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Thunder football star Jackson Cummings to play for Yale

Rocklin running back scored 42 touchdowns as a senior
By: Russ Edmondson The Placer Herald
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Rocklin High’s sensational senior running back Jackson Cummings will be playing football for Yale University starting in the fall. Cummings, 5-foot-8 and 190 pounds, scored 42 touchdowns for the 14-1 Thunder as a senior. The Sierra Foothill League’s offensive MVP also rushed 342 times for 2,406 yards this year while breaking school records for yards (game, season, career) and touchdowns (game, season, career), among others. Among his numerous honors that followed his senior season, Cummings was named Offensive Player of the Year for Northern California by calhisports.com. College signing day is next Wednesday so that is when Cummings can officially sign with Yale, which is located in Connecticut. But the decision is already made. Jackson’s dad, Casey Cummings, was a college running back (Northwestern 1982-85) and Jackson leaned on him for advice. But Jackson says that his parents (Casey and Robin) let him make his own decision about college. Robin was also a college athlete at Northwestern (field hockey and lacrosse). “They’ve been great,” Jackson said. “They just told me from the start that it’s my decision and what I felt was right for me and I got to make a true decision for myself. The whole recruiting process gets hectic . . . but I feel great about (the decision).” Among the other schools that recruited Jackson for football were the University of Nevada at Reno, UC Davis and West Point. Jackson also went on a visit to Dartmouth on the same trip that he visited Yale (Jan. 15-18). Jackson, who had a 4.5 Grade Point Average last semester, was very impressed by Yale. “I had a great time,” Jackson said. “I didn’t know what to think going in. Once I got there I got to meet the players and I felt like I would fit in with them . . . I didn’t commit (to Yale) right away. I came home, still weighing options (including Nevada, Dartmouth) but I just kind of sat down and put the pros and cons on paper.” Students pay over $50,000 a year to attend Yale but Jackson says nearly all of that is being paid for. Yale doesn’t offer athletic scholarships but they do offer lots of grants and financial aid. “We got the financial aid paperwork back and it’s really good,” Jackson said. “It’s not really costing my parents anything.” Jackson is very excited about what awaits him in college. “As far as degrees and the top schools in the world, Yale is in the top couple,” Jackson said. “You can’t find a better school than Yale. It’s a great opportunity. I train with a guy who is a linebacker at Yale (Jesuit High grad Jordan Haynes) and I talked with him a lot. It’s everything I’m looking for in a school. And I have a chance to play running back.” The visit to Yale included a fancy dinner on campus on Jan. 16. “They had a big dinner on Saturday night . . . and it was kind of a ‘wow’ experience,” said Casey, who was with Jackson on the recruiting trip. “What it came down to for him is Nevada is a wonderful place to go to school and play football. But when he went to Yale he had a really good connection with the faculty and the players and everybody.” Jackson met all the football coaches the first night he was at Yale (Friday, Jan. 15) and there was a dinner on that night as well. “We had dinner in this old wooden room that had a fire place – exactly what you would envision an Ivy League setting to be,” Jackson said. “Saturday we took a tour of the beautiful campus – and I had my admission interview and that went well. And that night we had a dinner with all the recruits and there were a bunch of (current) players and the deans were there. And there were a few professors there. The dean of admissions for the entire university was at our table – he’s a really good guy . . . It was just a great time. And (several speakers discussed) the tradition that Yale has.” Jackson didn’t start playing tackle football until high school. “When he got bit by the football bug as a freshman – he had so much fun,” Casey said. “Coaches and the players and the teammates and everything.” Jackson will sign with Yale one day before his 18th birthday, which is Feb. 4. “It’s a pretty nice present for him,” Casey said. Rocklin football coach Greg Benzel will certainly miss Cummings, who he coached on the varsity team for three seasons. “We are so proud of Jackson,” Benzel said. “Yale is getting an incredible young man who will invest into their community in a variety of ways. We will miss him . . . we were hoping he would stay on the west coast but he belongs with the best. “ Cummings is also a four-year varsity basketball player (point guard) and he has played some club soccer during his high school years as well. “I just really think you have to have some fun,” said Cummings about playing a variety of sports. “Playing sports for me, I love being with a team. You have your studies but you also have to have time to have a little fun.” Cummings will be limited to just one sport in college but he fully expects the fun to continue.