Jermon was ‘bottled lightening’ as he electrified fans
So, what was your favorite Jermon Jackson memory?
When talking about Jermon, you can’t really pick just one. You can’t even compile one of those Dave Lettermen top 10 lists.
Jermon was a one-of-a-kind player, the likes we will never see again in our lifetime. He did things no other running back has ever done in the history of high school football in regards to this Tri-State area.
Former Ironton coach and athletic director Mike Burcham — the godfather of Ironton athletics — was the running backs and defensive backs coach for Ironton and thus worked with Jermon intimately on a daily basis.
“Jermon was something special. He was a threat to score any time he touched the ball,” said Burcham.
Although Burcham couldn’t think of all the things Jermon did as one of Ironton’s greatest running backs in a program filled with great backs, he recalled a couple that stood out for different reasons.
One came in the final game of the regular season when Ironton traveled to Cincinnati Mt. Healthy. The trip was about two and one-half hours and the team stopped to eat just before arriving at its destination.
The stop was at a smorgasbord and Jermon got more than his fill of chicken wings. So, before the game he was sluggish and moping around.
“Are you sick,” Burcham asked Jermon.
“Yeah, a little. But I can play,” said Jermon.
The other players then told Burcham he wasn’t sick and that he ate too much. Burcham said Jermon scored on Ironton’s first possession with a long run and came to the sidelines and promptly threw up.
“It was a good thing that this was in the days before everyone had turf,” Burcham said with a laugh.
Jermon ran for three more touchdowns and each time he scored he came to the sidelines and threw up.
After the game, Ironton head football coach Bob Lutz couldn’t resist asking Jermon, “How were those chicken wings?”
A great example of Jermon’s explosiveness came in 1992 at Portsmouth when the Trojans took a 14-7 lead with less than a minute on the clock and Ironton was out of timeouts.
Portsmouth had just scored to take the lead and head coach Curt Clifford called a timeout and told his kicker not to kick the ball to No. 25. The kicker nodded his head and tried to kick it away from Jermon but it was too close and he ran over, caught the ball and returned it for a touchdown.
The game went into overtime and J.J. King scored as Ironton took a 20-14 win.
Speaking of J.J. King, he and Jermon were the safeties when Ironton played at DuPont, W.Va., against a freshman sensation named Randy Moss. The two told Moss they were going to beat on him all night. They did just that early but soon Moss was looking to find an escape route to avoid them.
The result was the only game in which Moss never caught a pass during his high school and college career. Ironton won 32-6.
I worked with a reporter once name Brandon Roberts who played at Belfry, Ky. He was on the punt return team and told me of this experience.
“We were in awe of Jermon. We thought he was a celebrity. I went down on a punt and was standing right there when Jermon caught the ball. I reached out to grab him and all I got was air. I looked up and he was already 5 yards away,” Roberts said with a grin.
Jermon was the Associated Press Division III Back of the Year in 1993 and a USA Today honorable mention All-American. He was a two-time first team All-Ohio selection and ran for 1,849 yarrds and 29 touchdowns his senior season and amassed 4,452 yards with 70 touchdowns during his Ironton career.
The fan appeal for Jermon didn’t end after his days at Ironton. He signed with Ohio State and set a freshman record by scoring three touchdowns in his first game as a Buckeye.
Kenny Fairland and Dick Griswold decided to make the trek to the Meadowlands in New Jersey to watch Ohio State against Boston College in the Kickoff Classic Aug. 27 which was a Sunday.
Fairchild took his grandson Ryan Walker who was in the third grade at St. Lawrence Elementary. They drove through the night and pulled up in front of my house shortly before 8 a.m. Ryan slept in the car and then walked in the house, changed his clothes and I took him to school and he was there with time to spare.
And all because of Jermon.
But the best memory of Jermon has to be his big smile and loving personality. He never met a stranger or shunned someone wanting a picture, an autograph or to just talk.
“He still came here to the house and he was just a great, great guy,” said Burcham.
Now that is the memory to top all lists.
Jim Walker is sports editor emeritus of The Ironton Tribune.