PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A week into the high school football season this year, one of the best football teams in the state of Oregon got better.
West Linn four-star point guard Jackson Shelstad announced that he would be joining the Lions football team that week. West Linn was already widely agreed upon to be a state championship favorite.
“I was pretty rusty at first,” said Shelstad with a smile.
The senior hadn’t played football since his freshman year in 2019 before this season, but it makes sense as to why since he’s one of the top high school basketball players in the country and is committed to playing basketball at Oregon next year.
Many college coaches would have been reluctant to let their blue-chip recruit play a sport that certainly doesn’t lack in injured players.
Not Oregon head coach Dana Altman.
“Heck, I said, ‘You get one senior year. Make the best of it. Do everything you can,’” recalled Altman of the phone call where Shelstad told him he wanted to play football. “I love guys who want to compete, and Jackson loves to compete, so I had no problem with it at all.”
“I’m just really grateful that he was okay with it. He trusts me. He knows that I love to compete and work hard and want to win, and he knew that’s what I wanted to do with my friends this season,” added Shelstad.
The competitor has certainly shown up in Shelstad, as he was named a First-Team All-Three Rivers League cornerback. The TRL is seen by many as the toughest high school football league in the state.
“Cornerback honestly seems pretty natural to me. It’s almost like playing basketball. You’re just down low in that stance,” said Shelstad.
It’s not just cornerback Jackson is excelling at. He’s playing on both sides of the ball.
In the state quarterfinals, he had three touchdowns as a wide receiver en route to a 56-7 drubbing of Sherwood.
“That was exciting. Sam Leavitt is a hell of a quarterback. He’s going to find you if you’re open. We just try to make plays for him when we get the ball,” said Shelstad.
Shelstad may be being a little modest there.
His head coach Jon Eagle has coached some serious athletes over the years and doesn’t mince words about Shelstad’s future in football if he would’ve stuck with the sport his sophomore and junior years.
“No question about it, he might have had a difficult decision about what to do in college, and he still could,” said Eagle.