Deep Down Feeling Leads Defender To Auburn

This big tackle said deep down he knew that Auburn was the right place for him.

Opelika, Ala.--It's not often you'll hear a 6-2, 290 pound defensive tackle say the word love when talking about football. At least not when talking about his teammates. But that's just the word many use to describe Tommy 'TJ' Jackson both on and off the football field. Flashing a smile as big as the body it sits on, Jackson said Tuesday afternoon that he's glad the recruiting process is over so he can move forward in his plans to be an Auburn Tiger.

One thing about Jackson though, he's very down to earth. Unlike many star recruits who let the spotlight eat them up, Jackson has taken it all in stride. Perhaps it is statements like this one that make Jackson as loved and revered as he is in Opelika and made head coach Spence McCracken quip that he'll miss this big guy as much as anyone he'd ever coached.

T.J. Jackson takes the podium at OHS on Tuesday.

"I will say sometimes it made me feel a little funny because you don't want to feel like you're better than anybody," he told Inside The Auburn Tigers about the recruiting process. "I will never honestly say that I am better because your teammates are the most important thing in football. If you have guys that love you and you love them too, you'll do well. I honestly believe my teammates had more to do with me doing anything than anybody. My coaches and my teammates are my biggest assets. I love them."

A dominating defensive lineman as well as a powerful blocker at offensive tackle, Jackson is most known for wreaking havoc on opposing offenses. He finished his senior season third on the team with 106 tackles and also chipped in 19 tackles for losses and an amazing 65 quarterback pressures. For his career he had 208 tackles, 41 tackles for loss and 109 quarterback pressures.

Recruited by Alabama, LSU, Georgia Tech, Georgia and dozens of other schools, Jackson said that he battled with the decision off-and-on but deep down he knew where he wanted to be for the next four or five years. That was close to home and playing for the Tigers.

"Honestly, you know that feeling you get when something is right for you," he asked. "The way I'm down there all the time and the way I love it. I feel like that was my home. I had to be there. It was the best thing for me."

Unlike his teammate Will Herring who also committed to Auburn Tuesday, Jackson didn't grow up an Auburn fan. As a matter of fact, he said that he cheered for another team until he began going to Auburn games as a junior in high school.

"Here's the irony," he smiled. "I actually grew up an Alabama fan all the way until my 11th grade year but when I started going to their games, I honestly started liking Auburn a lot more and Bama a lot less. Bama is great as a school, don't get me wrong, but I knew I was a Tiger. I love the fight song too much…when I heard that fight song and went through that "Tiger Walk", that sealed the deal right there."

One thing is for sure, the Tigers sealed the deal on two terrific kids Tuesday afternoon as well as two terrific football players. It didn't take a long look around the jam-packed room at Opelika High School to tell me that. I saw it in the faces of the teachers and coaches that were as proud as parents for the two kids at the podium. Proud of the fact that two kids are able to live out a dream not many have a chance to make come true. Their ultimate dream. Playing the game they love in front of friends and family. It doesn't get any better than that in these kid's minds.

Jackson (right) poses with Herring (left) and McCracken following Tuesday's press conference.

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