Iowa Western C.C. defensive tackle Merrick Jackson is moving within four weeks of his signing, and the talented lineman is currently focused on two schools.
The 6-foot-2, 300-plus pound lineman is looking at Iowa State and Southern Miss and will take visits to both schools in consecutive weekends starting with Iowa State this weekend and Southern Miss on Nov. 20-22.
“Iowa State started recruiting me I think during the spring. I’ve always had a good relationship with them since they started recruiting me,” Jackson said. “They were one of the first teams that started recruiting me.”
Jackson, who will be a mid-year signee on Dec. 16, is also garnering interest from Minnesota and said the Gophers could be close to offering. While he is focused on the two schools currently, that list could eventually expand.
“I’ve been talking to a couple other schools, my coach has been talking to a couple schools about me,” Jackson said. “With all these jobs just now starting to get filled and other jobs starting to open up, they’ve been telling me how I’ll probably be down to the last minute. From what the Minnesota coaches are telling me they should be pretty close to offering.”
Iowa State sees Jackson being a cog in the middle of its 3-4 defensive scheme and has talked to him about being a noseguard. He prefers three-technique — that may be a non-issue in the 3-4 — but is open to playing about anywhere along the defensive front.
“At the time, when I was getting recruited, when they first started recruiting me, I was like 320 [pounds], 330, and I think they had me playing nose, which I’ve never played,” Jackson said. “I don’t have a problem playing it, but I’ve never played it. I’m pretty sure I’ll be playing nose if I go there, but I’m not for sure because I’ve lost some weight since.”
There will be one key determining factor in Jackson’s decision.
“Me playing, obviously, because I’m a guy that only has two years left. I want to get somewhere where I’m going to play. That’s honestly about it,” Jackson said before looking ahead to his visit. “[I want to see] how they’re going to use me in their schemes and the school, like are they going to be a school I’m going to be able to be successful in or my major [criminal justice], is it going to be good for my major?”
As for a timeline, Jackson will sign Dec. 16 at the latest, giving him four weeks before a decision must be made. Whether that decision will be made sooner will depend on interest from other schools in the days ahead.
“It just depends, honestly,” Jackson said of his timeline. “If I get more offers here in the next couple weeks I’m going to try and take at least one or two more visits and then make my decision around or on Signing Day.”