Chad Simmons

Duke Pledge Deon Jackson 'Listening' to UNC

UNC offered Deon Jackson last week.

Duke-North Carolina recruiting battles are typically reserved for basketball prospects. But last Wednesday, UNC -- which remains in the market for running backs -- offered a scholarship to Duke verbal commitment Deon Jackson.

"I'm definitely going to listen to see what they're talking about to see what they have to offer," Jackson said. "I'm just talking to them. I don't really have a visit or anything planned out. I'll have to see how things go."

Jackson, a 6-foot, 203-pound running back from Atlanta (Ga.) Pace Academy, verbally committed to Duke on July 29.

"I had talked to Coach [Larry] Porter a couple of days before I had announced my commitment to Duke and he told me that UNC was going to offer me," Jackson said. "But, he told me he was going to wait until my commitment blew over. He wanted to wait awhile before he made the offer official, I guess.

"And then he had me call him on Wednesday and that's when he offered me."

Jackson is unsure if his senior film nudged Porter to offer. In two and a half games (the starters were pulled at halftime of the opener), he rushed for 333 yards and two touchdowns for Pace Academy, which is considered one of the top teams in GHSA's Class AAA.

During their Wednesday conversation, Porter, who coaches UNC's running backs, explained his depth chart situation to Jackson.

"He told me he has Elijah Hood, but if he has a good year he's pretty much going to be gone," Jackson said. "Coach was telling me that next year they'll only have like one or two scholarship running backs. So, it would be a good opportunity to come in and play kind of early.

"I definitely want to play early, so that's something that I took heed to. That's one of the reasons I chose Duke, because I have a great chance to play early [there]."

Jackson visited UNC during the summer of his junior season. He and a couple of his teammates attended a camp, but watched from the sidelines. 

"It's been kind of a while, so I don't remember a whole lot," Jackson said. "I really don't know that much [about UNC], honestly."

UNC isn't the only program attempting to pry Jackson away from his commitment. Missouri and Virginia Tech, who both finished as finalists last July, haven't called off their pursuits.

"Those two schools are coming at me hard," Jackson said. "Those two schools said they're going to respect my commitment, but they're not going to give up on me until Signing Day."

Duke is the only school guaranteed an official visit, which is tentatively scheduled for a December weekend. It's also the only program Jackson has visited since committing (he attended the season opener against NC Central). However, he hasn't exactly ruled out visits elsewhere.

"I'm keeping an open mind, because a lot of things could happen between now and Signing Day," Jackson said. "But, I'm still 100-percent to Duke."

A June camp at Duke sold Jackson.

"I just had a great relationship with the coaches," Jackson said. "I enjoyed my visit -- I felt at home and I felt like it was the place I could spend my next three or four years of my life, playing football and going to school. Everything checked out with everything I was looking for: a good place with a good balance of academics and athletics."

Living in Atlanta, Jackson doesn't possess a full understanding of the the UNC-Duke rivalry. But, he received a crash course on Wednesday.

"It was kind of funny seeing on Twitter when I posted the [UNC] offer Duke fans and UNC fans going at it," Jackson said.

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