Jackson: 'They're The Total Package'

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. --- Minutes after Tim Jackson announced his commitment to North Carolina on Friday, the 6-5, 220-pound defensive end from Gibbs High School sat down with InsideCarolina.com to discuss his decision ...

This has been a big day for you …

"It's a pretty big day. It's been long awaited – I've been waiting for this to end. I wanted to hurry up and get this decision made, find a school to be comfortable with and be strong with it."

Why did you decide to announce today instead of waiting until Signing Day?

"I wanted the schools to have a good opportunity of knowing where they stood. I didn't want to wait until the last minute. This way they have a way of knowing what their recruiting situation is."

What was the biggest factor in deciding on North Carolina?

"Just finding a place where I knew I fit; a family environment where I could see myself living for 4-5 years."

What else made UNC stand out to you?

"The environment – the city of Chapel Hill, the students, everyone is wrapped up in Tar Heel sports, whether it's soccer, football, basketball – they're all in. Academically they compete with anyone in the nation."

Your father said that Butch Davis was a big factor …

"Butch Davis was definitely a big factor. He let me know that he's going to be there, he's going to see me all the way through, he plans on retiring there, he's going to be there for the long haul and we're going to win championships.

"It's good to have stability. The schools I came down to, they all had a good coaching situation. Wake Forest, he's been there for nine years and had seven on his contract. Butch Davis, he told me he's going to be there. It really comes down to family and being there for each other."

Besides Coach Davis, what other coaches at UNC left a big impression on you during your recruitment?

"My defensive line coach – John Blake – he was definitely a big influence and I want to play for him. That's a guy you want to play for right there."

When do you think you knew you were going to pick North Carolina?

"That's a tough one. They've been my favorite for a while, but I wanted to see it through, hear everybody, give everyone an equal opportunity to show me what they had to offer. It just came down to getting a good night's rest knowing I made the right decision."

Was there a specific moment when you knew?

"Coach Davis finally came down this week on Wednesday. He made one last go - talked to my family and my pastors – and right there I knew I was probably going to be a Tar Heel."

Was the decision left up to you or did others have input?

"It was a collective group – we all took extensive time to find out how we were going to evaluate each school and how we'd approach the visits and make the decision."

Your father said he's a big fan of the SEC …

"It was hard when Coach Mullen (from Mississippi State) came down and was selling the SEC. I was kind of nervous for my dad because he loves the SEC and could see me playing in the Swamp getting back at the Gators, but he knew in the end what it came down to. It came down to who's been recruiting me longer and watching me develop. It really came down to family, trust and accountability."

Can you break down what you were looking for in a school?

Calling Butch Davis
"First off there had to be strong academics, something that would set me up after I get my degree – a nationally known degree, that will have me a step ahead of the competition when you have two people lined up for a job. Stability, I wanted to be stable and steadfast where I am, not having many changes so I can properly flourish as a player."

And North Carolina had all that?

"They're the total package."

What about the players on the UNC team – was hanging out with them important in your decision?

"Yes, the visit definitely answered a lot of questions. You can't just look at the building and the paint on the walls. You have to get around the people and see what they say about the school and the coaching staff and see if you really want to be there. … I spent a lot of time with other defensive ends. It was important to see who you're going to spend the most time with, who you're going to compete with, who you're going to watch to learn what to expect and so you know what to do when it's your chance to shine."

What can North Carolina fans expect from Tim Jackson?

"A guy that's going to give it his all. In the classroom, I'm not going to embarrass the University – if anything I'm going to help raise it – keep it at the bar it's been set at or raise it higher. When I play on Saturdays, you're going to get everything out of me."

How do you feel now that the decision has been made?

"It's kind of unreal right now. I still don't believe it. I'm glad to get it over with – it's time to get to work now."

Anything you want to say to the UNC fans out there who will read this interview?

"Go Tar Heels!"

Ten minutes later …

Have you called Coach Davis to give him the news?

"I haven't called him yet. I'm going to call him now."

You looking forward to making that phone call?

"Yeah, I know he's going to be hyped."

Do you think he expects it?

"I told him I was going to make a decision Friday – he wasn't 100 percent sure, but he saw the twinkle in my eye."

** Goes to make the call … **

So you just called Coach Davis?

"Yeah, just got off the phone with him. He was driving from Charlotte – he couldn't see the press conference so I got the chance to surprise him."

How'd he react?

"He was thrilled. He just kept raving about how he wanted me to be a Tar Heel, couldn't wait to get started and that he had big plans for me."

How'd it feel making that phone call?

"Yeah, but it's still unreal to me. The work is just beginning."


What's this day like for you?

The Jackson Family:
Al, Tim, Alexandria, Cassandra
"This is exhilarating. We are so proud of Tim, that he'd embrace the teaching we imparted on him and he ran with it. We are so proud of Tim this day. We want to think everyone who supported him, everyone who made the foundation for his academic success and his football career with the University of North Carolina."

How, as a family, were you able to come to this decision?

"We gave it a lot of thought, we did a lot of research, and a lot of prayer. With those three, and surrounding ourselves with great people – that did it for us."

Does this seem like a realization of something the started when he was a little kid?

"No, not at all, because we didn't push athletics. We pushed academics at the home. So it wasn't like this was destiny – it's just something that's part of his life and we're very proud that he's chosen a path to finish high school and choose a great college."

How much input do you have to help with this decision?

"The majority of it was all on Tim, because it had to be a perfect fit for him. Dad, you want to comment on that? …"

AL JACKSON, Tim's Father

"…Except I'm an SEC guy … it's different. It's going to be quite different. But I like Coach Butch Davis. He made a tremendous impact on me - as a person, his career, his commitment to excellence, and he has the program holding up to him. Based on all the schools that Tim was looking at, I was looking at ‘Where's the program heading?' and North Carolina, they are definitely on the upswing. So I'm happy with it."

When did you guys know it'd be UNC?

"We really didn't know. … We didn't know 100 percent until today."

Tim Jackson Profile

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