Hugh Freeze's Auburn football program picking up former Cal quarterback Sam Jackson V, who played with Payton Thorne in high school at Naperville Central and will be becoming a wide receiver on the Tigers, was deemed a good pickup by On3's Justin Hokanson -- who feels the addition will be underrated nationally.
"This will be an underrated pickup nationally, but I love it," Hokanson wrote. "People that know Sam Jackson describe him as a 'freak' athlete. Jackson was destined to be a blue-chip WR out of HS, if he remained at the position. Combine that with his knowledge of what a QB wants from his WRs and his close friendship with Payton Thorne, and this is a great pickup in my opinion."
Thorne and Jackson famously got wrapped into the news together ahead of their two teams' September 9 showdown this past season; one Auburn was able to squeeze out 14-10 from Berkeley, California in Week 2. Ahead of the contest. Thorne expressed excitement about seeing his high school teammate.
"I can’t wait to see him,” Thorne said after Auburn’s 59-14 win over UMass on September 2 (h/t Auburnundercover). “That’s one of my absolute best friends. We’ll be friends for the rest of our lives. … He’s an electric player. It’s going to be fun to play against him.”
Jackson didn't reciprocate that welcoming energy.
“It’s game week…it’s not a rivalry game because this is the first time we’re playing Auburn but like, I don’t think there should be any communication between me and you, bro,” Jackson said on September 8.
Analyst agreed with Sam Jackson V over Payton Thorne ahead of Cal-Auburn football Week 2 matchup
AthlonSports’ Kevin Borba saw where Jackson was coming from, agreeing with his reasoning as to why he wouldn't show Thorne the time of day regarding excitement or even communication between the two during game week.
“Friendship is one of the best things that we have in this life, but when competition is involved all things are off the table,” Borba prefaced before saying, "Something we learned was the case on Friday when Cal quarterback Sam Jackson V told reporters ahead of their matchup with Auburn that he ignored a message from Auburn quarterback Payton Thorne.”
Luckily, this won't be an issue moving forward with the two as teammates. Or at least it better not be.