It's hard to believe that a kid from Pennsylvania, with no ties to the program, grew up watching the Iowa Hawkeyes. But, 6-foot-4, 225 pound 4-star outside linebacker/defensive end Branden Jackson did.
"I'm a die hard Steelerfan and Iowa is black and gold. They look like the old-time Steelers, so I always wanted to watch them when I was a kid when ever I could. I grew up watching them," said Jackson on the possibility of taking an Iowa official visit. "With the way they are playing this year and how close I'm getting with their coaching staff, I just really want to go see what they are all about and have to offer me."
Jackson has a handful of offers, but appears to be favoring Iowa, Texas Tech, Oregon, and Rutgers. He has already taken officials to Tech and Rutgers and is planning on taking a visit to Iowa either next week or at the end of the season.
"They are looking at me to play defensive end, a dominant force on the outside," said the Scout.com nationally ranked 8th outside linebacker.
While Jackson has stated many times he would prefer to play linebacker at the next level, he is open to the idea of playing defensive end. With Iowa's track record of putting defensive lineman into the league, Jackson knows the NFL could be a possibility at Iowa, but isn't exactly dwelling on it.
"It interests me, but at the same time I never dreamed of playing in the NFL. Now that I'm older, it's been on my mind, but not something that is driving me or anything. I'm education first type of player. It's nice when considering Iowa, but not at the top or anything when it comes to my decision," said Jackson.
As a junior, Jackson racked up 60 total tackles, six sacks and had one interception he ran back for a touchdown. While his numbers aren't exactly as high this year, the 2011 recruit feels he is still making a great impact.
"I'm having a pretty solid season, I'm not making as many tackles as I did last year, but I'm making more plays overall. I think that I'm standing out as more team player than an individual," said Jackson. "I think that I'm a little more versatile this year than I was last year. As a middle linebacker, I would cover tight ends and stuff like that. This year, I have played more on the outside. I cover receivers now and I'm a lot stronger this year. I also have to take on offensive tackles a lot more."
So what was Jackson's goal coming into the year?
"To show people that I deserve the hype I'm receiving. A lot of people said I didn't do anything last year, but just had a solid frame and the intangibles. That I was all potential. I wanted to show everyone that I received what I was receiving when it comes to offers and honors," said the senior. "Teams are always looking for me. It's really hard for them, because I'm all over. Sometimes I'm at linebacker, sometimes I'm at defensive end. How they line up, depends on how I adjust to them. They try to get the edge on me, but they can't."
Jackson reports a 2.4 GPA and a 720 on the 2-part SAT. He will be retaking the test in November.