"I just felt like Mississippi State was home when I was up there this past weekend," James Jackson said. "Everybody up there made me feel like family. I feel like that's the best place for me."
Jackson reports that he was able to spend a lot of time getting to know the Bulldog staff during his recent visit to campus to observe the Mississippi State team during their first spring scrimmage.
"I talked with pretty much all of the coaches when I was up there," Jackson said. "I did most of the talking with Coach (Brian) Baker and Coach (Dan) Mullen. I think Coach Baker is a good coach and I think I will enjoy playing for him. I see myself as a two way player that can play offense or defense, but they need me to play nose guard. That's what I am going to play and I am excited about it."
While the people of Mississippi State were a major draw for Jackson, the Mississippi gulf coast standout found a lot to like about the Bulldog program.
"It wasn't just the coaches," Jackson said of his attraction to Mississippi State. "It's the location, the facilities and really just everything. I feel like it's a great place to get my education and play football. They have a great atmosphere up there and I am excited about the future."
Jackson's area recruiter is fellow Pascagoula Panther Coach Terrell Buckley. Perhaps the "family" connections through the Panther football program put Jackson at ease when it came to the Bulldogs. The talented big man reports that now that his decision has been made, that he can simply focus on his senior season rather than his playing days beyond the high school level.
"It's a big relief," Jackson said with a sign of affirmation. "Mississippi State is a great opportunity for me. I had offers from them and UTSA (Texas-San Antonio) and Perk (Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College).
"I was hearing from Memphis, Southern Miss, Louisiana-Lafayette and a few other schools too. I'm glad to have all of this behind me now."
Jackson is planning to return to Starkville in two weeks when the Bulldog play their annual Maroon and White game as part of Super Bulldog weekend.
As a junior, Jackson served double duty for Coach Lewis Sims and the staff at Pascagoula. The personable big man was one of the most dependable blockers on the Panther offensive line and a certified mess maker on defense where he recorded 30 tackles from his defensive tackle position.
With Mississippi State making the move to the 3-4 defensive alignment, Jackson is expected to play nose guard when he arrives on campus in the fall of 2017. A personable and articulate young man, Jackson projects as a full qualifier once his high school days are done.
Coach Dan Mullen and his staff have added three verbal commitments towards the 2017 class over the course of the last two weeks. Walnut wide receiver Monterio Hunt and Itwamaba CC defensive tackle Lee Autry joined the class last week. Jackson's pledge is the the third towards the signing class from Mississippi High Schoolers.