April 23, 2008

Offer list growing for versatile Tennessee OL

Will Jackson was in a reflective mood during a recent conversation with his father.

The Knoxville, Tenn., offensive lineman only had to look back one year to remember plans he was making to attend a couple of camps the summer after his junior season in order "just to get my name out there."

Instead, Jackson is picking and choosing which camps to go to this summer, all the while parsing through a growing list of scholarship offers from programs all over the country. Stanford indicated to Jackson in a conversation Tuesday afternoon that a scholarship offer in on its way and Jackson is intrigued by Jim Harbaugh's program.

"The education you get out there is tremendous, and it's a program on the rise," Jackson said. "I watched them beat USC last year. If I could get out there (to Palo Alto, Calif.), I'd love to check it out."

The Cardinal will join Ole Miss, West Virginia, Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, Middle Tennessee and Kentucky as programs that have offered a full ride to the 6-foot-4, 285-pounder.

Ole Miss is recruiting Jackson as an offensive tackle, as are most of the schools in the mix for his services. Georgia Tech is recruiting him as a guard.

"I've played all three positions," Jackson said. "I would prefer to play tackle because that's what I've played the most.

"My strength is effort. I go 110 percent on every play. I'm a hard-nosed guy. I think I have good feet and I can block a defensive lineman as well as a safety. I want to get better at getting that initial pop."

The bigger question these days is where will Jackson play? Already qualified with a 3.4 core grade-point average and a 24 on the ACT, Jackson will see plenty of college coaches on the sidelines when spring practice begins at Farragut High School on May 2.

Those coaches will likely include Ole Miss offensive coordinator Kent Austin and offensive line coach Mike Markuson, two men Jackson talks to regularly.

"I'm wide open, but I really like Ole Miss," Jackson said. "They have great facilities and I really like the coaching staff. They know how to win."

While reiterating that he hasn't narrowed the field yet, Jackson said Ole Miss, Georgia Tech, Auburn and Tennessee are his early favorites.

"I've been to Georgia Tech twice," said Jackson, who visited Ole Miss unofficially on March 1. "I'm pretty interested in them. They would definitely be near the top of my list."

Relationships with prospective college coaches will be a critical element in Jackson's decision. Proximity to home won't be, Jackson said, meaning Tennessee won't necessarily be a shoo-in choice when and if the Volunteers extend an offer.

"They've been coming on hard the last month or so," Jackson said. "Obviously, I'm interested, but they don't have a up because they're the hometown school or anything."

Jackson said he plans to camp at Tennessee, Alabama and Auburn this summer. He'll also attend two or three additional camps, but he hasn't decided where he'll go. The camp choices figure to be vitally important, as Jackson plans to take his allotted official visits early in the fall.

"The latest I'd want to make a decision is October," Jackson said.

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