lineman, and he uses that power very well in his game.
The following three plays from Jackson's junior highlights put his power on full display.
- Play one: Lined up at left tackle, Jackson is told to bypass the end because he is the read man, so he goes to the linebacker. He gives the linebacker one punch to the chest and knocks him to the ground.
- Play two: Lined up at left tackle, Jackson knocks the defensive tackle off-balance with his right hand, then moves downfield to block a linebacker, who he drives 10 yards before taking him to the turf.
- Play three: Lined up at left tackle in a key situation down on the goal line, Jackson plays this perfectly, timing his punch right with the blitzing linebacker that he stuns to the turf while his running back follows directly behind him.
It is crucial for an offensive lineman to use his power in two ways: on his punch and on his finish. Jackson puts so much power in his initial punch that his initial hit is often his finish, too. That power should only improve once he gets into Mickey Marotti's strength program at Ohio State.
Not all offensive linemen have elite athleticism, but the majority of the best offensive linemen are very talented athletes. For an offensive lineman, athleticism is not about 40 times or 3 cone drills; instead, it is about moving in space. For Donovan Jackson, moving in space comes with ease, as he gets to the second level quickly and is very good at screen blocking.
The next three plays highlight Jackson's elite athleticism for an offensive lineman.
- Play one: Lined up at left tackle, Jackson is used as a pulling tackle on this play, where he is asked to go from his left tackle to spot to outside the right tackle. He pulls perfectly, delivering a knock out punch to the defensive end. He then puts another defender in the ground that tries to come up for a tackle.
- Play two: Lined up at left tackle, Jackson sells his pass set then goes out to lead block for a running back screen. He locks onto his man while running down the field and eventually runs this defender to the sideline.
- Play three: Lined up at left tackle, Jackson is the outside blocker on a sweep run play where the running back follows off his back. He takes the man that he is responsible for out of the play onto the sideline while the running back breaks free.
It is not often that offensive linemen are this athletic, which is why Ryan Day and the Ohio State coaching staff made Donovan Jackson a priority. With athletes like Paris Johnson, Luke Wypler, Ben Christman and now Jackson entering Ohio State's offensive line room, the slobs will be loaded with talent for years to come.