Wednesday, August 14, 2013

the recruit: J.J. Jackson

Name: J.J. Jackson
Position: DE
Hometown: Purcellville
School: Woodgrove
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 220

24/7: 85, three stars; #35 SDE, VA #27
ESPN: 76, three stars; #66 DE, Atl #110, VA #30
Rivals: 5.4, two stars; VA #33
Scout: three stars; #45 DE

Other offers: Duke, Ohio, ODU

Long-time followers of this feature realize by now that it's produced in order of commitment, and that would appear to mean I've skipped one.  You haven't missed the Gary Wunderlich post, it's just that Wunderlich got an Ole Miss offer and reopened his recruiting.  Not "officially," in that he hasn't used the word "decommit" (and his Twitter account is still pretty much UVA and not Ole Miss at all) but being a commitment and making a decision are mutually exclusive.  I've written plenty of these about players who eventually decommitted but I'm definitely not spending the effort to write one when I know full well there's a chance it might not come to any use.  So we're skipping ahead; the next commitment, after Wunderlich's, was J.J. Jackson.

Jackson is a big departure from the three high-profile commitments that came before him.  (Yes, still counting Wunderlich in that.)  You had the nation's best safety and kicker plus the state's best O-lineman and all the attention that came with it.  Jackson began a run of low-radar commitments that was slightly interrupted by Will Richardson and then bookended a couple months later by Andrew Brown.

It's not easy for those radar screens to find a guy who moves from Ohio and plays one season of varsity football, which Jackson is.  It's not that he's brand-new to football along the lines of, say, a Ziggy Ansah (the Lions' draft pick who literally had not played football until a year or two into his BYU education); Jackson played until eighth grade and then gave it up for basketball, returning to football in the spring of 2012 in time for his junior year that fall.  But Jackson didn't go to any camps, and probably would've been pulverized if he did; when he decided to play football at Woodgrove, he weighed 180 pounds.  Since then he's added 40 with an eating and weight training regimen.

The story for a guy like Jackson, then, is pretty familiar: nasty-good athlete, obviously raw, using his athleticism to eat up high school competition and slowly earning offers along the way as coaches decide if that athleticism is good enough to earn an offer for now.  Jackson's probably hit his star-rating ceiling because he's already committed and not doing the college camp circuit looking for offers, as many in his position do.  UVA's offer was about all he needed.  As time went on, it's possible he'd have received a couple more ACC invites; Maryland in particular might've offered in May if Jackson hadn't committed in April.

The offer that's interesting, though, is one not listed above because I don't bother with the I-AA ones: Yale.  Jackson is a high-quality student, and how many football players commit to a school citing its "globally recognized education"?

Jackson's position is still up in the air, though.  He filled out pretty quick when you think about it, packing on 40 pounds in a year like that.  The real question is, will he keep doing it?  Jackson's a good athlete and all, but it really takes a physical freak like Eli Harold to come in and play defensive end at 220 pounds.  Another 20 could keep Jackson at DE, his primary high school position.  If he tops out around 230 or so, he'll probably move to linebacker, where he'd likely play on the weak side to free him up from dealing with a tight end and allow him to still be able to rush the passer some.

Likewise, Jackson's future on the team partly depends on his weight too.  While the staff has filled the linebacker pipeline nicely, defensive end is another matter.  I'd guess the team is better off if Jackson can stick at defensive end, if for no other reason than the need for depth there.  It's easier to get lost in the shuffle at linebacker right now, the way the depth chart is shaking out.  The staff may even decide to redshirt him and feed him protein shakes for a year, because by the time Jackson is a redshirted sophomore, the class of DEs that are currently sophomores will be gone (Eli Harold and such) and the lineup will be looking frightfully thin.

1 comment:

pezhoo said...

Nice call on wund. Saved yourself some time. I hope germany was good.