Owls enter on three-game winning streak
Signing class features seven high school and four junior college transfers from Florida
Owls sign 12 high school and two junior college standout players
Through his coaching and recruiting efforts, Jason Jackson has helped Florida Atlantic remain one of the top baseball programs in the NCAA South-Central region. He joined the coaching staff in the summer of 2008.
During Jackson's six seasons, the program has captured three Sun Belt Conference titles and had an appearance in the 2013 NCAA Chapel Hill Regional, where they defeated No. 1 seed UNC, and in the 2010 Gainesville Regional, advancing to the championship game.
As the Owls made their transition into Conference USA in 2014, Jackson's efforts produced two more draft picks in Austin Gomber and Mitch Morales, and two All-Conference selections in Brendon Sanger and Stephen Kerr. Kerr also earned Freshman All-American as one of the most consistent players in the league.
His staff allowed only nine home runs, the fewest in FAU history and the fewest in C-USA in 2014. The Owls ranked 19th in the nation in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 2.57 and have led their league in that category each of the last four seasons.
Jackson has had 13 players, and eight pitchers, taken in the MLB First Year Player Draft since 2009
Jackson's role as pitching coach was evident in 2010 as he guided the Owls to their first Sun Belt Conference regular-season championship. The pitching staff compiled the fourth-best earned run average in the conference, but most importantly lowered the ERA by an entire run from the 2009 squad.
Austin Gomber and Hugh Adams shined in their pitching roles in 2013 and were both named first team All-Sun Belt. Under Jackson's guidance, closer Adams set the school's season saves record with 18 as well as the FAU and SBC career saves mark at 31. Junior starting pitcher Gomber was named to the preseason 2014 All-Conference team in FAU's first season in the conference and held the lowest earned run average in the SBC in 2013 at 2.97.
In 2012, the Owls went wire-to-wire to capture their second Sun Belt Conference title in a three-year span. Reliever R.J. Alvarez and starting pitcher Ryan Garton received first-team all-conference honors, marking the third-consecutive season that FAU has had the first-team all-Sun Belt reliever.
Jackson helped starting pitcher Paul Davis and reliever Hugh Adams to earn first team all-league honors following the 2011 season. Both players also were recognized as All-South Central region selections by the National Baseball Coaches Association of America. Adams led the conference with 10 saves, while Davis made the most of his only season at FAU, posting a 10-1 record with a 2.87 ERA.
Jackson has coached eight pitchers that have been selected in the Major League Baseball Drafts: Gomber in 2014, Sylvestri in 2013, Alvarez and Garton in 2012 after Davis was drafted in 2011. Following the 2010 campaign, Ryan Bernal and Mike Gipson were selected. Reliever Andy Mee signed an independent professional contact following the 2011 season. In Jackson's first season with the team, Alex Pepe was selected in the 2009 draft.
Alvarez was a third-round selection by the Los Angeles Angels, marking the fourth-highest draft pick in program history.
"Not only has Jason proven to be an excellent coach, but he is a good person who will represent the University with class and dignity," said John McCormack, FAU head baseball coach.
Jackson spent the 2007 and 2008 seasons as an assistant coach at the University of South Alabama (USA). Two of Jackson's pitchers at USA were selected in the 2008 MLB Draft. Under his direction, USA pitchers struck out 188 more batters than they walked during the last season.
Jackson's collegiate coaching career spans eight seasons, with seven at the NCAA Division I level. A brief stint as pitching coach at North Florida Community College was followed by a move to Macon, Ga., in 2003 to serve as assistant coach at Mercer University. Jackson was essential in establishing a number of new university pitching records during his three-year tenure at Mercer, and was elevated to the program's recruiting coordinator in 2006.
"I am extremely excited to work with Coach McCormack, who is one of the most well-respected people in college baseball," said Jackson. "The Florida Atlantic program has so much tradition, to be part of what has been established here and then to take on the challenge of raising the bar even higher is a special opportunity."
A native of Tallahassee, Jackson holds a master's degree in sports administration from Florida State University, where he also completed his undergraduate course work in physical education.