ST. PETERSBURG -- When Luke Jackson was around 9 or 10 years old, his father had an inkling a pro career might be in the future.
"I was coaching him in Little League, and he had just loaded the bases," said Ed Jackson, who was with his 18-year-old son at Tropicana Field on Tuesday, a day after Luke inked a deal with the Rangers worth $1.545 million. "I walked out to talk to him, and he calmly said, 'Dad, I don't think I got it in me today.' Right then, I knew he had a complete understanding of the game."
The right-handed power pitcher out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was headed to the University of Miami before making his final decision on Monday -- just a couple of hours before the signing deadline. He went 8-0 with two saves and an 0.90 ERA and 87 strikeouts his senior year at Calvary Christian Academy, which he helped take to the Class 2A State quarterfinals in 2010.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder said the deciding factor was his meeting with new Texas Rangers co-owner and team president Nolan Ryan a few weeks ago.
"Just sitting there, talking with him was amazing, and I realized what a plus it would be for me to be in an organization run by him," said Jackson, who has a fastball that ranges between 91-96 mph.
Jackson also brings an athletic background that may help him advance quickly from the Minors to the Majors, having played soccer and football in high school, with an all-state first-team selection in soccer this year.
In fact, the aloof Jackson -- who wears his hair in similar fashion to pop sensation Justin Bieber -- mentioned his first purchase would be a Mongoose bike, and his preparation since being drafted "has included a whole lot of soccer."
"He's played sports his whole life, so we know he's ready for this next step in his life," his father said.
Jackson will report to the Arizona Rangers in the Rookie League.
Chris Girandola is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.