Three-way tie for Jackson

Branden Jackson didn't know what to expect heading into his fifth and final official visit this weekend. The visit may have changed how he is viewing things.

McKeesport (Pa.) four-star outside linebacker Branden Jackson didn't think he'd be as impressed as he was with his fifth and final official visit to Pittsburgh.

"I really wasn't expecting that I'd like it that much," Jackson said. "Pitt has pulled up even with Texas Tech and Oregon. I was just impressed with the intensity and the emotion the coaches show. they have only been there a few weeks and everyone is buying into the program and what they are doing down there.

"When you looked at the press conference when Dave Wannstedt resigned the players were hurt," Jackson continued. "There was a lot of hurt feeling and emotions, but you don't see that down there anymore. Everyone is on board and looking forward."

One of the big reasons why Jackson is looking at Pittsburgh now is the change of the defensive scheme from a (4-3)to a(3-4).

"The new staff is going to run a (3-4) and mimic a lot of what the Steelers do," stated Jackson. "They like me as a stand-up rush end hybrid type of player like James Harrison coming off the edge or dropping into coverage and that excites me. Oregon also wants me to do similar things if I would go there."

Distance has always been something that Jackson and McKeesport head coach Jimmy Ward have mentioned when it comes to his recruitment, that Jackson may prefer to get away from the area.

"I haven't really changed my position on that," stated Jackson. "When I was at Pitt for a few days, I still missed my home and my family the same way I did when I was at Texas Tech or anywhere else. Regardless, wherever you go you're going to miss people who are close to you, but that is all part of maturing and becoming a better person. Sometimes you just have to man up and realize you can't just run home every time something doesn't go your way whether that is in Texas or Pittsburgh."

Jackson like most recruits face the rigors of recruiting with fans from different schools telling him where he should go or people in the community with an opinion as to where he should go. Jackson said he didn't hear that at Pitt, even with a roster littered with WPIAL players.

"Actually, none of the players did that to me," Jackson said. "No one tried to push me to go to Pitt. They all agreed that I should make my decision for me and what is best for my future. They told me what they liked and what they didn't and I respect that a lot. It was refreshing to not hear a bunch of rehearsed speeches that you know the coaches gave to them before you got there."

Now that the visits are all done Jackson has to sort out everything and pick a school. He said the decision became harder with this last trip.

"It definitely got a lot harder now," Jackson said. "I just want to talk with my family and people close to me that I trust. I may call some of the coaches if I have any last minute questions and I'm going to talk with Delvon (Simmons) and see what he is thinking.

"Pitt got my attention, but it wasn't anything that I saw," he said. "I have been down there so many times and seen everything. I like the new staff and the energy that they have. The are loud and commanding, but not intimidating and I like that. There is just a very positive vibe down there."

Jackson will choose between Pittsburgh, Texas Tech and Oregon at a press conference at McKeesport on signing day.

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