Who would’ve thought that two games into the season, that redshirt sophomore Kearis Jackson would be Georgia’s No. 1 receiver? Well, that sentiment has been prove true. Jackson has been Georgia’s ‘go-to’ guy as he’s lead the team in receiving yards the last few weeks.
In the season opener against Arkansas, Jackson hauled in six passes for 62 yards, which was a career-high at the time. The Fort Valley, Ga. native had just five receptions in all of 2019. This past weekend, Jackson set another career-best as he caught nine passes for 147 yards, including a game-long 49-yard reception from Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett.
Even though Jackson had the game of his life against Auburn, he still wasn’t satisfied with his performance.
“My job really is to get open,” Jackson said in his postgame press conference. “It doesn’t matter what quarterback is out there. My job is just to get open, and I was able to do that and help the team. But I’m still not satisfied. I need to get in the endzone.”
Jackson has emerged as the leader Georgia needs, but also the alternate deep-threat accompanying sophomore receiver George Pickens. That’s what the concern was entering the season. It was a matter of figuring out who would take some of the pressure off of Pickens. Currently, Jackson is playing that role quite well.
Kirby Smart seems to think so, too.
“Kearis [Jackson] has been a great leader,” Smart said on Monday. “He’s been productive on the field as well as off. He represents us in so many ways. I am really proud of Kearis’ leadership, but also happy that a guy that works as hard as he does during the week gets rewarded for that. He’s one of those guys, similar to Mecole [Hardman] in how he works. He works so hard at practice that the games come easy to him. I am certainly proud of the way he is competing. He plays with physical toughness, the way you want to play.”
Jackson hasn’t had the easiest road to success at UGA. He began his career in January 2018 as an early enrollee and he impressed coaches during spring camp. Then, during fall camp that year he suffered a hamstring injury that caused him to miss time. In 2019, he also battled injuries that affected his playing time.
Now, Jackson has been seeing more playing due to his most recent success.
“He does what he’s supposed to do, when he’s supposed to do it,” Smart said. “He deserved that game probably more than anybody. He made plays and did a great job with that.”
Against the Tigers, Jackson made several key plays that helped Georgia’s offense tremendously. His first reception on Saturday night came on third-and-long for a 17-yard gain. While being flushed out of the pocket, Bennett found Jackson while heading towards the sideline making an athletic grab. At first it looked like a busted play, but the duo was able to connect to keep Georgia’s first scoring drive alive.
“I wouldn’t really call it a busted play, but the defense was playing zone and we attacked it to see the soft spot,” Jackson said. “And we were able to complete it for a big first down.”
It really seems like Bennett and Jackson have developed a strong bond, especially because they connected two more times on third down in the first half.
“I got to say it was due to offseason work,” Jackson said when asked about the connection with Bennett. “All the quarterbacks this offseason were able to put in that work. Like everyday we just wanted to get better and we knew that last year wasn’t what we wanted to have. This year we just wanted to come out and be explosive..We still do certain routes after practice to help us get better, and we know what we want and it showed tonight.”
Now, Jackson and the Georgia offense will face the No. 12 Tennessee Volunteers this Saturday. It will be another test because that defense from Rocky Top contains some talented defensive backs. Still, Georgia’s offense and Jackson have momentum riding into another top-15 matchup.
Here’s the video from Jackson’s postgame interview: