DT Plans To Camp At UM

Several months after losing a heated battle to Florida State for Orlando's prized defensive line recruit, Aaron Jones, the University of Miami is back recruiting the area's top defensive lineman in this year's class. Evans nose tackle Vernon Jackson is coming off an excellent spring.

"We tied West Orange in the spring game," Jackson said. "They ran the wing-T and I had five tackles behind the line of scrimmage. I was having fun out there. After spring football ended, I just started getting back in the weight room."

The weight room has become a familiar place for the rising senior. He finished 10th in the state weightlifting meet last month after bench pressing 375 pounds ("I can get 400 without the pause") and putting up 280 on the clean and jerk ("I've done 300 before"). Jackson believes that carries over to the football field.

"I see a lot of guys with all this strength but it doesn't carry onto the field for them," he said. "I carry it over. I'm stronger, more explosive than those other guys. I'm more flexible. It doesn't seem like I would be, but I'm always lower than my opponent. That's how I win out there."

Jackson, who stands 6-1 and 260 pounds, has heard comparisons of another former Orlando area defensive lineman -- Warren Sapp.

"I'm actually stronger than he was at this age," he said. "He was a better athlete, more versatile. He played tight end, played basketball. I need to get more like that because I think I'm not that far off at that age. Warren just had the right attitude and I think it's something I'm gonna have in college."

Jackson, who has been playing defense since he began football at the age of eight, is already a full academic qualifier (3.1 core, 960 SAT, 22 ACT). That's another reason why he's such a highly regarded prospect.

"A lot of college coaches came by the school this spring," he said. "A lot of people called on the phone too but I'm never home so I only talked to some of them."

Jackson said two schools stand way out in his eyes at this point in the recruiting process.

"It's basically Miami or Florida," he said. "I don't have offers yet but some people are close. I've talked to both Florida and Miami. I'm confident that I'll do the things I need to do in order to get in at one of those places. Florida's defensive coordinator was talking to me the other day. I went to the Orange and Blue game and I loved being there in that stadium and inside that weight room. Plus my boy Brandon (Siler) is going there."

As much as Jackson likes Florida right now, he said there's something about Miami that nobody else can match.

"Six first rounders is what Miami's all about," he said. "Nobody else comes close. If you wanna play in the League, which I do, then Miami's the spot. I met Coach Soldinger a couple of years ago. He's talked to me. I'm going down to their camp on June 12 and hopefully I'll walk away having impressed them enough to get an offer. I see people turning down Miami and I think it's crazy. I'm really looking forward to that camp because of all the competition they'll have there. I wanna show them what's up."

Jackson also fielded calls from Syracuse, UCF, and Stanford among others.

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