Nick Saban doesn’t waste time on kids he doesn’t want. Getting called into the coach’s legendary office with the wood paneling and leather and the automatic closing door, you know it’s serious. For a high school prospect it feels like you’re about to get chewed out or sent to detention.
When Vincent Jackson visited during Spring Practice, The Coach compared him to Dontae Hightower, and offered him a scholarship.
The 6-3, 245 stud linebacker from Jesuit High in Tampa, Florida was impressed. He told Joel Anderson of the Tampa Bay Times, “It’s crazy … the No. 1 team in the nation is offering me. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Action Jackson: In his recruiting video Vincent Jackson displays a rangy, muscular body and marvelous aggressiveness. He’s strong and pursues like the lead dog in a pack of crazed dogs, under control and smart, but with a nice edge as he smacks a ball carrier into the ground. (yahoosports.com photo)
He’s modest and serious about football. Asked by Steve Barsamian of The National Underclassmen Combine about what he likes about Oregon, he said simply, “Everything.” The Ducks have been in his top five since his sophomore year, and he’s indicated he’s looking for a great school with a successful program and an appealing campus atmosphere.
According to his recruiting video produced by hudl.com, the powerfully-built linebacker had 70 tackles, 26 tfls and 11.5 sacks last season for Jesuit. Already he has offers from 35 schools, including the Crimson Tide, Auburn, the Ducks, Miami, Ohio State, Texas A&M, Stanford, USC, and local favorite South Florida.
His high school program has won the last two IMG 7-on-7 National Championships, with Jackson leading the squad on defense. 7-on-7 is a challenging environment for a physical linebacker, requiring them to play in space against faster players in a wide-open format on every down, but he embraces the challenge, telling Daniel Tummeley of sbnation.com, “I’m just trying to get better with covering people. This really isn’t an event where a linebacker shines; it’s really a wide receiver/defensive back event. I’m just here to help my team on both sides of the ball. I’ve been playing 7-on-7 for a while now and, I mean, colleges are always impressed with that type of stuff.”
Jackson is scheduled for an official visit to Oregon on September 14, when they host Tennessee. An engaged, full-throated Autzen crowd would make the proper impression, and the new facilities have to be a selling point.
He told Barsamian his favorite actress was Eva Mendes, and his favorite motivational quote was Philippians 4:13, which reads, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Well-rounded and serious, Jackson is going to make one coach very happy on Signing Day. Nick Saban, with a stack of blue-chip letters in his office, rarely takes no for an answer.
The linebacker’s junior highlights, with scouting notes to follow:
:15 Plays tall, and could develop into a hybrid linebacker, inside linebacker or strongside defensive end depending on his growth pattern. Most sites currently list him at 6-3 245, but in tee shirt and shorts, he looks muscled and powerful, lean and mean in uniform.
:27 Physical. Gets in the last forearm shiver in a scrum. Intimidating and amped up but not out of control. Drives ball carriers to the ground, with authority. Good natural strength.
:34 High school coaches move him around in the formation, which shows his versatility. Has the mobility to play off the ball, very comfortable in space. Ranges to the football well.
Pass play. Tailback misses his block and Jackson utterly devours the quarterback. A nice smashmouth physicality to his play. Loves contact and creates collisions. Cuts off all escape, good quickness on this play. Aggressive.
:42 Has real potential as a blitzing linebacker or rush defensive end. Ranges down the line on a play away from him and gets in on the tackle, blasts the ball carrier. Will make the offensive backfield aware of him and wary of him very early in the game. Disruptive.
:55 Takes advantage of physical mismatches and plays hungry. At times in high school games he looks like Julius in “Remember the Titans,” so physically dominant it makes cheerleaders cry and old men reach for their flask.
1:03 Good mobility. Great at the chase-down with the quarterback running away from him. Strong tackler who finishes plays with drive and authority.
1:15 Plays to the whistle with his eyes up. Fights through double teams and holds. Gets a lot of his tackles “batting clean-up,” takes on a pile with a churning ball carrier and settles the issue with a whack and a pow.
1:22 Likes to mix it up and does a good job of keeping blockers off his body, sifting through the blocking to stuff the ball carrier. Never loses sight of the objective. Good instincts and intelligence in reading a play. An uncommonly mature body–looks like a college junior as a high school junior, the pecs and arms of a future NFL player.
Jim Radcliffe and Don Pellum would turn this kid into a football member of the X-Men. Already has the sense of mission and outrage you love in a young player, a healthy sense of vengeance and combat. Brings a hammer, the force field and the claws.