Renada Jackson sees it all the time when she’s around Clayton with the oldest of her four children.
Her “baby,” Savion Jackson, has turned into somewhat of a local celebrity, and the 6-3, 260-pound N.C. State football commit is pretty hard to miss. Renada Jackson says when the two of them are out she’ll see people nudge each other and she hears chatter and can feel strangers’ eyes on them.
“People may not say anything, but they will point and whisper,” she said. “Or some will come up and ask how the season is going, or say ‘I can’t wait to see you at N.C. State.’”
Savion has turned into a big deal in the Johnston County town of Clayton, which has a population of 16,116. The four-star defensive lineman from Clayton High School in June committed to Dave Doeren and N.C. State.
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On. Oct. 21, he was named to the North Carolina roster for the 2018 Shrine Bowl of the Carolina’s game, and on Thursday he received what he called his biggest honor to date - the jersey he’ll wear in the Under Armour All-American game on Jan. 3 in Orlando, Fla.
A banner with former players of the annual all-star game, including Julio Jones, Dalvin Cook, A.J. Green and Leonard Fournette, hung behind Savion as he accepted his jersey.
Hunter Jenks, the Comets’ football coach, said he can’t think of a better ambassador for his football program or the town of Clayton.
“Anyone who meets him knows his character,” Jenks said. “He’s got such an infectious personality and people love to be around him. His coaches down there are going to see what a quality of a person he is and he is going to succeed down there.”
Jackson is one of 100 players chosen to play in the All-American game, which is usually led by former NFL players or coaches. While many of the players typically come from football-rich states like Florida, California and Texas, Jackson will carry the torch for not only the state of North Carolina, but also for Clayton. That’s something Renada says Savion has been doing for a while now.
“He can’t go anywhere without that Clayton C,” Renada said. “He’ll have on a N.C. State shirt and Clayton shorts. He’s going to represent that C. I’ve seen him on visits doing interviews with that Clayton shirt on. He’s very proud to be kind of the face of the program.”
Jenks said the attention players like N.C. State freshman Devin Carter, Virginia Tech commit J.R. Walker and Savion have brought to the school’s football program has opened doors for so many other athletes. At any given time during their spring workouts, Jenks could look up and there might be five college coaches watching them practice, and that attention has given other players college opportunities.
Savion wants to leave a legacy at Clayton High, and he hopes this recent honor paves the way for players coming after him.
“It just shows the next younger person can do it also,” Savion said. “It just takes hard work and dedication. I love showing up for my town.”
Renada was brought to tears just thinking about how proud she was of Savion, who she still referred to as her little boy, even though he has the frame of an athlete who has already been in a college weight program. Renada said there is much more to come for her son, but also realizes it’s important to point out the example he has set so far with all of his accomplishments.
“To show other guys your dreams can come true, it’s very important to me and him that he’s to be that example to some other guys,” Renada said. “I can’t even tell you how many tears of joy I’ve cried. Just for him to defy the odds that’s been against him, the single parent home and stuff like that, the odds are always against you. We always talked in the home to defy those odds. We are excited for where we are and where we are going to go.”