Jackson Pons picked up his first college offer from Gardner-Webb last spring, and he picked up his first Power Five offer from Mississippi State earlier this month. There’s a stark contrast between the two programs, but it’s clear Pons is a recruit on the rise.
Pons, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound athlete from Norwin High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, had moved to Central Catholic but returned to Norwin for his sophomore season and showcased what a few years of hard work did for his game.
“I would say that it says a lot of hard work is starting to pay off,” Pons told PSN. “I have been competing in national camps, showcases and 7-on-7 for the past two years against top players across the country, so I felt like I can compete with anyone. I did real well at the Prep 247 camp recently with Ed O’Brien, and that helped.”
Pons led Norwin with 457 yards and a touchdown on 33 receptions, and he racked up 31 tackles (18 solo) and four passes defended. On a WPIAL Class-6A squad, Norwin faced tough competition, but Pons regularly showed up.
And Mississippi State took notice, with senior executive director of recruiting Matty Dudek extending an offer on April 12.
“(The MSU offer) felt amazing,” Pons said. “I was so happy. I have worked so hard, and it felt unbelievable to get something I’ve been dreaming about since I was really young.”
With just an offer from Gardner-Webb after last summer, Pons’s recruiting process still included game visits to Pitt, Toledo, West Virginia and Rutgers last fall, and after a 247 Showcase this month, he said his process has really kicked off. He’s made unofficial visits to Akron and Penn State since.
As an athlete at Norwin, playing heavily at wide receiver and safety, Pons said he’s excited to flash his versatility on both sides of the ball as a junior. He enjoys playing on both sides of the ball, feeling like he’s good enough for either, but he’s excited to showcase his growth (rising to 185 pounds) as a safety this fall. And he’s going to get more work as a punt returner — looking forward to making more explosive plays across the lineup.
While Pons hasn’t made a visit to hometown Pitt since Oct. 18, Pitt’s game against Western Michigan, that relationship is slowly simmering.
“I have, (Pitt was) actually the first school I ever really talked to last year,” Pons said. “I had a really good relationship with coach Marion, the wide receivers coach, but he recently left for Texas. I attended the Pitt camp last summer and was named a Top 10 camper. And then attended a game in the fall. My 7-on-7 coach just talked to them and are trying to get down to campus soon.”
In the meantime, Pons will be in attendance at the Rutgers spring game on Friday and Penn State’s the following day. And he will begin to decide which camps he’ll attend in the days and weeks after.