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Syracuse Football’s Most Important Players: #10 Courtney Jackson

Credit Cuse.com/SU Athletics

It’s T-minus 13 days until Syracuse football gets its 2022 season started. There’s some buzz around this year’s ‘Cuse squad as it hopes for a bowl, but the Orange will need sizable contributions from their returning players to get to the postseason. Here at the Fizz, we’ve whittled down a list of the Top 10 most important SU players for this upcoming season. Over the next two weeks or so, we’ll release our list one by one.

To get things started, No. 10 is a skill position player whose name didn’t crack the list in 2021: wide receiver Courtney Jackson.

Last year, two wideouts made the Top 10 – Anthony Queeley at No. 7 and Taj Harris at No. 3 – but neither one had a successful season in Orange. Harris hit the transfer portal not even halfway through the season, and Queeley finished up with just 15 catches for the year. In a receiving room that saw its top targets disappoint, it was Jackson who stepped up to give the Orange aerial attack an extra spark. On the ‘21 season, Jackson’s redshirt-freshman campaign ended with 37 catches for 389 yards and three touchdowns. All three of those figures led the team.

Why Syracuse Needs Him

Although Jackson isn’t even an upperclassman, he’s going to be looked at as a leader among the receiving room. DeVaughn Cooper and Anthony Queeley are both older, but neither has produced in the same way that Jackson has. Michigan State transfer C.J. Hayes hasn’t caught a pass at the collegiate level since 2019. Jackson is more of a known quantity than any one of those names.

Additionally, Jackson’s momentum through the end of the season springs reason to believe that he can be even better in 2022. A game-saving touchdown catch against Virginia Tech during a seven-reception day, a punt return touchdown against Boston College, and an eight-catch game against Pitt in the season finale all point to Jackson hitting the ground running to start this season.

Best Case Scenario

The ideal season for Jackson sees him stay healthy and continue to rack up a high volume of catches as Syracuse’s shifty, agile option in the slot. A 50-plus catch season with a double-digit yards-per-catch figure and around five touchdowns would be a successful season for Jackson.

Interestingly, Jackson’s best season may only come if he’s the one not leading the team in receiving by season’s end. If there’s another big target pulling coverage away from him, Jackson can thrive in more underneath, horizontally stretching roles and not have to carry the whole freight for offensive coordinator Robert Anae’s unit.

Worst Case Scenario

The worst possible situation for Jackson, as it is for most players on this list, would be to spend the season battling injury. If we assume that doesn’t happen, the other thing Jackson needs to avoid is taking a step back from what he did in 2021.

A slump of sorts is what hit Taj Harris post-2019 and Anthony Queeley last year. How much you believe former OC Sterlin Gilbert is to blame for cratering receiving performance is up for debate, but Jackson can’t afford to take a similar step back. If he finds himself buried in the receiving room like Queeley, Damien Alford, and SU’s tight ends last year, it’ll be a major problem. Consider consistency and weekly improvement as the conditions for Jackson to avoid such a fate.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for No. 9 on our list of Syracuse’s Top 10 most important players list.

Sunday, August 21 – #10 Courtney Jackson

Monday, August 22 – #9 ?

Tuesday, August 23 – #8 ?

Wednesday, August 24 – #7 ?

Thursday, August 25 – #6 ?

Friday, August 26 – #5 ?

Saturday, August 27 – #4 ?

Sunday, August 28 – #3 ?

Monday, August 29 – #2 ?

Tuesday, August 30 – #1 ?

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The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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