Giles Jackson Named One Of College Football's Most Impactful Yet Efficient Players

Eric Rutter

Heading into the 2020 season-- or the next football season, whenever that takes place-- Michigan sophomore Giles Jackson looks poised to make as large of a leap in development as anybody.

While making his mark as a productive and consistent return man in 2019, Jackson also showed that he can trigger high impact plays on offense as well. U-M offensive coordinator Josh Gattis preaches that speed in space is the recipe to an explosive offense, and Giles certainly has speed in spades.

But as it turns out, Jackson made a tangible impact last year already. According to Pro Football Focus College, Jackson was listed as the top player in terms of wins above average out of players with 50 snaps or less.

Ultimately, this distinguishment helps present how Jackson made the largest difference on the field last year in the fewest snaps, and the numbers check out. On offense, the 5-9. 188-pounder logged 9 receptions for 142 yards and one touchdown with a 50-yarder for his long, but Jackson nearly took another play to the house before penalties erased the effort.

Based on what was demonstrated last season, many expect for Jackson to carve out a larger role in the Michigan offense this season with the departure of Donovan Peoples-Jones and Sean McKeon to the NFL and Tarik Black now at Texas. Jackson could co-opt some of the more shallow routes that went to McKeon, but he also has the speed and agility to make plays deep downfield as well.

Now, it's no secret that the return game was Jackson's specialty a year ago with 622 kickoff return yards (25.9 yards per return) and one touchdown, but the dynamic U-M athlete has continued to garner praise for his role as a returner over the offseason.

“For kickoff returns, we love Giles back there,” Jay Harbaugh said in May. “I think everybody does. Crazy fast, super talented, and he even left some yards out there last year that I think this year he’s gonna be able to take advantage of. Just be able to continue to improve the way that he understands our system, seeing the blocking scheme develop. So, expecting a huge year from him.”

However, U-M has a pretty crowded special teams room full of quality returners as Ronnie Bell, Mike Sainristil, Blake Corum, Andre Seldon, Mike Barrett, Daxton Hill and Chris Evans received praise from Harbaugh as possible factors in the return game as well.

Just last week, Wolverine Digest covered the topic of who the most versatile player on Michigan's squad currently is, and I chose Jackson for his ability to impact special teams, and PFF College's tweet only emphasizes how he can be a difference-maker on offense even with limited snaps.

“In terms of Michigan's most versatile football player, Giles Jackson is as strong of a candidate as any current Wolverine. Last year, Jackson made a big impact in the return game, and his speed was used as a weapon several times as a receiver on offense. But judging by his agility, vision and tackle breaking ability, Jackson could even be used as a running back on third down situations. Michigan has a deep running back room right now so that probably won't happen, but Jackson's skill set is that of a scat back, similar to Tarik Cohen in the NFL. To top it off, Jackson was nominated for the 2020 Paul Hornung Award, which is given to the nation's most versatile player, so Jackson seems well suited to earn the title of Michigan's most versatile player.”

Last year proved that Jackson is difficult to corral in the open field, so it would behoove Michigan to utilize the dynamic playmaker in similar situations for the coming year.

What kind of role do you see Jackson taking this season? Will he have a more pronounced role in the U-M offense? Let us know! 

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