PISCATAWAY, NJ – It’s been a long road for former Piscataway Chief, Juwon Jackson, a dual sport athlete who just finished a prep semester at New York’s Milford Academy this fall.
Jackson, who graduated from Piscataway High School in June 2019 signed his letter of intent on Wednesday, committing to further his football career at Monmouth University.
“I know your road has been a little difficult, but you made it to where you need to be,” said Athletic Director, Rob Harmer before a small crowd of family, friends, and former teammates at the school.
“We all are proud of you. It’s been a nice time getting to watch you run the ball and win a state championship here. I want to thank you as the athletic director for everything you’ve done to contribute to Chiefs Nation,” he continued.
Harmer asked several of his coaches to join the ceremony, saying Jackson “wasn’t just a football player, he was a 'helluva' track athlete as well.”
Jackson’s coaches in track and football agreed.
“Juwon is the kind of athlete who just runs the competition. The higher the stakes, the more he stepped up,” said Track Coach, Pete Buccino describing some of Jackson’s contributions to the team’s second place finish at the 2019 Meet of Champions.
“Juwon has been a very special player,” said Dan Higgins, head coach of the Chiefs football program. “What I’m excited about, and I know his Dad is excited about, is now he gets to go compete with the very best."
“With the way he works and his work ethic and his commitment and the way he’s competitive I’m so excited to see what the next chapter in his life is going to be,” said Higgins.
And once Jackson put ink to paper, it hit him.
“The moment today was unbelievable,” Jackson said. “My former teammates came, my family came, and all my coaches were there. I’ve always dreamed of becoming a D1 athlete and today my dream came true.”
The Hawks have been in touch and have known of Jackson for a couple of years now and that paid off in the end.
“I chose Monmouth because of the history they had recruiting me. I went to their camp since I was a freshman in high school,” Jackson said. “I met (offensive coordinator Jeff) Gallo and he took a real interest in me. Then when I met (running backs coach Sam) Dorsett it sealed the deal. He really sold me on staying in New Jersey and playing for my state and my family. I had interest from Cincinnati, UConn, Wagner, and Rhode Island as well.”
Though Jackson had some options coming out of high school including offers from Wagner, AIC, Assumption College, a preferred walk-on opportunity at Rutgers, and interest from UConn, Central Connecticut State University, Albany, and Toledo, he opted to go to Prep for a semester to try and bolster his recruiting status and mature.
“Milford was a one of a kind experience,” Jackson said. “I had some awesome coaches and some not so awesome coaches. It humbled me and I met friends up there. I had a lot of adversity up there that I can’t comment on, but I’m just glad it’s over with.”
Jackson said that barring any setbacks, he will be at the school by the end of January.
“When I get to Monmouth I’m looking to bring everything I learned as a Piscataway Chief - hard work, dedication, and pride,” he said. “I want to be able to help the team in any aspect whether I’m a spell back, a special teamer, or a scout team running back, I want to help my team win and one day hold up a national championship.”
Jackson helped Piscataway win state titles in his sophomore and senior seasons. Piscataway went 13-0 and won the first-ever North Group 5 Bowl Game in 2018. He ran for 181 times for 1,886 yards and a school-record 31 rushing touchdowns. In his lone season at Milford, he had 30 attempts for 269 yards and six scores. He also caught nine passes for 76 yards. He was a three-time offensive player of the game winner and two-time special teams player of the game winner.
Monmouth, which made it to the second round of the NCAA FCS playoffs, plays at Rutgers to open the 2020 season next Sept. 5.
“I’m looking forward to playing Rutgers for several reasons, mainly because it’s in Pway, but also because I wanted to be there,” Jackson said. “But I’m happy at Monmouth and can’t wait to play against another Pway player.”
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