"He (Locksley)sat and talked to my mom about how the program works and answered her questions. She wanted to meet him. My mom wants to get a feeling for the person."
It's obvious that Locksley made a positive impression. The Gator coach came across as informative and caring, especially to RJ's mother.
"Oh, she liked him a lot," said R.J. Jackson. "He answered every question she had. That's something a lot of coaches can't do. She pretty much wanted to know that I would be taken care of…things we do if I have a problem, who do I go to? How they will develop me as a person. She wasn't worried about football."
Although the Gators were late arrivals on the RJ Jackson recruiting scene, they've made up plenty of ground, but it's clear there is still more ground to cover.
"They (the Gators) are at the top," he said. "I like the offense so much. I like what they ran at Utah. I'm able to come out of the backfield and catch the ball. I did that a lot this year. For them to be able to exploit those abilities is one thing I look forward to."
Jackson did want to be clear that UF is just one of his leaders and not THE leader. Currently, Texas, Florida, Oklahoma State, LSU, and TCU comprise his top choices. He has visited LSU and OSU, and is scheduled to visit UF on January 28th. He was originally set to visit this coming weekend but was forced to reschedule due to his participation in the US Army All-American game. Jackson said he might visit TCU on the 21st of January.
An interesting point in our conversation came when I brought up the fact that the Texas Longhorns already had two running backs committed.
RJ said, "Yeah, I'm still seriously looking at them. The competition thing doesn't faze me. I know that with my abilities, and I learn the things I need to learn, then I'm going to play period. The coaches are forced to play the best players. Period."
Quite a commentary. It's obvious to me after speaking to RJ that he is very secure in himself and his abilities and isn't scared of anyone. He has a terrific attitude that will undoubtedly carry him a long way.
It's clear, also, that he's put a lot of thought into what happens on that day in the future when he hangs up his cleats.
"Academics …you have to put that at the top," he said. "I promised my parents that I am going to leave with a degree. That's why I kinda lean toward Texas and Florida because they are known nationally for their academics, as well as their football…it's the best of both worlds.
"I always keep that in mind. You also need a strong alumni base. You can see that driving around…you see the stickers on people's cars. That's something to keep in mind. There's life beyond football."
I continued by talking to RJ about how Meyer and his staff are new and how he has already established a relationship with Coach Mack Brown at Texas. RJ said, "Mack Brown is a player's coach. I've never heard a negative thing about Mack Brown as a person. It's all about who I feel comfortable around. You have to feel comfortable in your environment to reach your full potential. It's part of why I chose Westside High School."
I was very impressed with RJ. He was well spoken and he has obviously given his situation a great deal of thought. He is fully qualified with a grade point average around 3.1 and a SAT score of 1090. This past season he averaged nine yards per carry on the ground and twenty yards per catch through the air. He totaled 700 yards rushing, 800 yards receiving, and thirty-four total touchdowns. Certainly a dual threat - academics and football. RJ Jackson is the true definition of a student-athlete.