Joe Siderwicz has been a coach at Center Grove (Ind.) for over a decade now. He is the quarterback's coach, and he has been coaching Tayven Jackson, Tennessee's latest commitment since he was a freshman. Although, Siderewicz was aware of Jackson long before then. He offers an inside look at what Tennessee is getting in the touted signal-caller.
Jackson, who now holds over 30 Division 1 offers, led Center Grove to a state championship as a junior and a state runner-up as a sophomore. So, what is it about his game that makes him so unique?
"A couple of things," Siderewicz said about what makes Jackson special. "Number one, his athletic ability. You have to be born with some athletic ability, and he has it. He has the size. He has the height. He is good on our track team. He recently came out for that. He is our team's best basketball player. He was actually the county player of the year. I live on a golf course, and I see him out there golfing. He is a great golfer. He is just one of those natural athletes that can pick up a ball and play. He has the size and speed to go with it. That is number one."
"The second one is his competitiveness," Siderewicz continued. "I had a Mr. Football a couple of years back, and guys that are that way have to have a competitive spirit. We played a game last year, and probably our most exciting game, it wasn't actually the state championship. The last game of the season, we played Indianapolis Cathedral. They were undefeated and ranked no.1 in 5A, and we were undefeated and ranked no.1 in 6A. It was a very exciting game, and it came down to the end of the game, and we were behind. That is when Tayven shined. It was all him. Calling plays from the line, spiking the ball, getting guys lined up, and he drove us right down the field and throws a touchdown with 10 seconds to go in the game, and he wins the game for us. He is the guy in basketball who wants to take the last shot. I would say his pure athletic ability and his competitive spirit are what sets him apart. He seems to relax in the most competitive moments. When everybody else gets tight, he shines.
"What he has done as a leader, his poise during the tough parts of the game, is what has made him a good leader," Siderewicz added. "The kids are always looking at who is going to do it for us. Now, they can look at Tayven as he has gotten older and know he is going to take us down and score. That is what I have seen in his leadership development. In critical times of the game, they can always look to him and that makes him a good leader. Plus, the fact, you have to lead by example in high school more than any other time. He never misses. He has been on our varsity since he was a freshman. There has never been a practice his freshman, sophomore, or junior year, going into senior year that I have walked out there, and he hasn't been out there. He always stays after and looks at film with me. He comes during his study hall to look at film with me. He just did yesterday, and it's spring. When kids see that he is always there, he never misses, he stays after, then the kids start looking at him as a leader."
Jackson is working to grow his frame ahead of the college level, as well as refining his tools as a passer. Despite his ridiculous arm talent, Siderewicz sees Jackson's ability as a passer to grow even more before the college level.
"He is always a tremendous arm talent," Siderewicz said. "He was in one of our football camps in 4th grade, and I saw him and said, 'who the hell is that little guy? He can fire the ball.' He has always had that, but he has worked at it a lot too. He works hard, and he loves throwing. I think as strong as his arm is for high school, going and playing against kids from Florida, Alabama, or Auburn, it takes a completely different level. You have to step it up a level. You aren't throwing against high school kids anymore. Guys are going to break on the ball a little bit quicker. They are going to read the play a little bit faster. It's just a whole different level. Even though his arm talent is unbelievable for high school, that's not college.
"With as hard as he works on it, I believe you are going to see the ball come out of his hands faster and see him become more accurate. Yesterday, he stayed after to throw, and he wasn't worried about hitting the receiver. He was worried about hitting him on his left armpit or dropping it over his shoulder to where he could catch it and run with. I think the two things are pinpoint accuracy, and I think his arm strength will get bigger and stronger. I think by the time he gets to college, you are going to see a bigger and stronger kid, which means the ball is going to come out faster, it is going to have more velocity, and the accuracy he has is going to be even better."