The fashion in which Donovan Jackson found out he had been nominated for the All-American Bowl’s Man of the Year award was indicative of how news travels in 2020.
First, he found out via your favorite Eleven Warriors recruiting writer, had no idea what that certain writer was talking about, and then he had it confirmed via Twitter. So it was a tiny, mini whirlwind on Wednesday night.
“I was really thrown back, like, ‘What’s he talking about?’” Jackson said. “But it’s an honor even being nominated. I try to present myself as a role model and as a young man in the way my parents raised me off the field. So to be recognized for it is a pretty big deal for me.”
As for his parents, they were just as happily surprised.
“My mom didn’t believe it. She was like, ‘You don’t even make your bed,’” Jackson said with a laugh. “They were proud of me. They were like, ‘Oh, that’s my boy,’ and all that. It’s a pretty cool thing to enjoy with my family.”
All-American Bowls @GEICO Man of the Year Finalists— All-American Bowl (@AABonNBC) December 24, 2020
- @connorable19 (Houston, TX)
- @D_jack78 (Bellaire, TX)
- @ezraoyetade (Garland, TX)
- @jahvaree (Kernersville, NC)
- @ty_thompson7 (Gilbert, AZ)
- @CALEBcsw (Washington, D.C.)#AAB21 #AllAmericanBowl pic.twitter.com/p1cBOpKJlm
According to the All-American Bowl, the nominees for the Man of the Year award “epitomize a high standard of excellence in community service and athletic distinction.”
Jackson earned his nomination in large part because of his work with the Challenger football program in the Houston area, a program that works with kids who have special needs.
“The kids come to the high school, we give them jerseys and equipment and make them a part of the team,” Jackson said. “We basically go through competitions and throw the ball with them. The cheerleaders come out and do face paintings.
“It’s one of those days that you circle on the calendar every year for (Episcopal High School) football. It’s a really cool event where all the kids come out and you throw the football with them and score some touchdowns. It’s a pretty cool thing we throw every year.”
The senior was also nominated for his work with food banks in the Houston area that helps provide food for low-income households and Meals on Wheels.
“I started doing (the food banks) when I was really young with AAU teams and even doing it on my intuition,” Jackson said. “I like what it’s going towards, and I like doing it with my family. We make it a competition to see who can bag the most food. It’s usually me or my sister who wins.
“We’ve also done Meals on Wheels, which is the same concept as the food bank where we bag and make lunches. A bus goes around the different neighborhoods and gives lunch to all the kids in the neighborhood. I did that as part of football, too, but the food bank is just a wider range.”
“My mom didn’t believe it. She was like, ‘You don’t even make your bed.’ They were proud of me. They were like, ‘Oh, that’s my boy,’ and all that. It’s a pretty cool thing to enjoy with my family.”– donovan jackson on man of the year nomination
Jackson is pitted against five other high school All-Americans for the Man of the Year honor in uncommitted long snapper Connor Able, Ezra Dotson-Oyetade (Arizona State commit), Jahvaree Ritzie (North Carolina signee), Ty Thompson (Oregon signee) and Caleb Williams (Oklahoma signee). The winner will be announced on January 2 during a special two-hour “All-American Bowl: Declaration Day” shown on NBC.
If he wins, Jackson will become the third consecutive Ohio State signee to win the award, following in the footsteps of Garrett Wilson (2019) and Paris Johnson Jr. (2020) from the past two classes (in addition to joining 2020 signee Kourt Williams and 2019 signees Harry Miller and Zach Harrison as recent nominees for the award).
“It’s a lot of pressure,” Jackson said. “That’d be a pretty major thing. That’s probably the biggest award in the All-American Bowl series so it’d be an honor to win it if I could.”
Jackson is also nominated for the All-American Bowl’s Anthony Muñoz Lineman of the Year award, which was also won by Johnson last year.
Jackson conducted his interview with us on Sunday morning, just shortly after he had gotten back home from a workout. As we talked about a couple weeks ago, Jackson is not enrolling early at Ohio State but told us that he was planning on following Mickey Marotti’s workout program to a T before he gets to Columbus in June.
On Sunday, he had just concluded one of those workouts that Marotti and the Buckeyes’ strength and conditioning staff had given to him and the other five non-early enrollees.
A typical week, thus far, looks like this:
- Mondays – Chest/Arms
- Tuesdays – Cardio/Conditioning
- Wednesdays – Legs
- Thursdays – Elliptical/Bike/More intense conditioning
- Fridays – Explosive leg workouts/Mix of bi’s/tri’s
- Weekends – Whatever the player chooses to work out those days
“When we all signed, they sent us a giant signee book with 12 weeks’ worth of workouts, so I’m just doing that now,” Jackson said. “It’s reasonable. I feel like the workout is what you make it, but it’s a pretty good workout plan. It hits every part of the body and works out muscles I haven’t worked out in a long time.”
Jackson says that no specific plan has been detailed to him by the Buckeye coaching staff for what the blueprint is for him body- and weight-wise for when he joins the program in the summer. He says that when the June move-in date gets closer that those conversations will take place, so for now he wants to maintain what he has now and come in ready to get molded into a college lineman from the jump.
“I wanna come in at a good weight to where they don’t have to tear fat off me and build me back up,” Jackson said. “I wanna go right into building me up.”
When asked what type of legacy Jackson wants to leave at Ohio State, the offensive lineman spoke like, well, a true offensive lineman.
“When people think of Donovan Jackson, I want them to think of me giving 100 percent in everything I did, whether it was giving to the community or in sports or in the classroom,” Jackson said. “That’s what I really wanna leave behind is that thought that, ‘Oh, that’s Donovan Jackson. He’ll give his all for anything.’”
Header photo: Donovan Jackson – 247Sports