Merrick Jackson Discusses Illini Decision

After placing defensive linemen in the first round of the NFL draft the last two years, Fighting Illini football has begun to establish a tradition of defensive linemen. Perhaps that might be why Belleville defensive tackle Merrick Jackson decided on Illinois for his college home.

At 6'-2" and 290 pounds, Belleville Althoff's Merrick Jackson has the size to play in the Big Ten. And after thinking things through, he decided to commit to the University of Illinois over offers from Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, and others. Having the decision out of the way is definitely a relief for Jackson.

"It's a lot better. I won't have to worry about it during the season, and I can focus on football."

Earlier this week, Illinois assistant Chris Beatty paid Jackson a visit at his high school.

"Coach Beatty came and saw me. It was cool. We just talked about classwork and keeping up with my work."

The decision came down to a pair of schools for Jackson. Earlier this week, he made up his mind and chose the Illini over Iowa.

"U of I and Iowa were my top two, and the other day Iowa talked to my coach and told me they were full on defensive tackles, so once that happened I called up Coach Beatty and knew I wanted to go to U of I."

With his commitment out of the way, Jackson can turn his attention toward his senior year.

"Really, I just want to get in the weight room a lot more. And like I said, school work too. That and focusing on the season are my priorities."

Living on the Illinois side of St. Louis, Jackson lives near other Illinois prospects, including one defensive back who is high on a number of teams' lists.

"I'll probably be talking to Darius Mosley, the cornerback from O'Fallon a bit now too."

Jackson's Althoff team didn't quite have the season it wanted. But next year is a clean slate, and Jackson has high hopes for his team.

"I have the same goal any high school player should. Get to state and win it all, and if we can then go undefeated."

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