"I am going to walk on at Nebraska," Jackson said. "Ever since the possibility of playing college football came up, around my sophomore year, the dream is to play at Nebraska."
The dream is possible because, according to Head Coach Jeff Reed, Jackson has a lot of ability going for him, but more than that he has heart. "The last couple of years we have struggled, but he always plays hard," Coach Reed said.
"Justin's a heck of a football player. He's one of the better ones I've coached in the 20 years I have been doing this. He has a tremendous first step. He's got a great motor, he just goes and goes."
It was only a matter of time before that motor of Jackson was going to start yielding some college interest. Just in the past week or so, Jackson has seen his stock sky-rocket. With the opportunity presented to pay for his education at one school, Jackson decided to follow his dream to become a Cornhusker.
"I started getting some interest, some offers and some asked me to start taking visits. I thought about Nebraska football, not wanting to leave home and I had that shot at being able to walk on. I am going to get that shot and I don't know who would want to pass this up."
"I was starting to get some offers. Within about a week I got a full-ride from South Dakota, an offer from Nebraska-Omaha which was everything but about $1,500 that I would have to pay for."
"Other schools started to call me. Northwest Missouri State wanted me to come up for a visit so they could offer me on campus. South Dakota State wanted me to come up for a visit and other schools like that."
"By the time those offers began to start coming in, I had pretty much already made up my mind that I was going to walk on at Nebraska. I didn't say anything except to my family and some other people. That was my decision."
The interest started out like a trickle, developed into a steady stream and Jackson is pretty sure that had he not turn the spout off could have grown even bigger then it had before telling Nebraska that he wanted to walk on.
"I think that I could have had quite a few more offers or schools interested in me. I just knew that I wanted to go to Nebraska. I had known about it for a while."
The opportunity to walk on at Nebraska is something that Jackson has been thinking about for a while now. There was obviously the dismissal of Bill Callahan which prolonged and muddied some things. However, Jackson was destined to be a Husker no matter the head coach.
"Nebraska has been talking to me for a while. Coach Ted Gilmore has been talking to me about three months ago and they just said that I could walk on at Nebraska. This was about the time with the Coach Callahan thing. That is what me thinking a lot about it."
"I started getting some contact from Coach Kevin Cosgrove and got some letters from him. I went down to a practice and that pretty much did it. It all just looked so good to me."
The question might become where will Jackson play? That's not a problem, it's a good thing. Jackson had a standout year as a defensive end for Norris High School, but he might project to the interior defensive line or even to center in college.
"I just broke 6-foot-3 or so, I am still growing. I am up to 255-pounds right now and I ran about a 5.0/40. I had six sacks, 84 tackles and I think 18 tackles for loss."
"We were talking about coming down and trying for a defensive tackle or a defensive end spot. Coach Barney Cotton also talked to me about possibly playing center."
While center has been thrown out there, Coach Jeff Reed says he knows better. Jackson's heart seems set to play on the defensive side of the ball. "I know defense is his first love. Coach (Barney) Cotton talked to him about playing offensive line, but Bo (Pelini) said that if Justin wanted to play defensive line, he'd play defensive line."
Jackson says that he will take just one official visit and it will be to see Lincoln. He will wait until Bo Pelini returns to Lincoln before getting that visit set up. "I am going to take an official visit to Nebraska. I don't know when it will be though. We haven't set that up yet. I am going to go there after the dead period, meet with Coach Bo Pelini and set that one up."