Saturday, June 11, 2011 | 1:55 a.m.
During a ceremony Friday at the Orleans Arena to induct Steven Jackson into the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame, the St. Louis Rams running back was praised for his many successes on the gridiron.
The Las Vegas native shined at Eldorado High, rushing for 6,396 career yards with 81 touchdowns in leading the Sundevils to the 2000 state championship game.
He went on to have a record-breaking career at Oregon State, gaining 3,625 yards and 39 touchdowns in a three-year career.
With the Rams, he broke Eric Dickerson’s franchise record for rushing yards last fall as part of a career that includes three Pro Bowls.
Yes, all those accomplishments are nice.
But for Las Vegas area high school football players, Jackson’s most significant accomplishment was simply excelling at the next level.
Before Jackson burst onto the scene at Oregon State, Southern Nevada was lightly recruited and several players with college-level talent went under-recruited. But after Jackson shined with the Beavers, college coaches starting including Las Vegas on the recruiting trail.
Over the last three years, almost 40 locals have received scholarships to Division I schools. A decade earlier, when Jackson led Eldorado to the state championship game, the area was lucky to have five players earn a full ride.
Thank you, Steven.
“I definitely helped pave the way for the other guys,” Jackson said Friday before the induction. “You have to give Oregon State credit for being the first to come here and bring guys out. Now, all kind of schools are finding guys here.”
But it is tough to find those with Jackson’s talents.
In the 2003 Las Vegas Bowl, his five-touchdown performance led Oregon State to a lopsided victory against New Mexico. Following the game at Sam Boyd Stadium, on the same field Jackson played on during halftime of UNLV games in exhibitions with his Pop Warner team, Jackson announced he was leaving school early to go pro.
After backing up Marshall Faulk during his rookie year, Jackson has become one of the league’s most utilized running backs — equally dangerous receiving and rushing the ball. In his breakout season of 2006, Jackson rushed for 1,528 yards and 13 touchdowns; he also caught 90 passes for 806 yards.
Being inducted into the Southern Nevada hall is another accomplishment he’s proud of. Jackson mingled prior to the event with past inductees and spoke with great pride about being included alongside the likes of local legends Freddie Banks, Greg Maddux, David Humm and others.
“This hall is filled with great individuals,” Jackson said. “Being part of this group mean a lot. It’s a legacy I’m proud to be part of.”
The other inductees included: the 1944 Las Vegas High football team, Olympic gymnast Tasha Schwikert, major UNLV donor Christina Hixson and longtime Las Vegas 51s executive Don Logan.
The Las Vegas High football team amazingly wasn’t scored on in going undefeated. Schwikert won a bronze medal in the 2000 Olympics, and Logan has operated the Las Vegas Triple-A franchise for more than 25 years.