Could UM Gain Huge Commitment?

Edgard (La.) West St. John standout defensive end Tyson Jackson has been playing football for more than half his live and now it's about to become his ticket to a college education. "I've been playing ball for about nine years now," Jackson said.

"I started way back in Little League. I'd be all over the place. I just loved being out there and making plays."

Now Jackson is a 6-foot-5 and 280-pound wrecking ball on the defensive line.

"I think I have a lot of advantages as a defensive end," he said. "First because I'm tall, I have long arms and I'm able to use that to my advantage. Most of the guys I play against in high school aren't as tall so it helps me. I know in college, they always talk about how having long arms helps both offensive tackles and defensive ends. I also have quick feet, that's something I've always worked out. I take off fast too. So much of being a defensive end is beating the opponent with the first couple steps. I think that's a strength of mine."

Saying Jackson can run well is an understatement. He ripped off consecutive 4.7/40 times at the LSU camp last summer.

"I actually could have done better but my ankle was bothering me," he said. "I know I can do better. I'm able to out run receivers, running backs, whatever."

The talented defensive lineman, who is currently playing varsity basketball, made an early commitment to the LSU Tigers.

"I committed to them back in the spring," he said. "At the time, everything just seemed right. The coaches came at me and we really clicked. They're only about 40 minutes away from my house. I thought I'd have a chance to play big time college football close to home so I committed."

Throughout Jackson's senior season, he started hearing a lot about other schools. Whether it was watching them on TV or reading about them via the school's literature, he began wondering.

"I just started thinking that maybe I should go see what other schools are like before I sign," he said. "I mean I had five visits to take and LSU would only be one of them."

A former teammate of Jackson's, running back Derron Thomas, was starting to get into his ear.

"Derron was telling me about how great Miami was and I knew he had committed to them," he said. "He was gonna be taking his visit in January and we talked about going down there and being together. Then Miami started calling me and talking about a visit."

Jackson decided to take the trip to UM, along with Thomas, and he returned home late this past Sunday. He talked about that experience.

"I loved it at Miami," he said. "Me, Derron, and a bunch of other guys were just hanging out. The players were real cool. Jon Beason, some of those guys are a trip. Vegas Franklin is from this area. I just felt really comfortable when I was around them, like I could really fit in down there. The program is extraordinary, it really is. I'm used to winning and they definitely know how to win. They do a great job with their defensive linemen."

One of the most interesting parts about Jackson's description of the UM program is when he began talking about the depth chart. Something that sometimes pushes kids away drew even more interest from Jackson.

"I love seeing all that depth," he said. "I look at it like this -- if they have a bunch of defensive ends already on the team now, it's only gonna make me better in the longrun. I'll be able to learn from guys there now and I'll be able to compete with some of their younger players that are really good. That's how the great ones get to where they are. Miami's always been known for that -- they continue to produce great players because they have so much competition. That's a big thing for me."

As high as Jackson is on UM right now, he does still have one recruiting trip left -- LSU.

"Right now, it's a toss-up," he said. "I still like LSU but I never signed with them. Miami really blew me away. I had a great time and I could definitely see myself playing there. After this visit, I'll be able to sit down and go over everything I need to in order to make a decision."

So who might have the upper hand? Jackson's not ready to say just yet.

"I couldn't even say," he said. "It's like this -- I can't go wrong by choosing either school. They're both great and I'll go to either school. I just have to do a lot of thinking over the next couple weeks. Signing day is on the 4th and I'll probably know sometime around then where I'm gonna go."

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