Wide receiver Giles Jackson can act like a tour guide for everyone on the University of Washington football team this weekend and show them around Michigan Stadium, affectionately known as the Big House.
This is a place where the late Keith Jackson, no relation, is credited with popularizing the overarching facility's memorable nickname as ABC-TV's famed voice of college football following a lengthy stint as ... the Husky radio play-by-play man.
Jackson and Jackson.
A speedster and a broadcaster.
Two guys with a UW-Michigan crossover.
Keith Jackson left us in 2018, but Giles Jackson from Antioch, California, likes to think he's just getting started.
This diminutive Jackson spent two seasons at Michigan, long enough to return kickoffs 95 and 97 yards for instant touchdowns against Maryland and Rutgers, respectively. He turned in 50- and 30-yard kickoff returns against Alabama in the 2020 Citrus Bowl. He slipped through the Ohio State defense for a nifty 22-yard rushing score.
Now there's the rub.
The multi-threat Giles Jackson fancies himself as a pass-catcher as much as anything, apparently a view the Wolverines didn't share, seeing him more as a specialist. He appeared in 18 games, starting 3. He caught a cumulative 24 passes for 301 yards and a score.
After his wide-receiver minutes and receptions fell off last year during a six-game pandemic season, he entered the transfer portal in late March and resurfaced at Washington, enrolling for summer quarter. The Huskies previously had recruited him coming out of Freedom High School in the Bay Area.
The 5-foot-8, 185-pound Jackson couldn't have known in advance how much the UW would need him on the rebound.
As a receiver — badly.
Up to four of his fellow Husky pass-catchers who are dealing with injuries could miss Saturday's game in Ann Arbor, leaving Jackson and three others as the only scholarship players available in their position room.
The UW wouldn't make Jackson and his obvious Michigan storyline available to the assembled media this week. Perhaps, the school didn't want him losing his voice or having anything resembling any kind of health setback.
Jackson might be as appreciated in Seattle now as much as he went unappreciated in Ann Arbor.
"He plays big," UW receivers coach Junior Adams said. "He goes up and just snatches the ball out of the air."
With a 4.43-second 40-yard dash time, Jackson checks in as the Huskies' second-fastest player, trailing only Kyler Gordon at 4.39 and clocking in just ahead of Trent McDuffie at 4.47.
The Huskies intend to get him into open space as much as possible and turn those RPMs into TDs.
"I think he's going to get faster and faster the more confident he gets," UW coach Jimmy Lake said.
Jackson already has made one breakthrough — becoming the first Husky player in 132 seasons to wear the No. 0 jersey.
He had an inauspicious UW debut last weekend when he and his teammates shared in the disappointment of an incredulous 13-7 defeat to Montana, an FCS entry. Coming off the bench, he touched the ball eight times but didn't find any open straightaways, catching 4 passes for 15 yards, rushing twice for 19 yards and returning 2 kickoffs for 38 yards.
Jackson could be inserted in the opening lineup this Saturday against Michigan, but the Huskies aren't releasing any two-deeps prior to kickoff. Because the Wolverines aren't doing it. Oh, the gamesmanship.
Considering what happened against Montana, it's possible the Huskies spend way too much time worrying about minutiae rather than just setting their hair on fire and playing.
Jackson knows where all the open lanes are at the Big House. It will be interesting to see if he can hit one and go.
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