FCS Spotlight: Jaelon Acklin, WR, Western Illinois

Jaelon Acklin may not be on everyone’s radar this draft season, but I am going to do my best to convince you to get him on yours.

With a background in basketball, track & field, and obviously football, Jaelon Acklin has earned all-state honors in three different disciplines over three years. He received all-state honors in basketball, scoring 1,000 points for his school, five times earned track & field honors in multiple disciplines and scored 65 touchdowns in his senior year at high school, totaling 139 across his career. Whilst it is impressive what Jaelon has achieved across all sports, we are ‘Dynasty Football Factory’, so I am going to focus solely on his footballing skills.

In DFF’s recently published ‘Small School Rookie Guide’ we ranked Acklin as the 3rd best WR coming out of the FCS, below Daurice Fountain and Troy Pelletier. (This one is on @TonyG_DevyScout and @AJDraftScout) Personally, I would have him on par with Daurice Fountain as I really don’t see too much difference in the two. Acklin measures at 6’2 and 190lb’s and just has the look of an athlete.

In his senior year, he started all 12 games and managed 84 receptions for 1,369 yards and 10 touchdowns, setting school records and ranking 2nd in the FCS – averaging 114 yards per game. When you consider that Western Illinois averaged 397.9 yards per game, Acklin accounted for 28.65% of all of Western Illinois’ offensive production.

It is when you watch Jaelon’s tape that you become really impressed. He can read a pass as well as anybody coming out of college and tracks the ball from the QB’s hand to his own. Another thing that stands out is his strength. Coming up against a defensive back, he will give it maximum effort to either make the play or stop the DB from making the play.

One thing that he needs to work on in the NFL is his route running. While he can track a ball well, there are slight inconsistencies in him running what appears to be the correct route. This isn’t a huge issue as this is something that could easily be worked on during OTA’s with NFL level coaching.

I was lucky enough to have the chance to chat with Jaelon and find out more about him:

So Jaelon, tell me a bit about yourself. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Mountain View, Missouri. It’s a small town in southern Missouri deep in the Ozarks, with about 2,500 total population.

What made you choose Western Illinois?

Fordham was my only other offer besides Western, and I wanted to stay a little closer to home than what Fordham was. Plus, Western was a blue collar University that I connected with. It reminded me a lot of where I grew up.

How old were you when you started playing football?

I started playing football when I was 6 years old. My dad was the high school football coach where I grew up, so I was brought into football at a young age.

That’s pretty cool. So assuming I probably know the answer to this one – Growing up, did you always want to be a football player?

Yeah! I always wanted to be a big-time football player.

You won a lot of accolades both at high school and at WIU across several Sports. What would you say is the highlight of your college career though?

Scoring the game-winning touchdown against UNI on their homecoming.

What is your proudest achievement off the field?

Helping kids with disabilities and spending the day with them in our school program “Rocky’s Reach”.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

Cristiano Ronaldo. He’s a player that I’ve looked up to since I was in high school. How he plays, acts, and dedicates his life to winning and being the best. Everything that he does, he does it to get better. I admire him for that, and he’s a good role model for anyone striving to be great.

What aspects of your game do you think help you succeed the most?

My knowledge of the game, along with my competitiveness, quickness, and speed. I’ve been brought up from a football family and played QB throughout high school. So I know the schematics and detail that defenses use and where the open holes are at in coverages. I also pride myself on being the most competitive person on the field. I try to win every single play that I’m on the field.

Are there any NFL players that you watch and try to model yourself on?

I like Adam Thielen and Tom Brady. Adam Thielen has the same kind of background that I have. He came from a small school, and not a lot of people knew about him. Now he’s one of the best WRs in the NFL. I also like to model Tom Brady’s attitude and passion towards the game.

If you could play alongside any current or former NFL player, who would it be?

I would probably say John Elway. I was always a Broncos fan as a kid, and that was my Dad’s favorite all-time player.

On that note, who would you say is the best player you have ever played alongside?

Sean McGuire, QB at Western.

So, this year’s draft is reasonably deep at WR. What would you say makes you stand out among other guys?

I think I have some different abilities than other WRs. With my testing numbers, I displayed that I am one of the quickest WRs in this class, along with above average speed of WRs at the combine. I also displayed my athleticism with vert and broad. On film, I showed that I can make tough catches, make explosive plays, and have smooth route-running capabilities. There aren’t many boxes that are unchecked that shows I have the ability to compete with some of the top WRs in this draft cycle.

Is there any specific team in the NFL you are hoping to be drafted to?

No specific team yet. I obviously want to be on a team that wants me as much as I want to be with them. A team that needs help at WR and has a good foundation for me to grow as a player is what my top priority will be.

What do you want our readers to know about Jaelon Acklin if they can take one thing from this interview?

I want people to know that I am the ultimate competitor, and dedicate my time and effort every day to becoming the best player and person that I can be.

Finish with a random question, if you could go and see any musician in history perform, who would you go and see?

Can it be a music group? If so- The Cranberries… For sure.

So that was Jaelon Acklin. Hopefully, you now have him on your draft radar. I would expect you will hear his name called in the 6th or 7th round of this year’s draft and I don’t see any reason why he won’t be lighting up NFL defenses come September. You can give Jaelon a follow on Twitter @Jaelon_Acklin, or feel free to hit me up on Twitter @DFF_JamesH.

As always, thanks for reading!


I work as an In-Play US Sports trader, father to Elijah, Archie and Izzie. Fan of Pittsburgh Steelers. Play the game as DT for Staffordshire Surge (Find them on Twitter @StaffsSurge). FSWA member. Follow me on Twitter @DFF_JamesH

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