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Jameon Gaskin: Running Behind His Pads

By Barry Every
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As a junior he led the team in tackles with 166 stops. He also added 11 TFL’s, eight QBH’s, two sacks, three PBU’s, two FR’s and one FF.

One of the most impressive performers last season for Robby Pruitt’s Douglas (Ga.) Coffee Trojans was inside linebacker Jameon Gaskin. As a junior he led the team in tackles with 166 stops. He also added 11 TFL’s, eight QBH’s, two sacks, three PBU’s, two FR’s and one FF. His herculean effort helped guide the 4-seed out of Region 1-AAAAAA all the way to the quarterfinals.

Despite his production on the football field, many college coaches feel that the 5-foot-10, 230-pounds backer is simply too short to play the position at the FBS level. At this time his lone offer comes from Lincoln University, a member of the Great Lakes Valley Conference which competes at the NCAA DII level.

What most college recruiters don’t realize is his deftness of dodging defenders, despite not running the rock on a regular basis since eighth grade. Through three games the senior has carried the ball 59 times for 382 yards and five touchdowns.

“I found out a week and a half prior our scrimmage versus Moultrie (Ga.) Colquitt County that I would be getting reps at running back,” Gaskin said. “Coach Johnson, the running back coach, said that they wanted to see what I could do at the position.  I hadn’t carried the ball since ninth grade, and that was just a few times before I was called up to varsity to play linebacker. I just told the coaches whatever the team needs, whatever will help us win. I was actually pretty excited about the opportunity though.”

What’s amazing about this feat is the fact that he still remains the starting inside linebacker for the Trojans. This is no easy task playing at the 6A level in Georgia. Gaskin has recorded 16 tackles, 5 PBU’s and returned an interception for a touchdown so far this season.

“He’s been looked at by several smaller schools as a linebacker,” Pruitt said. “Only one school has figured out that he is playing running back this season – MTSU. If he is looked at as a running back prospect he would have bigger schools inquiring about his services.”

Not only is Gaskin a beast on the gridiron, he is one of the strongest football players in Coffee history. He currently benches 325-pounds, squats 605-pounds and cleans 370-pounds. Gaskin owns four school weight lifting records, the front squat, back squat, clean and hang clean.

Gaskin also takes part in track where he participates in the 4x100-meter relay and throws the shotput. This past spring he finished eighth at the GHSA-AAAAAA State Championships with a throw of 49-foot-2.

In addition to all his physical assets, Gaskin is all but academically qualified. At this time he boasts a 3.2 core GPA with a 990 on the SAT. This should grab the attention of schools that require higher standards than the NCAA minimum.

This past spring he attended Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech, Kennesaw State, Mars Hill and Samford camps, but solely worked out at linebacker. He did put up impressive 40-times, running in the mid-4.6 range. Gaskin also made unofficial visits to Georgia Southern and Kennesaw State.

Schools that are still tracking his progress, but have yet to pull the trigger are Chattanooga, Mercer, MTSU and Samford. Again, MTSU is the only lone school that is aware of his exploits at running back.

“He has a lot of natural ability as a running back,” Pruitt said. “He could be an every down back, he is excellent at pass protection, has soft hands and can run inside or out. This is a good kid that comes from a good family. Gaskin has a ton of upside and can do things that coaches can’t teach.”

So what did he do for his opening performance at running back? Gaskin carried the ball 17 times for 152 yards and two scores in a convincing 35-20 win over Guyton (Ga.) Effingham County at the Erk Russell Classic.

“I don’t care what position I play at the next level, the position doesn’t matter, the education is what is first,” Gaskin said. “Whoever offers the best academics and financial aid package is all that matters to me. Right now I have to concentrate on being a leader and giving my all for teammates. All the other stuff will take care of itself, if I do my job and help my team win games.”

September, 1 means college coaches are allowed to hit the recruiting trail, visit high schools and more importantly attend games. Gaskin will get his opportunity to show off his talents as a ball carrier versus Tifton (Ga.) Tift County, Warner Robins (Ga.), Valdosta (Ga.), Warner Robins (Ga.) Northside and Leesburg (Ga.) Lee County. Quite a challenge, but one I’m sure he has dreamed of all his life.

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a high school running back run behind his pads with authority. Gaskin is a charging locomotive that will inflict damage on contact, leaving bodies strewn all over the tracks. One thing is for sure, the 230-pound Trojan beast can’t be a whole lot of fun to stop.