The Next Ted Ginn Jr.?

Ohio State fans were pleasantly surprised when Grand Ledge, Mich., wide receiver James Jackson issued a verbal commitment to the Buckeyes in early May. Now with him in the fold for the class of 2009, the four-star prospect is reminding the Buckeye coaching staff of a certain game-changing player who wound up being a first-round NFL draft pick.

The Ohio State coaching staff had plenty of reasons to be excited when James Jackson issued a verbal commitment to the program. For starters, the wide receiver out of Grand Ledge, Mich., is listed as a four-star prospect and the No. 20 wideout in the country by Scout.com.

As a junior, Jackson caught 31 passes for 430 yards and carried the ball 40 more times for 337 yards. Plus, he has been timed at 4.31 seconds in the 40-yard dash and can run the 100-meter dash in 10.56 seconds.

But when it comes down to it, the coaching staff sees qualities in the 5-11, 178-pound Jackson that remind them of a certain former Buckeye with game-changing abilities.

And those abilities are still growing.

"I've heard the comparisons that he reminds the staff a lot of Teddy Ginn when he first came," Grand Ledge head coach Matt Bird told BuckeyeSports.com. "I would say James as still a raw talent. He's got great speed, he's a student of the game, and he's getting better and better."

As a result, Bird said he expects Jackson to assume an even bigger role in the team's offense as a senior. The Comets utilize a pro-style offense that can see them spread out the field with four wideouts or line up with two tight ends and two tailbacks, but they will be borrowing a few pages from OSU head coach Jim Tressel this season.

"I've got a package that Coach Tressel ran at Ohio State and we're going to be doing some of the stuff that they hope to be doing to get that to mesh up," Bird said. "Not only is it a benefit to us, but also it's going to be a benefit to him."

Look for Jackson to be utilized as a wide receiver, a running back and a quarterback at different times during the year in an effort to get the ball into his hands more frequently.

Bird was quick to point out that Jackson is far from a finished product. With his natural speed and abilities, he is able to beat most players his age without having to do everything fundamentally correct.

"When I say ‘raw' I mean that he's still got to learn how to utilize his body and do some things such as route-running because he can get by at our level with his speed," Bird said. "There is a lot he's going to have to get from Coach Hazell. I know he's got a good fit there."

But when asked to talk about what his star athlete does particularly well, Bird spoke of Jackson's personality and demeanor away from the football field.

"The thing about James that is special is that the athletic ability is phenomenal, the speed is phenomenal, but the type of kid that he is," he said. "He's just a tremendous young man. He's very humble, he's very appreciative of everything that he gets and I think that's what the appeal to Coach Tressel and the staff was. He fits that mold of everything that they stand for."

It was that attitude that kept Jackson and those around him from holding a press conference to announce his verbal commitment, Bird said.

It will not be difficult for a player from Michigan to suit up for the Buckeyes in this case, Bird said. Jackson was on campus for a junior day during the winter and immediately felt like home, the coach said.

That, coupled with some advice the duo received about the recruiting process, was enough to convince him that Columbus should be his future home.

"What it came down to, and it was the best advice that we could get, was that you've got to knock down all the facilities and deal with the people," Bird said. "You have to look past the color situation, so to speak. Yeah, it's Michigan and Ohio State and that's huge and he's very much aware of the significance of that, but when he stepped foot on the campus he was very comfortable.

"The facilities are obviously amazing, but there is a different feel in Columbus. It's pretty special. We went down for a practice and really got some one-on-one time with the coaches and James kept calling and kept a good relationship with them and every time it was the same, consistent message. We called around to some guys that I know in the college game and they said, ‘Hey, this is what you're going to get from these guys. There's a reason why they've been to the national title game twice.' "

Looks like Jackson found a pretty good fit in Columbus, then.


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