When five-star 2017 prospect Austin Jackson camped at Arizona State earlier this summer, a dozen or more ASU football players waited in line to say hello to him during a break in the action.
It was very evident that Jackson, a 6-foot-5, 270 pound senior ranked as the No. 2 offensive tackle in the West, is highly coveted by the Sun Devils.
Later, as Jackson and his Phoenix North Canyon teammates went through some one-on-ones with opposing schools' defensive lines, he got some additional support. ASU redshirt freshman offensive linemen Steve Miller worked with Jackson on his pass pro technique.
Those relationships matter to Jackson, and it's a reason he's since been back on the ASU campus several more times this summer. Most recently he visited with a number of other top 2017 prospects for an event ASU held immediately before the start of preseason camp.
"It was pretty cool," Jackson said. "I felt very welcome right away. Their offensive linemen really helped me out a lot. It automatically felt like they were big brothers to me. It was a pretty cool bond."
ASU's coaches have also developed a good relationship with Jackson through a lot of interaction, both in person and via the phone. Offensive line coach Chris Thomsen in particular has resonated with Jackson.
"I have really great relationship with coach Thomsen and a lot of their young linemen also actually," Jackson said. "I talk to them a lot. They're definitely trying to build something special and I think they're capable of it."
Jackson doesn't have any dates finalized yet for official visits, but knows he will take trips to ASU, Nebraska and USC. Michigan is also a strong possibility. A decision is likely to come after the season.
"I've narrowed most of it down but still like to keep my option open just in case," he said.
Asked about frequent speculation that he's likely to end up at ASU or USC, Jackson said he's not surprised.
"I get that a lot," Jackson said. "Honestly it's the two schools that recruit me the most so I can see why."
Known for keeping a low profile, Jackson has done very few interviews in recent months. But he said that's not because he has an issue with it. Instead, he's just trying to stay focused on what he can do to help his team and himself, on the field and in the classroom.
"I respect people that want to interview me," he said. "I just don't always get around to it. I don't really have the time. I have stuff to do with my family, with school, that I have to get done.
"I think because [becoming such a high profile recruit] happened kind of quick the shock doesn't get to me any more. I just try to make sure I'm staying on top of my game and keep improving. I try not to hear too much of the noise around me. I don't want to get too hyped up. I try to stay true to myself and maxing out my potential and keep hearing about it, hearing good things. That's what I like to hear."
Led by its new coach Jose Lucero, who was previously the offensive coordinator at state champion Desert Edge, North Canyon is off to a 2-0 start to its season. The Rattlers on Friday convincingly won 47-19 at Sierra Linda on Friday.
There's a different feeling around the program now according to Jackson. They'd already been close, but players were fed up with losing and playing for each other more than in the past. Several of the team's better players, including senior running back/safety Israel Oloyede and senior wide receiver/defensive back Samson Enis, are playing for the first time this season.
"It's a feeling I never felt before but it's pretty great honestly," Jackson said. "It's a good feeling. I knew from January when we first let our head coach on campus and he shared me some of the plan for the program and I think it's exactly what we needed. Since then kids have bought in right away. It's been the most productive summer I've ever had at North Canyon so far. It's been going pretty great."