By: William Carroll
The path of Jaelon Acklin has been far from smooth, this extremely talented receiving prospect has had to overcome: being under-recruited, sitting behind a school record setting player in Lance Lenior, he didn’t receive any postseason all-star showcase invitations, and was largely overlooked in the pre-draft process, he was a combine snub despite posting 84 catches for 1,369 yards, he was the number two in receiving yards in the FCS, fifth in receiving yards per game at 114.1, seventh in total touchdowns with 14, ninth in all-purpose with 135.33 yards per game, 11th with 7 receptions per game and 14th in receiving scores with 10. Jaelon Acklin set school single-season records with 84 receptions for 1,369 yards. The senior wide receiver’s five 100-yard receving games matched a program record, while his 10 receiving touchdowns tied for fifth. He also set conference records with 19 receptions and 343 yards against south Dakota. Beyond his football IQ, his exceptional work ethic,Jaelon Acklin’s way more than a ‘try hard guy’ he has tested athletically and he showed he’s one of the most athletic receivers in this draft class. Meet Jaelon Acklin.
1. Jaelon, I have had the pleasure of watching your career from your time at Northern Iowa. What would you say are the 5 biggest and best lessons you’ve learned on your journey?
1. Be Patient
2. Stay Humble
3. There’s always somebody chasing you.
4. Be Different
5. Be Coachable
2. The next question, you played for Darin Acklin at at Liberty High School High School, what was that program like and what kind of coach was he?
My dad was a pretty good Coach, a little hard on me at times. He took over the program in a time where the school was thinking about cutting football from athletics. He turned the school around and has won 8 district championships since then. He expected a lot out of me and I can’t thank him enough for what kind of man he has made me today.
3. Who were your major rivals in High School and College?
Mountain Grove High School [and] Illinois State University
4. Your home area is loaded with talent Dylan Cole and Zeke Elliott, to name a few who are some of the best players you played with or against while you were in college, high school or growing up?
Some of the best players I have played against would be players like; Taron Johnson (WSU), Davontae Harris (ISU), and Tre Dempsey (NDSU).
5. What was your recruitment process like, who was interested and how did you choose your school?
[I] Had two division 1 teams recruit me. Western Illinois and Fordham were the only two teams that extended an offer. I chose Western Illinois because it fit with what I kind of atmosphere I grew up in. WIU is a blue collar, tough university. They don’t have the best equipment or media exposure, but they make due with what they do have, and have become one of the top teams in the MVFC.
6. What was the best game and the biggest play you made as a high school player?
My first game as a Freshman.
7. What was you big “Welcome to College Football” Moment?
Playing at Northwestern University on national television.
8. What is your current height/weight and what are your testing numbers?
6’2 190 lbs. Vert 39.5′, Broad 10’4, 40 4.43-4.58, SS 3.94-4.06, 3 cone 6.64, 60 yd 11.06
9. How have the systems and staffs at at your school impacted your development?
They have all impacted me in a positive way. Coach Fisher and Coach Rocco have helped me not only become a better football player, but a better person as well. They have taught me so much about the game, and I can not thank them enough for the impact they have had on my life.
10. Which coaches have had the greatest impact on you and why?
Head Coach Charlie Fisher, and Assistant (WR) Coach Rocco, and Coach Jacobs (Strength and Conditioning). They have both taught me the little things you have to do to be great. Eating healthy, working when others aren’t, and staying patient through the process. Greatness is not achieved overnight, but through consistency.
11. How hard was to adjust to the verbiage, system and play-book and when did you feel 100% comfortable?
It took me about 3 months to get used to “pro-style” verbage and huddling. Once I mastered the system, I was able to play many different position, thus utilizing my versatility as not only a receiver but a runner as well.
12. Who have been your favorite teammates, and why?
Sam Crosa, Chris Zobrist, and Sean McGuire. Sam and Chris play Xbox with me, and we have became close friends through our shared interest in Rainbow 6 and FIFA games. I also added Sean on this list because he was my quarterback and chose to throw me the ball more often than not. For that, I am forever thankful.
13. Who have been your favorite opponents and why?
I liked playing against the best players; such as Taron Johnson and Davontae Harris, [note: both have mid-late round grades from most evaluators] . I liked talking to them during the game, and being able to show people that I belong in the conservation as one of the best players in the FCS.
14. If you could put together a list of your favorite players to watch or emulate, who is on that list and why?
Adam Thielen and Odell Beckham, I like how Thielen made the NFL. He had to do everything the hard way, and is now one of the top WRs in the NFL. I also love Odell Beckham’s competitiveness. He is not afraid to show everyone how good he thinks he is.
15. What NFL teams are your favorites and why?
The Denver Broncos were always my favorite team as a child. I liked them only because my dad was a fan, and he loved John Elway.
16. Which NFL players do you think your game most closely resembles and why?
Adam Thielen. I have a similar body type and route running capabilities. We also came from small schools with similar pro day numbers as well.
17. When football is over what would you like to do with your education?
I don’t really know yet. I would like to coach soccer and football at the high school level once I am done with football.
18. Finally if you could go back in time to talk to 17 year-old you, what would you tell him?
Eat healthier, pray, and enjoy the process.
19. And what would you do differently if you could do it all over again?
Eat healthier sooner, and realize what it takes to become an “elite” player.
20. What [if any] is/are your nickname[s] and how did you get it/them
“Triple Play Jae”, I turned a triple play to help my team win the state championship in baseball during 7th grade. After the game, I thought of this nickname and changed my Xbox live name to “Triple Play Jae”.