Jackson Waits For Right Opportunity

Dante Jackson of Greenfield (Oh.) McClain has been known for quite some time as one of the state's better basketball players. It has always seemed like Jackson, a junior, would eventually play basketball on the next level, but a new factor has come into play. Jackson has been out on the football field this season for McClain, and Ohio State has taken notice. Kyle Lamb caught up with Jackson, who was invited -- by the football team -- to check out the OSU/Michigan State game this weekend.

It seems like months ago that recruiters of Dante Jackson had Ohio State and Thad Matta to worry about. Making their life even more miserable, they now have to worry about a second Ohio State coach.

The 6-5, 185 pound junior from Greenfield McClain has been keeping people on their toes wondering whether the hometown Buckeyes would offer a basketball scholarship. Jackson was at Saturday's game against Michigan State.

But this time, as a football recruit.

"I was invited by the football team to come over on an unofficial visit," Jackson said Sunday evening. "It was a great game and they won obviously, so that's real good."

The talented Jackson is considered a two-guard prospect for college basketball recruiters, but this season he has been playing both offense and defense for the McClain football team, which is now 3-5.

Ohio State has been recruiting Jackson since the second week of the season for football. They send out letters routinely and have kept close contact with head coach Randy Closson.

"Ohio State is the only football school that has kept in close contact with me," Jackson said. "My coach has sent out film to a lot of other schools."

To this point in the season, Jackson has been looked at by Ohio State as potentially a wide receiver at the next level. He says he plays kind of a modified wing back for his high school team.

However, Jackson says his interest is still in playing basketball at the next level over football.


"Let me put it to you this way, if the right school would offer, I would sit down and weigh my options," Jackson noted. "If Ohio University for example, would offer me for football and Dayton has offered me for basketball, I would probably go to Dayton."

Jackson says he is thinking about Ohio State, Michigan, Xavier, Dayton, Pittsburgh, Penn State, Bradley and Virginia with North Carolina also sending letters.

He doesn't hide the fact that if Ohio State offers for basketball, it would be tough to turn them down. But now what if they offered for football?

"If Ohio State would offer for football, they are the premier football program in the country," Jackson added, "and that's just my opinion, but they are that right situation. If they offered, I would really have to sit down and think about my options."

In that scenario, Jackson said he would think about playing both.

"I really would have to sit down and consider it," he said. "I think I would try both."

This fall, Jackson has been on campus at Dayton and Michigan. He took an unofficial visit the weekend of the Michigan-Notre Dame game.

While he was on that visit, he spent a lot of time talking to Raymar Morgan, who was on an official visit. Michigan is another team he would consider an offer from if he gets one.

"I like their program a lot, but the visit went pretty good," he said of September's trip to Ann Arbor. "I got a chance to talk to the coaches and watch the game."

Thus far, only Dayton and Xavier have offered of the group of schools he's looking at. A lot of people still feel that if Ohio State offers in basketball that would be his first choice.

Jackson said that the Buckeyes are still showing a lot of interest and continue to recruit him.

"Actually, I saw Coach (Alan) Major at the game and he wants me to call him tonight," Jackson said. "They are still actively recruiting me."

Right now, Ohio State has told Jackson and his high school basketball coach Rick Van Matre that they would like to watch him practice and come down for some games this season to continue evaluating him.

Although it's likely the evaluation could stretch into the spring AAU season, which Jackson says will probably be spent with either Mike Price of the Cincinnati AAU program or Jerry Watson's All-Ohio Red, he is intent on waiting to see what Ohio State does.

"You know, I have no problems with that," he said. "I will just see how things go and continue to play hard and work hard on improving."

So now, the wait is on Ohio State for both Tressel's football program or Matta's basketball program. Anxious recruiters from Michigan, Xavier and Dayton wait patiently to see who strikes first.

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