Perspective. It can be a difficult concept to grasp at the age of 21, but it’s one Portland State University wide receiver Antonio Jackson has hold of as tightly as a well-thrown spiral. The junior, starting opposite Terry Charles, is in one of the Big Sky Conference’s most talented tandems at that position, and Jackson is careful to praise those around him in accounting for his play.
“I was fortunate to learn from (former Viking) Orshawante Bryant and Terry Charles. Just seeing the work ethic of those guys motivates me to put in the extra time before and after practice, and in my preparation,” Jackson said.
Certainly the work has paid off. The 6-foot, 180-pound Jackson has good football speed and a knack for making himself open downfield. His hands are solid. He displays an athleticism that would just as easily allow him to take a defender off the dribble as go over the middle in a short yardage situation, a circumstance that played out his freshman year at PSU when he participated in both football and basketball. He caught 24 passes as the third wide receiver in head coach Tim Walsh’s pro-set offense in 2000 and has caught 14 through four games thus far this season.
The clearest measure of Jackson’s character, however, lies in his vision for a future outside of football.
“I’d like to work closely with the community when I’m through at PSU,” Jackson said. “The ultimate goal would be to work at a recreation center with kids from the community.”
A graduate of David Douglas High School in southeast Portland, Jackson has made strides to become a leader on the PSU campus. The president of his fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi, Jackson believes in a philosophy of leading by example, a quality he carries onto the field in workouts and games.
“I used to be pretty shy,” Jackson said while flashing a disarming smile that would speak to the contrary, “but I’m trying to work on my communication and leadership skills. I try to be a role model, for my cousins and the kids that look up to me, and also on the field.”
PSU receivers coach Erich Walcha commends the young man. “Antonio is a very consistent, very coachable player. He comes to practice every day knowing what’s expected of him and he takes care of business,” Walcha said.
Jackson’s personal and athletic goals are characteristically modest and self-depreciating. He also credits his personal qualities to his parents.
“My parents always made sacrifices in providing me with support,” Jackson said. “My father has worked hard over the years, working in floor-covering, to be there for me. And my mom has been the same way. They’ve both been an inspiration.”
Dan Wood, Jackson’s high school coach, echoes that sentiment.
“Annie and Anthony Jackson are just super people, and folks who’ve done a great job in raising a fine young man,” Wood said.
Wood uses terms such as motivated, coachable, intelligent and leader in his description of Jackson.
“Antonio is one of the top two players I’ve ever coached, in terms of his level of consistency. He is extremely motivated to be the best he can be on a daily basis,” Wood said. “He is a student of the game, and I can’t say enough about the young man’s work ethic.”
While Jackson’s 18-plus yards-per-catch average speaks to his abilities on the field, it’s his commitment to a future in helping others that distinguishes him as a person.
“When I’m done playing football, I’ll look back on my career and be happy with the things I’ve done. But I’m looking forward to a future outside of football also,” the business administration major concluded.
“Antonio has a great perspective on what we are trying to accomplish here, and in the things he does outside of football. He is involved with his fraternity and is a good student,” Walcha said. “Every day we work hard at getting our goal of winning the championship accomplished, and Antonio is a big part of that.”