It was in August of 2010, his eighth grade year, that Darreon Jackson and his family made the move from Cleveland, Ohio, where Jackson was born and raised, to Mesquite, Texas where his father, serving his 11th year in the U.S. Navy, was transferred.
It is in the model his father sets, and in his constant encouragement and push- plus the "higher level of play in Texas"- that Jackson stands improving, hungry, and with a bright future ahead.
"My father is a great person," he said. "He has taught me to be respectful and to always help others. He encourages me to do my best and that anything is possible if I set my mind to it. He always reminds me that I can be the greatest at what I do as long as I give 110 percent at all times."
2012 was Jackson's varsity debut for the Mesquite Horn Jaguars, playing in eight games, starting five, contributing 19 solo tackles, 29 total, which put him at a 3.6 tackle per game average, with two pass deflections.
"I love the fact that I can play safety and showcase my coverage, then roll down to linebacker and be physical and hit someone. I want to be the whole package," he said. "This offseason, I'm really focusing on the safety position- learning more coverages, one-on-ones, my speed. I'm running 40s every day, just building up quickness and explosiveness.
Jackson credits this to the help and mentorship of teammates, 2013 linebacker Kalan Elia and '14 cornerback Jorian Clark.
"When I first got moved up [to varsity], I would watch Jorian and Kalan. I really enjoyed watching Kalan because he was physical but fast. He was really a great player and like a brother to me. They would help me with the safety position, showing me different moves and everything."
The two also (Kalan 6-foot-1, 205 pounds and Jorian 5'9, 175) preached the importance of confidence in place of size.
"Size doesn't matter," said Jackson, 5'11/175. "No matter how big or small you are, I'm going to handle it. Because I have the speed, I have the vertical and I have it between here (pointing at his head)."
The Texas Longhorns are a program that saw this immediately last season and again during the spring evaluation period, inviting Jackson to their June 9th camp.
"It was great. The one-on-ones were the best," said Jackson of his Sunday outing. "The first session, nobody caught a pass on me, but the second session I only gave up two (one being to 2014 wideout offer Emmanuel Porter, formerly committed to TCU.)"
"Coach [Duane Akina] said that was big though with all the big receivers out there. We were going up against the best every rep. Overall, I felt I did real good. The camp was great."
Jackson noted Akina and the Texas staff are interested, and plan on further evaluating him through his junior season.
Likewise with Arizona State and Sam Houston State. Jackson camped at their combined satellite camp in Mesquite last Thursday, June 6.
He does not have any other upcoming camps currently planned. He and his Jags are rather focused on the State 7v7 Championships in Round Rock in July. They clinched two weeks ago at the loaded Mesquite ISD qualifier.