Cedar Hill Graduate to Make College Coaching Debut Next Month

Photo courtesy Cedar Hill ISD

(CEDAR HILL, TEXAS) Jaylon Jackson, a Cedar Hill High School Class of 2017 Graduate, is glad to be back in the Lone Star State, after six wonderful years in Boulder, Colorado.

Jackson, 24, is the wide receivers coach for the East Texas Baptist University Football Team in Marshall. He’ll make his collegiate coaching debut when the NCAA Division III Tigers visit Louisiana Christian on August 31.

Although Marshall is 162 miles east of Cedar Hill, it already feels like home for Jackson.

The Tigers’ first-year head coach is Calvin Ruzicka, who coached at Cedar Hill High School from 2001-2018. Ruzicka taught Jackson in high school mathematics, and coached him in both football and track & field. Ruzicka’s son, Mason – a 2014 CHHS Graduate – is ETBU’s Special Teams and Recruiting Coordinator. He was a senior at CHHS when Jackson was a freshman.

Beyond that, most of Jackson’s father’s family hails from the Marshall area, and he would regularly travel there for family reunions and gatherings.

“I’m excited to bring little gems I’ve learned over the years and expressing it to the kids,” Jackson said.

Jackson is grateful for the opportunity to coach at the NCAA Division III level. He debuts as a position coach – something that would be unlikely at a major college program.
“I get to go out into the fire and run a room, compared to being a Graduate Assistant where I’d be involved with paperwork and scheduling practices,” Jackson said. “Guys at ETBU want to work and learn the game. I’m glad to be at a private university where I can express my faith and encourage other guys to walk with Christ.”

Ruzicka is really excited to have Jackson on his staff.

“He’s doing a phenomenal job – the same great qualities I remember from Jaylon at Cedar Hill are present in his coaching abilities,” Ruzicka said. “He has an energetic, charismatic personality, and he’s been able to build relationships with his receivers.”

Ruzicka kept up with Jackson at Colorado, through his Jackson’s cousin, ETBU rising senior running back Jaden Thomas (from Carthage, Texas).

“The Lord puts people in our path for a reason,” Ruzicka said.

Jackson moved to Cedar Hill during the second semester of his Kindergarten Year, in 2005, and enrolled at Plummer Elementary. He was already playing organized football at that point.

He was a second grader at Plummer when Cedar Hill won its first State Championship in football, in the fall of 2006.

“I remember they had just started the Red Army, and we’d wear our red shirts to the games,” Jackson said.

Jackson would attend Joe Wilson Intermediate and Permenter Middle before his freshman year at CHHS in 2013.

He was a four-year varsity player for the Longhorns, with then-head coach Joey McGuire. Jackson was part of two State Championship Teams as a freshman and sophomore, respectively.

“It was one of the best times in my football career,” Jackson said. “It was a tight knit group, and we built a bond to where we could do anything. Our big motto was one team, one dream. We always felt like we could do anything playing together as a team. Coach McGuire was one of the better coaches I’ve had in my career. He was able to get players to do things they wouldn’t even think that they could do.”

Jackson was recruited by many Division I programs but chose Colorado because it was a great fit. He graduated CHHS at semester in December 2016 and headed north to Boulder for spring drills in 2017.
Adjusting to the high altitude at CU (5,360 feet) was difficult at first for Jackson, who redshirted in 2017.

“The altitude was a beast at first,” Jackson said. “After that, it was a breeze for us. We won many games against teams that weren’t used to the altitude.”

One of the highlights was returning to his home state to face the University of Texas in the Alamo Bowl, in San Antonio, in 2020.

He was with the Buffaloes for six years and through the head coaching tenures of Mike MacIntyre, Mel Tucker and Karl Dorrell, learning something from each leader’s style.
While many of his teammates transferred out upon a coaching change, Jackson stayed in Boulder because he chose the school, not just the football program.

Jackson graduated from Colorado last December with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a Minor in Ethnic Studies.

Jackson when he heard Ruzicka on the other end of the phone, offering him a position on the Tigers’ staff.

“Coach Ruzicka is an upbeat guy who emphasizes family and faith,” Jackson said.

From afar, Jackson is also hoping for good things for the Buffaloes, who are entering the Deion Sanders’ “Coach Prime” Era. Sanders coached Jackson in youth football, and he had a chance to visit with the Pro Football Hall of Famer in Boulder.

“I wish him all the best during his time there,” Jackson said. “If anybody can turn the program around, Coach Prime is the guy.”

During his time at CU, Jackson made it a point to volunteer in the community – something he’s already continued at ETBU.

“We recently did some work at a farm and learned about how horses impact people’s emotions and help those with Special Needs,” Jackson said.