Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Hard Work Has Paid Off & Continues To Do So For 2021 WR Deion Colzie

October 9, 2019
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Yolanda Jackson always wanted a son, so the family was thrilled when Deion Colzie‍ came along behind his three sisters.

“They were very protective of their little brother growing up,” Jackson laughs of her daughters Alexia, Brittni, and Careese. “They didn’t play about their little brother.

“He was a typical boy when he was little. Deion was always kind of quiet and mild-mannered, but he had a lot of energy. I never had any problems at all with Deion. He was a good kid. Being the only boy, I thought he was going to be a terror, but he wasn’t.”

Deion loved spending time outside riding his bike when he was younger and has moved on to other outdoor activities as he’s grown up.

“I never had to worry about him being stuck in the house on video games, none of that,” Jackson says. “His schedule is so tight between homework and practicing, but he loves fishing. He just started hunting.

“Those are the things he says relaxes him.”

But sports have always been a dominant presence.

At five years old, Deion moved to Henry County in Georgia with his family. He arrived just after the deadline for football sign-ups, but was able to play basketball and baseball in the winter and spring.

“He was good at both and it was really shocking because with him being so young, I thought he’d do OK, but he was really good,” his mother remembers.

And when football rolled around the following fall, they were ready.

“I’ve always been a football fan personally,” Jackson laughs. “I was like, ‘I want a son and he’s going to play football and Mama’s going to be happy.’”

Deion was immediately placed at running back and he shined from the start.

“I honestly always knew he was different because he was just that kid who was athletic,” Jackson says. “He was always the fastest kid on the team.”

A young Deion Colzie focused on the football field

In addition to his speed, Deion displayed a high football IQ from the beginning.

“He could comprehend things,” his mother says. “A coach could tell him to do something and he would remember to do it.

“It always fascinated me how much he knew about the game of football, not just out there running up and down the field, but how much he really knew about the game.”

By the time he was 10, Deion was diagramming plays at home and bringing them to the next practice for his coaches.

“He would be like, ‘Coach, we did this in the last game. Maybe we should do this, maybe we should try this,’” his mother laughs.

The coaches would listen and the plays would work.

Although she didn’t come from a football family, Jackson was always a huge fan of the game and even served as a high school referee when Deion was younger.

“I was a pioneer,” she says. “When I started, there was only one female white hat in the whole state. She was in the association that I was in. She took me under her wing and taught me the ropes about what to expect and what not to expect. I was actually a line judge and a head linesman.”

She stopped reffing as Deion got older and has had to display quite a bit of self-control ever since.

“It would drive me crazy when I would see the officials out there not making calls or calling crazy stuff and it still does, but I didn’t mix the two,” she says. “I would let them handle it and I would just deal with Deion.”

When it came to growing with the game, Deion handled much of that himself, devoting a tremendous amount of time to improving. Starting in sixth grade, he began working with former Georgia wide receiver Terrence Edwards.

“It honestly made me feel like this was something that he really wanted to do,” says Jackson. “He’s working hard to get better and not just going out there playing and then coming home and doing nothing. He really tries to hone in on his craft. He’s trying to get better at what he does, be a better player, a better man.

“When I saw him start to do that, I felt this is really what he wants.”

The work paid off as Colzie emerged as a top national prospect early during his high school career at Athens Academy, eventually landing scholarship offers from schools like Notre Dame, Alabama and Georgia among others.

Colzie will be making his fourth trip to South Bend for Notre Dame’s primetime showdown against USC this weekend.

Colzie and his mother were in South Bend for the Ball State game last year and will be back this weekend.

“The one thing I stressed to him about the process is staying humble and staying level-headed,” says Jackson, noting how easy it can be for kids to get caught up in the hype. “We try to keep him grounded.

“One thing I tell him is, ‘You have to remember that all eyes are on you and how you respond to things.’ For him, he needs to remember that it’s a blessing for him to be where he is. So far, he’s been doing really good.”

Jackson credits her husband and Deion’s stepfather, Frank Jackson, with helping her son develop as a player and person.

“He’s always been supportive,” she says. “He gives Deion advice about little stuff, what it means to be a man. He’s been there since Deion started playing along with his three sisters who have been supportive.

“There have been days where I don’t know how I would have made it without him.”

When Deion’s parents recognized he could have the opportunities he currently does, they surrounded themselves with people they could trust to provide guidance, including the mother of a former teammate who had been through the process.

“If it wasn’t for her, we probably would have been spending so much unnecessary money letting Deion go to all of these camps,” says Jackson. “Everywhere you turn, somebody has a camp. Because of her, we were able to really pick camps for him to attend that were going to be beneficial.”

Athletic ability is fleeting. It can be here today and gone tomorrow, but the knowledge you have, nobody can take that away from you.
- Yolanda Jackson

Still, the intensity of the attention struck them, especially when Deion received 350 separate pieces of mail in the days after Sept. 1st.

“That part was a little overwhelming, but the process itself has been OK,” she says.

The New Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta also helped, according to Jackson.

“Our church family has been really supportive, just constantly praying for Deion and encouraging him,” she says.

“You know how people say it takes a village? Honestly, it has been the village mentality with Deion when it comes to supporting him. Everybody in our village has been really, really supportive.”

Jackson says trusting God is the first value they’ve instilled in Deion and his sisters.

“Even from a young age, I always told him he was blessed with a natural talent,” she says. “I always tell him not to waste his talent and be grateful and thankful for the talent that he has.

“The second value would be honesty and commitment and being a man of his word. I remember when I grew up, a man’s word was worth something, it meant something. I want him to know that when you give your word as a man, you stand by it.”

Jackson knows Deion the person, aside from Deion the athlete, and stresses the importance of him remaining true to himself.

“He’s very humble,” she continues. “He’s easy to get along with. He loves people, he loves being around people. I tell him, ‘Always remember, that’s who you are.’ I always tell him, ‘No matter where this takes you, always be Deion.’”

Education has always been paramount in Jackson’s house.

“All of his sisters have college degrees,” says Jackson. “I’m currently pursuing my doctoral degree in Business.

“One thing I always tell them, ‘Athletic ability is fleeting. It can be here today and gone tomorrow, but the knowledge you have, nobody can take that away from you.’ That knowledge can take them as far as they allow it to, as far as they want to go. For Deion to have intelligence and athletic ability is a win-win. I’m constantly, constantly pushing education.”

That’s the main reason Deion ended up at Athens Academy, according to Jackson.

“What sold me was the academic program they have there, not only that, but the program that they have in place to help students,” she says.

His mother has trouble coming up with the words to describe how proud the family is of Deion.

“I would say that the proudest moments with him are when we’re at the football games and people constantly walk up to us and say, ‘You guys have raised a great young man,’” she says. “They always talk about how humble he is, how friendly he is, how respectful he is.

“You never know if what you’re teaching your children is sinking in until a stranger comes up to you and confirms it for you. That’s how we are right now. We love Deion with everything that we have.

“The only thing that I am more proud of at this moment is what Deion can become. I think I’m more proud of that because he’s on the right track and the sky is the limit I think for him.”

 
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