PA LB Branden Jackson talks Michigan

McKeesport Pennsylvania linebacker Branden Jackson talks to GBW about his early-offers, including Michigan. Part-One of a long interview.

Sam Webb: How did things go for you on the football field for you last year?

Branden Jackson: "Last year, we lost three games. We lost two in the regular season and one in the playoffs. Last year was my first year starting on the defensive side of the ball. I was playing actually kind of out of place. I was playing middle linebacker, just because I was athletic and it was what was best for the team. If I could just do my job for the middle linebacker, then a senior would be able to move down to defensive end and it would be a better look for us. So I got placed at middle linebacker and I had a real good year. I was the second leading tackler on the team behind Carlos Brown, who was a D1 recruit. He went to Kent State. I can't remember exactly how many tackles I had, but I had a pretty good year. I started to blow up after we played Gateway our biggest rival and I had about 12 or 14 tackles. It is like ever since then it is just good."

Sam Webb: You said last year was really your first year starting on defense; what was you before that tight end?

Branden Jackson: "Yeah. I played a lot of offense. I was the backup quarterback. I played receiver because I got good speed and I'm tall. I played some tight end. I played some tight end this year, not really so much other years previous but this year I did just because I was…I have to be everywhere. I have to be on the field. I play receiver, I play tight end, I just never wanted to leave the field."

Sam Webb: You're just an athlete like that, I understand. What is your height, weight and 40 time?

Branden Jackson: "I'm 6'5", 221 pounds and I haven't run my 40 this year yet. Last time I ran my 40 I ran a 4.52 but that was last summer. I know for a fact that I got faster. I do a little underwater treadmill. I do a lot of training with that, with speed and stuff like that. I know I'm faster, but I just haven't gotten around to running my 40 yet because I've been busy with school and stuff."

Sam Webb: As far as recruiting goes right now, how many offers would you say you had?

Branden Jackson: "Right now I have three offers. I have an offer from Michigan, an offer from West Virginia and an offer from North Carolina."

Sam Webb: What are your thoughts on Michigan? When did Michigan start coming after you and how do you feel about the Wolverines?

Branden Jackson: "Actually, I never even knew that anyone at Michigan knew who I was. One of my closest friends is a Michigan fan and I used to root for another team just because he was a Michigan fan; I liked to mess with him. I really never spoke with anyone from Michigan. I never received a letter from them that they even knew that I existed or anything. This year, I got an offer from West Virginia and about two days later I got an offer from Michigan. I said hold on, this is a joke. My coach is like no seriously, you have an offer from Michigan. I was like Michigan what? And he said THE Michigan, the Wolverines. I talked to the coach and it was real. Basically my coach sent my tape out there and they liked what they seen and they offered me. It just blew me away because it is just…I do not know, Michigan is a huge school and I never thought they would actually acknowledge me. I was always an offensive guy and now they are recruiting me for Michigan. I was like wow, playing on D for Michigan!"

Sam Webb: You said they are talking to you about defense. Obviously you said that you played linebacker, you're versatile enough to play defensive end; what are they talking to you about right now?

Branden Jackson: "Right now I'm most likely going to play…it depends on how I develop as fast as I can. Like I can put on a lot of weight and still keep speed, so that is what they are mainly looking at. I'm most likely playing defensive end, but maybe a standup, so I guess you could say an outside backer."

Sam Webb: In your area, I think Tony Gibson is the recruiter. What are your impressions of Tony Gibson?

Branden Jackson: "Aw, he is real down to earth. That's what I like the best about him. Out of all the coaches that I've talked to he is the most like, cool. He just seems like he is into the new stuff. Like he is more up to date than some of the other coaches that I've spoken with. He really made me feel at home. He's a funny dude. Actually I talked to him about an hour ago, we were talking. He is just so down to earth. He just makes me feel like…I can tell that he is a tough coach but at the same time, he seems like he is approachable."

Sam Webb: You said North Carolina, West Virginia and Michigan. The obvious question that is jumping out is what is up with Pitt and Penn State; what are they saying right now?

Branden Jackson: "I do not know. Even I thought, first I was like okay. When I first noticed that I was a pretty good athlete I was like I'm probably going to go to Pitt. I was like I'm not the biggest Pitt fan, but I always root for my home team and as long as I'm good why wouldn't Pitt offer me, but Pitt just did not offer. They've shown some interest and I've been on their campus a few times for some junior days. They came to see me workout. They were sort of kind of recruiting me for defensive end, but me playing linebacker, I guess they were saying that they would have to I guess estimate how I would do if I played down. I do not know. As of right now, it does not look like they are going to offer me. I haven't really talked to them much since last time they came and watched me work out."

Sam Webb: You said that you did not grow up a big Pitt fan but obviously they are closer to home; let's say Pitt and Penn State do jump in and offer you; is that distance from home, that proximity, is that going to be an advantage for them over the other schools?

Branden Jackson: "Actually it wouldn't. I'm the youngest boy of three. My oldest brother just graduated from Thiel University and my next oldest brother just moved up to Philly. I'm the last boy that is going to be leaving home and my mom has three boys and a girl but when she comes to her boys, I do not know she is like one of the boys. She is always around us and stuff. Like when my brothers left, me and her became closer and she would want me to go somewhere like Pitt or Penn State somewhere closer to home, so that she could be around, but I want to get out and experience life. If I was to go somewhere further away it wouldn't really bother me because that's something that I want to do and I want to get out and do other things. I know all there is to know about Pittsburgh. I grew up a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, so I was always downtown. There is not too much more I can learn about Pittsburgh, so I would rather go out and experience. If they were to jump into the mix, it would be like they were late to the party and they would probably have to work harder than anybody else because they knew of me since I was younger and they waited."

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