Damien Jackson

Pineville High School standout free safety Damien Jackson has made a decision.

And it doesn't include Louisiana Tech.

The Bulldog coaching staff offered Jackson, a 6-foot-2, 190-pounder who was first team Class 5A all-state this past season, before National Signing Day and continued to stay in touch afterward.

Jackson's long journey will come to a close next week when he signs a junior college scholarship with either East Mississippi Community College or Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.

"It's time for it to be over. It's time for him to make a decision," said Pineville High coach Mike Richard, who has said Jackson is the best safety he's ever coached.

Jackson was a hotly-recruited commodity during his senior season at Pineville, drawing interest and offers from Tech, Tulane, LSU, Alabama, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Michigan. However, he was missing one key ingredient -- an ACT score.

He finally scored a 21 on his ACT in February, projecting him as a full qualifier. However, by that time, National Signing Day had come and gone and all of the big schools recruiting Jackson were full with signees.

Tech and Tulane maintained their interest in Jackson, as well as a host of junior college programs. In the end, Jackson said he was steered the junior college route by LSU and Michigan, because of the allure that he could rejoin the recruiting process after one season.

Jackson said the edge likely will go to East Mississippi, which came to visit him at a track meet last weekend.

"This is a great opportunity for him," Richard said. "He's lucky to get another chance."

Richard said he didn't believe Jackson was taking a chance by rejecting Division I offers from Tech and Tulane in hopes that bigger offers will come next year. BCS schools were interested during his senior season and only backed off because of eligibility concerns, and they believe those schools will come calling again.

"It depends on what Division I school you go to," Jackson said when referring to his decision of BCS dreams over offers from Tech and Tulane. "Some schools care about athletics more than others."

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