Game of future Akron Zips Jackson Herbert football player, speed to burn.

Jackson Herbert’s path to the football field is quite simple.

His father, Joe, played football at Highland and Ashland University.

His mother, Lisa, was a whole different story.

As a child, she danced professionally in The Nutcracker at Boston Repertory Ballet and was a principal dancer at Wheaton College. Lisa followed a professional training with the dance company of Sydney (Australia).

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She was also part of a state-record-holding medley sprint team at Taunton High School in Massachusetts. She was Miss Massachusetts and one of the 10 finalists for Miss America, who later competed in the International Federation of Raw Powerlifting and held various records.

So naturally, Jackson was drawn to the field.

Expect. What?

Wadsworth's Jackson Herbert, right, and Highland's Jacob Dobkowski during the first half of their match at Highland High School in Medina on Saturday.

“My father played football. My mom ran track,” Herbert said. “Really nobody played football, so it was always something I didn’t know why, but I always did football. It’s kind of my thing and something I’ve loved over the years. year.

“I was 4 years old and I was with my mother playing in the garden. I think it was a basketball. I was just kicking and I liked the how the ball felt. I told him that I love football.

Sure, he dabbled in football and basketball and you don’t go to Wadsworth and at least try to wrestle, but it kept coming back to football for Herbert, a University of England draftee. ‘Akron.

“He’s the best player I’ve ever had, period,” said Grizzlies coach John Johnson, who is in his 26th season with Wadsworth and has been coaching for 34 years. “What he can do with his size and speed is pretty much unmatched. I’m thrilled to death to have him. He’s a footballer and he always has been.

Wadsworth's Jackson Herbert, left, and Highland's Matthew Wynne during the first half of their match at Highland High School in Medina on Saturday.

Jackson Herbert has speed to burn

Herbert is not only fast. The central midfielder is stunning.

He was clocked at 4.3 on the 40-yard dash and ranked last season at the Division I State Meet on the 400-yard dash at 49.09.

“The speed has always been there,” Herbert said. “Even playing with my neighbors, nobody could catch me. That’s kind of what I’m known for. It’s nice to have that because you can get so much separation so quickly. It’s really easy to play in space.

With that speed, however, came a learning curve with a soccer ball.

You can be Usain Bolt between the lines, but if you don’t know how to harness some of that speed, you can fall over the ball or get stuck on it.

Given his stats, Herbert, a second-team All-Ohioan, understood that. He scored 42 goals and had 20 assists during a career spanning more than three years with the Grizzlies.

“He’s quick and has a lot of speed, but he also knows how to slow things down to eliminate players,” said teammate Alex Innocenti. “He’s a team player. He can turn it on and off all the way. If he wants to beat a kid, he can, but if he wants to slow down and wait for his teammates, he can, and he does it perfectly. This gives us a big advantage.

“Yes, he can score 60 goals but, if he scores 60 goals, I guarantee you he has 20 assists. He just always wants to make sure he involves the team.

This is the biggest takeaway from Herbert’s behavior. He could count his successes with each goal scored, but if Wadsworth does not win, he is not happy.

The Zips are on line 1

How UA landed Herbert is a story in itself.

The Grizzlies were having a camp in mid-July and Johnson needed coaches. He called Zips coach Jared Embick for ideas, and Embick gave Johnson his coaching staff.

Associate Head Coach Ger Coppinger noticed Herbert right away and on Sunday of that week, Herbert was playing at an identification camp in Akron.

Less than a week later, Herbert was a Zip.

Wadsworth's Jackson Herbert runs a 4.3 dash for 40 yards, causing problems everywhere for defenses.

“He has such a soft touch and good body control,” Johnson said. “He will go to someone and turn around just to have space because he will be marked by the man. He has that kind of rhythm that you obviously can’t teach or train. He is just blessed. He disturbs. He is naturally fit. He never gets tired.

“He’s just one of those kids who has an engine that won’t stop. That’s what Akron wants.

When he arrives at UA, Herbert will look different as an outside defender – he’ll be pushing on offense in one of Embick’s most vital positions.

“It’s a bit of a change, but the game plan they gave me isn’t that important,” Herbert said. “I will be an outside back, but I will shoot like a winger. It’s basically the same thing.

Contact Brad Bournival at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @bbournival.