"I am going to play offensive guard and defensive tackle this year," James Jackson said. "I am looking forward to it. I enjoy it and I just want to help the team. I am really working on being in good shape and getting better and getting stronger. I am working hard, the whole team is."
The Panthers went 9-4 and advanced to the second round of the 5A state playoffs. Jackson believes the 2016 squad can build on last season's successes.
"I think we have a team that can compete for a state championship," Jackson said. "I really believe in our team and I know how hard everybody has been working. I think if everybody can keep it up and stay focused that we can have a big year."
Jackson committed to Mississippi State State earlier this year. Jackson's area recruiting coach, Terrell Buckley, is also a product of Pascagoula High School. Jackson reports that the two Panthers became fast friends.
"I have a great relationship with Coach Buckley," Jackson said. "He knows where I am from and he understands what it's like growing up here. He's been through everything I have been through and he knows what I need to do to get where I want to go. He's a great coach and I am excited about getting up there."
Mississippi State earned Jackson's commitment fairly early in the recruiting process, but several schools remain in contact with him just in case he has any second thoughts about his college destination.
"Ole Miss has started talking to me and I have talked with Southern Miss a lot," Jackson said. "I have heard from a few other schools too, but I am still solid with Mississippi State. I have a great relationship with them. It's only getting better. I like Coach (Brian) Baker too. He seems like a really good coach."
In addition to being committed to the Mississippi State football program, Jackson reports that he is committed to a pair of a Bulldog verbals who live near him Paul Gainer (Gautier) and Austin Williams (Ocean Springs).
"I am in touch with them a lot," Jackson said of Gainer and Williams. "We have talked a lot and we have hung out some. We're all right here within about 30 minutes of each other, so it's been good to get to know them. We talk about the future a lot.
"We're all going to be up there for Big Dawg camp and that should be a lot of fun. I am excited about getting back up there around all of the players and coaches. It will be good to see the other recruits too.
"I have been getting pretty close with Paul and Austin and that helps. It is going to be good to go to school where I already know some people. I am excited about it."
Jackson is projected to play nose guard when he arrives in Starkville. As a junior, the 6'3" 345 pounder, recorded 30 tackles, two tackles for loss and one quarterback hurry despite not playing every defensive series.