Canyon del Oro’s John Jackson played in the aftermath of the Ka’Deem Carey era and spent a season as teammates with Blake Martinez.
Carey became a two-time All-America running back at Arizona and is headed for the NFL draft while Martinez, a linebacker, is now a sophomore at Stanford.
Jackson wanted to be just like both of them and, someday, sign to play major-college football.
The defensive end signed a letter of intent with Wyoming on Wednesday morning, choosing the Cowboys over offers from San Diego State, New Mexico State, Montana State, North Dakota State, Northern Arizona and Portland State.
“It’s been my dream all of high school, so it’s great,” said Jackson, who spent three years at CDO after transferring from Tucson High. “Wyoming presented the best opportunity for me to succeed academically and athletically so that’s the decision I made.”
The 6-foot-4-inch, 255-pound Jackson was one of eight local players to sign with Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) programs on Wednesday.
Four others signed to play at Division I FCS (formerly Division I-AA) schools. More than 100 local athletes in all sports signed letters of intent to play at the next level.
Jackson isn’t the only local player headed to Laramie, Wyo., for college. Sidney Malauulu, a 6-foot-3-inch, 285-pound tackle from Sierra Vista Buena, also signed to play for Wyoming on Wednesday.
Wyoming underwent a major overhaul this offseason, firing coach Dave Christensen and hiring North Dakota State’s Craig Bohl. Bohl brought seven of his assistants from a program that has won the last three Division I FCS titles.
The Cowboys are members of the Mountain West Conference. Unlike many large programs, they take on big-name opponents in nonconference play. Jackson and Malauulu will play at both Oregon and Michigan State in the first five games of the upcoming football season.
CDO coach Dusty Peace said Jackson made a “mature decision” by picking Wyoming.
“It’s awesome for him to achieve this, and there’s no doubt that things like this happen because you’re part of good teams,” Peace said. “If you look at all the guys who are signing today, they’re all part of good programs and have good coaches.”
Everything went as expected on Wednesday. Tuesday night, however, was a different story.
Sabino offensive tackle Andrew Mike flipped his verbal commitment to Florida, just over 24 hours after he pledged to Vanderbilt. The Commodores had been his top pick all along until he took an official visit to Gainesville, Fla., less than two weeks ago. After sleeping on his original commitment, Mike said he couldn’t pass up a chance to call Ben Hill Griffin Stadium his home.
“There are very few places in the entire nation you can play that level of championship football and get the degree they have,” said Mike, a 6-foot-7-inch, 285-pound prospect. “It’s a great opportunity, and I’m grateful for it.
“I’m going to put everything I can into it.”
Mike was one of three Sabercats to sign with major programs. Matt Bushman, a 6-foot-5-inch, 220-pound tight end, signed to play both football and baseball at BYU; running back Alex Turner signed with Army.
“I’m just excited to be a part of that tradition they have going on up there,” said Bushman, who will take a two-year Mormon mission before enrolling at BYU.
Reigning state champion Salpointe Catholic held its signing ceremony Wednesday afternoon and did so with a late addition. Lineman Austin Weaver committed to Army early in the day, just 12 hours after being offered a scholarship by the Black Knights.
Five other Lancers will play at four-year schools next year: defensive back/wide receiver Cameron Denson (Arizona), running back/safety Jay Williams (Brown), linebacker Jake Casteel (Northern Arizona), quarterback Andrew Cota (Colorado Mesa) and wide receiver Robby Wilson (Adams State).
A seventh Lancer, wide receiver Kaelin Deboskie, verbally committed to the UA but has yet to sign.