Except for missing out on the chance to take his date to prom, the chance for Kearis Jackson to sign as an early enrollee brings nothing but an advantage.
The moment for the coveted four-star Peach County receiver to fax in his letter-of-intent was long awaited. It provides the opportunity for Jackson to arrive on campus in January as an early enrollee, get a head start on classes and begin acclimation to the playbook.
Unlike the prospects who are making decisions between schools, Jackson has been pledged to the program since Aug. 17. Therefore, the academic application and all other necessary paperwork was completed well in advance and the sole focus was on playing his final campaign for the Trojans.
But Wednesday morning opened a new chapter for the next Bulldog to emerge from the “478,” which also brings the need for an altered mentality.
“Everything is essential when you put the pen to the paper,” Jackson said. “All of the recruiting is gone, all of the stars are gone and everything you accomplished in high school is in the past. You’re now a part of Georgia football, and that serves as a great opportunity to sign early.”
A new beginning might have been needed for Jackson as his final high school days ended on a dull note -- having to deal with a temporarily-immobilizing injury which was suffered in the second round of the state playoffs.
Jackson fell on his wrist after a play and was unable to move it after trotting to the sideline at the conclusion of the drive.
He knew something was wrong and was taken to a Macon-area hospital. The medical team came to the conclusion after X-rays that there was no structural damage and that the injury was as simple as a sprained wrist.
As time went on, it became harder to believe that was the case.
“All throughout the night, I kept thinking sprain but I knew something more was wrong,” Jackson said. “My bones just didn’t feel right and I fell asleep in a lot of pain.”
The following day after Peach County’s 34-14 second-round victory, Jackson was one of many attendees at Georgia’s home finale against Kentucky. When he arrived at Sanford Stadium, the pain failed to go away and he told the Bulldogs’ coaching staff that he needed to see a group of doctors.
In turn, Jackson was taken to Piedmont Athens Regional for another X-ray, and then came a different verdict. The Trojans’ senior receiver was informed that his wrist had been dislocated, nerve issues became present which caused a lack of feeling in his fingers and ligaments had been torn.
Jackson had surgery the following Monday and has been seen sporting a sling-like splint at numerous recruiting functions since the procedure. The recovery process has been quick and Peach County nearly welcomed back its leading playmaker for the state championship against Calhoun -- which ended up being a disputed 10-6 defeat in which the Trojans could’ve used his talents.
The doctors determined that it would be unsafe for Jackson to return to action with such a short turnaround, but he will be ready when the workout program and practice periods begin at Georgia.
When Jackson does hit the field again, he will be re-joined by couple of close friends and Macon-area compatriots. Former Houston County teammates Jake Fromm and Trey Hill -- along with former Mary Persons’ standout Malik Herring -- will soon form a quartet of Middle Georgia athletes with rising expectations at the college level.
Jackson made it known that he wants to play alongside “great players” and the aforementioned group has shown potential to fit that moniker. Hill, the latest prospect to give his pledge to Georgia, had Auburn as a contender for his services, but Jackson and other recruits told him to “hop on board and stop playing games.”
Jackson is excited to work alongside Hill after seeing him as his rival throughout recent years.
“He was always that big guy and I knew that he was very good,” he said. “He was playing those recruiting games with Auburn and stuff, but I knew that Georgia was the place for him deep down inside. I went along with him and his recruitment stuff, but I knew he was coming to Georgia.”
Throughout recent weeks, Jackson has played the role of a recruiter and sees more success to come for the Bulldogs -- potentially holding the No. 2 national ranking by the end of the period.
“This thing is just getting started,” Jackson said. “Whoever was on the official visit this past weekend, I think all of those guys are going to come.”