Jackson Barton inherited his parents' athleticism

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 21 2012 6:00 p.m. MST

When Jackson failed to make the little league "A team" in fifth grade, Paul began a training program for him. Each morning they awakened early to perform a regimen of pushups, situps and jump rope. Since seventh grade, Jackson and his brother Cody have joined Paul in a more intense program.

Four days a week, they arise at 5 a.m. and go to the gym for an hour of weight training. After a big breakfast, they go to school with a mandate from their father to eat between each class and to eat two lunches. Each night, Paul prepares bags of snacks for the boys to carry in their pockets during the school day — fruit, granola, nuts, protein bars, sandwiches, chocolate-covered pretzels. Jackson, who plays on the sophomore, JV and varsity basketball teams, eats between each game, as well.

"The nutrition program is to keep moving forward on gaining weight and muscle," says Paul.

"Eating is the hard part of the program," says Mikki. "They eat so much food. It's like 7,000 calories a day for Jackson. He and Cody are gaining weight, but in a healthy way."

It appears to be working. At the outset of his freshman year, Jackson was 6-1, 205 pounds. A year later, he showed up for practice at 6-foot-6, 250 pounds. He finished the football season at 260. He's now closing in on 6-foot-7 and weighs close to 275. At this rate, he'll catch up with his size 17 feet. And yet Jackson is remarkably slender, with broad shoulders, narrow hips and a tapered waist. He has no lineman's gut. His strength has grown with his size. He bench presses 285 pounds and squats 410 — impressive numbers for a long-limbed, 16-year-old.

"And he's still not shaving," Paul notes. "He's not a fully mature guy yet."

(Cody, a freshman, is 5-foot-9, but sports a size 13 foot. "It's going to happen — he's going to grow," says Bullet.)

"At first I thought it was crazy," says Mikki of her boys' training regimen. "How many 14- and 15-year-olds get up at 5 and don't complain? But now that I've seen the benefits of it, I've seen a lot of discipline. They follow Paul's direction. It's like, if we're going to play all these sports, let's do it right. They're good athletes, but they're not the most gifted. They have to work hard to get there."

Like her husband, Mikki marvels at the early interest from college coaches. "I've been surprised at the whole thing. It seemed very young. It's exciting, but I also remind Jackson he's a sophomore and a long way from being ready to play in college. Enjoy it, but remember they're looking at your potential. I like to tell him, 'Don't flat-line on me.'"

Email: drob@desnews.com

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