Michigan State WR Trishton Jackson takes lessons from ‘big brother’ R.J. Shelton, tries to fill void he left

Trishton Jackson Michigan State

Michigan State fans’ expectations of sophomore Trishton Jackson began to skyrocket after his standout performance in the Green-White spring game on April 1, when he caught 8 balls for 168 yards.

They were late to the Jackson fan club. Among his teammates, Jackson’s stature began to elevate five months earlier. November truly proved to be the month that the Spartans, and even Jackson himself, recognized his talent.

A freshman with five games under his belt, Jackson had 22 receiving yards and minus-1 rushing yards at that point. He had, and still has, plenty to learn about the position, having played quarterback for most of his West Bloomfield (Mich.) days.

He got his shot against Rutgers on Nov. 12, as did six other freshmen in the 49-0 thrashing of the Scarlet Knights. And he took it, reeling in a 50-yard grab from quarterback Tyler O’Connor for the first touchdown of his career.

“Trishton is an exciting player,” Coach Mark Dantonio said after the game. “He’s a guy that’s been playing a little bit, but he’s got to transition to start playing more and more as guys go, but he plays behind R.J. [Shelton], so it’s hard to get him in there sometimes.”

And that might have been the best situation for him. Jackson calls Shelton, who led Michigan State receivers in catches, yards and touchdowns last year, his “big brother.” They still talk regularly, even as Shelton fights to maintain his roster spot with the Minnesota Vikings.

As November drew to a close, the Michigan State players got a short Thanksgiving break before their Nov. 26 finale at Penn State. Some chose to go home. Not Jackson. He didn’t want to make the trip, even though it would’ve taken only an hour. He went to Shelton’s place, where they bonded through watching film and studying other receivers.

Look me in my eyes you see the demon in me👿

A post shared by 98' Trishton Jackson (@toogie_2) on

“He told me that I’m good,” Jackson said of Shelton. “I didn’t see it in myself, and now I do because I trust him. I thank him for that.”

So after another disappointing loss marked the end of Shelton’s time at Michigan State, Jackson knew it would be his job to fill the void. He would catch balls from the quarterbacks at the indoor facility, watch film with them and hit the weight room with them as they looked to build chemistry for 2017.

The weight room plays a massive part in Jackson’s progression, as he still stands a relatively slim 6-foot-1 and 179 pounds. And as he puts on the pounds, the coaches keeping pushing him to get more physical.

“He’s got to get tougher, so we can print that,” Dantonio said after praising him at the spring game. “That’s what I’m always telling him: ‘You’ve got to get tougher.’ But he can play. He has a very unique skill set.”

Added wide receivers coach Terrence Samuel in early August, “I think there’s times where being aggressive, going after balls, the 50-50s, those are all things that he can get better at. It’s not just blocking. It’s running with the ball. But that’s with everybody. I’m steady trying to increase their knowledge on how to get the most out of each play.”

            Jackson Michigan State
Trishton Jackson makes a grab during practice Monday. (Luke Srodulski/Land of 10)

And Jackson has higher expectations of himself than anybody. He has made a goal of 12 touchdown receptions for 2017, which would tie him for third in the Michigan State record books. Only Charles Rogers, whose film he has studied, would be above him.

Why not aim high? Though just a 19-year-old sophomore, he already acts like a veteran. He gives tips to freshman receiver Hunter Rison, even though back in their high school days it was Rison who gave the advice to Jackson as he transitioned to the position. Taking to the role of leader has been easy, he said, because the Spartans have young players who listen.

“Like I said,” Jackson reiterated, “it’s gonna be a fun season this year.”

The post Michigan State WR Trishton Jackson takes lessons from ‘big brother’ R.J. Shelton, tries to fill void he left appeared first on Land of 10.

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