It’s been a bit of a culture shock for new Paso Robles High School senior Sincere Jackson.
After growing up in Daly City and attending Serra High just outside of San Francisco, getting to know the open space and small-town vibe of Paso Robles has been eye-opening.
“It’s a smaller town than I am used to, but you have everything you need,” Jackson said.
Jackson was drawn to the Central Coast by his father Leon’s cousin, new Paso Robles football head coach Larry Grant. Jackson calls him Uncle Larry.
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After an injury-plagued junior season at Serra, Jackson received a call from Grant, a former linebacker with the San Francisco 49ers, among other teams who was hired this offseason to replace longtime coach Rich Schimke. Grant told Jackson that if he came to Paso Robles, he would get more playing time and a better chance to excel in school.
“When I came out here, that’s exactly what he did. I am really blessed to get this opportunity to come and play ball,” Jackson said.
He’s not alone.
Grant also brought with him Fred Thompkins, his brother’s god son, from Kimball High in Tracy, whose football team went 1-9 last season. Both Jackson and Thompkins are expected to play big roles for the Paso Robles in 2017.
“It has always been a dream of mine, knowing my background and my history, there have been struggles at certain places in my family,” Grant said. “Any time I can get a chance to help my family, it’s always good. Fred and Sincere are both good kids. They just needed a better environment for themselves. Being here with me, I am helping them to be better academically, helping them athletically as well, just becoming better kids.”
Thompkins and Jackson will be starters when they stop on the field and cornerstones of the defense. Thompkins, a team captain, will play safety and has shown in the offseason that he’s ready to be one of the top wide receivers on the Central Coast. Jackson is a big-bodied athlete (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) who will play cornerback. The question is when. As of Thursday afternoon, both are still going through the transfer process and haven’t yet been cleared to play this season.
But both players have been welcomed with open arms by a team whose core group has been playing together since youth football.
“Everyone was social,” Jackson said. “It wasn’t like, ‘Who is this guy?’ The vibe of the team is very positive, and I feel like with that we can win a lot of games.”
The Tribune 2017 prep football preview
Over the coming days, The Tribune will roll out its 2017 high school football preview looking at teams, top players and story lines from San Luis Obispo County schools leading to the opening of the season Friday. Find new daily content online at sanluisobispo.com/sports and in the Sports section.