Jarrod “Bam” Jackson returns to ESJ as assistant coach
RESERVE – Football has always been a safe haven for Jarrod “Bam” Jackson Jr. For two hours a day, his problems fade away and his focus is driven to the field.
Now a recent college graduate from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Jackson is returning to his roots and joining the assistant coaching staff at East St. John High School. Football is still in his blood, and he wants to teach young athletes at The E that the sport – and their school – can be their safe haven, too.
Jackson’s father was also a product of East St. John, and athletics seemed to run in the family.
“I’ve loved football my whole life. It’s really been a family sport to be honest,” Jackson said. “I’ve been playing football since I was about 8 years old. I’ve always been drawn to sports, period, but I was drawn to football because it came easy to me. I’ve literally played every position on the field.”
Jackson played on both sides of the ball from the time he joined recreational sports. Defensive line, offensive line and linebacker experience progressed to playing receiver, tight end and a little bit of safety in high school. A Renaissance Man on the field, Jackson has also filled the role of quarterback, running back, receiver and punter.
“I can relate to any position on the field, and I can coach every position on the field,” Jackson said.
For now, he is coaching Wildcats receivers alongside head Coach Brandon Brown. Reflecting on his time at East St. John, Jackson is drawn back to the River Parish rivalry game against Destrehan High School during his sophomore year.
“If I had to pick a highlight for my high school career, it might be that one game. Destrehan is a district rival, and that’s where all my mom’s family went to school. There was some trash talk within the family,” Jackson said with a chuckle. “It was my first year starting varsity. It was a magical night because we were down in the fourth quarter. Fans started leaving, saying we didn’t have a chance. We stuck it out and came out with a win.”
Jackson came out of the game with two touchdowns and two two-point conversions. He was the recipient of the wide receiver award in his sophomore and junior years and a first team all-district honoree his senior year, ending his high school career with 12 touchdowns and 68 receptions for 1,624 yards.
When it came time to select a college, UL was his top choice.
Memorable moments abounded in his final two years with the Ragin Cajuns. Jackson had two touchdowns and an epic catch in the end zone during a face off against New Mexico State in his junior year. In a game against Arkansas State, he went for 127 yards off of four catches and a 52-yard touchdown.
The championship game against Appalachian State might have ended with a loss, but Jackson left his mark with a handful of crazy, acrobatic catches. He credits Coach Bill Napier’s leadership for bringing out his explosiveness in those final seasons.
Coach Brown was not at East St. John when Jackson came through the program, but he knows the value of adding accomplished alumni to the coaching staff.
“The E continues to grow and get better. We have made a huge hire with the addition of Bam Jackson to our coaching staff,” Brown said. “He has already made an immediate impact on our program. We are extremely excited to have such a great individual join our staff.”
Jackson wants to teach the young athletes “not to put limits on yourself and not to let other people take their limits and put them on you.” He doubles as a world history teacher, where he hopes to make an equal impact on teenagers in the classroom.
“Being a teacher and a coach, I see that a lot of these kids in East St. John and in my parish aren’t bad kids like how everybody makes them out to be,” Jackson said.
He wants everyone in Louisiana, from the top to the bottom of the boot, to know that East St. John is in the business of putting young people in position for a successful life.
“I want to get them to understand that. East St. John can be a safe haven. I want them to understand life is bigger than just St. John Parish and Louisiana,” Jackson said. “You can leave, go somewhere and grow as an individual. You can be something and then come back and give back to the community to make it a better place for future generations. I really want to come back, give back and be part of the change.”