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Seals, a former TU basketball player, coached Jackson for two seasons in hoops. Seals said Jackson created his own position.

“We called him a PPG,” Seals said. “The PPG is the power point guard because he was a point guard that had the savvy to run a ballclub and also the strength and size of a power forward, so he was very much an asset for us.”

Seals also said Jackson was fully committed to being the best person and player he could be, adding there was something “special” about the young man.

Coincidentally, TU football coach Bill Blankenship said during a pre-assembly interview: “I think the word special gets used too much. But Shawn is special.”

McLain basketball coach Cordell Love used the words “loyal” and “coachable” when describing Jackson, saying he’s a kid any coach would love to have.

John Phillips apparently agreed. Phillips coached Jackson at McLain after serving as TU’s basketball coach. Phillips urged the Golden Hurricane to look at Jackson as a football prospect, according to Blankenship.

When Blankenship attended one of Jackson’s high school basketball games, even the refs recommended Jackson to the football coach.

“You couldn’t find anybody who wasn’t a believer in Shawn Jackson,” Blankenship said.

Seals spoke as if Jackson wants to make belief contagious.

“He reaches out to the guys around him, the guys he grew up with and the kids that watched him, and they follow in his footsteps,” Seals said.

“The kids that come from (feeder schools) and go to McLain see that there is a way out and see that there are opportunities if you stay focused and stay on track.

“I think when they see one of their own come from the same background they come from and actually get a football scholarship or a scholarship to a Division I college and actually have a chance to play professionally, they see that and it gives them hope.”

Jackson said it can be difficult to grow up in his community, but the community made him tough.

“I put the tough with the smarts,” he said.

“You put the two together, and I did it in a positive way. I feel like a lot of other kids can do that. Instead of being … silly tough, be smart tough. There’s a difference.”

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