Jackson Ahead Of Schedule

Ohio State already has four players from its 2009 recruiting class enrolled for winter courses, and that number will swell when spring football rolls around and more early-enrollers arrive. Buckeye fans can now add James Jackson to that list.

Driving back home to Grand Ledge, Mich., James Jackson had plenty of time to discuss what was on his mind with head coach Matt Bird. The duo had just been to Columbus to see Ohio State dispatch visiting Michigan in the final regular season game of the season, and the two now faced a drive home of more than three hours.

While in the car, the four-star wide receiver prospect brought up a radical idea for his school system. Now, with less than one week remaining until National Signing Day, Jackson has moved up his enrollment by a few months.

Jackson will be the first player in his school's history to graduate early. He will enroll in spring classes at OSU in March.

"It was just a situation that he felt in talking with myself and his parents that the time was right," Bird told BuckeyeSports.com. "We've switched to a different schedule and we're on trimesters and he would be able to accelerate his credits a little bit. So when we got to that point we did the numbers, we sat down and talked with the administration and it made sense. He's just saying, ‘I'm ready. I'm ready to go down.'"

There are a number of factors that went into Jackson opting to leave Grand Ledge early. One of which is his age – he turned 19 in December. Another is his pre-existing relationships with some of the players already in Columbus.

But the biggest one is that Jackson is simply ready to begin the next chapter of his life.

"It gets to a point now where the talk, you can only have so many of the same conversations," Bird said. "He gets down and he made a real good connection with a lot of the guys down there. They're building the camaraderie and it gets to a point where it's just like, ‘Get me in it.' "

The final decision was reached in early January, but the two opted to keep it quiet until the days leading up to signing day. Jackson's move means that he will forgo his senior track season, but that is a sacrifice he said he is willing to make. As a sophomore, he took home a state championship in the 100-meter dash.

Not every part of his school experience will end when the 5-11, 175-pound Jackson graduates in February, however. Bird said OSU head coach Jim Tressel is going to allow Jackson to return for his school's commencement so he can walk with the rest of his graduating class.

There will be about a month of time in between when Jackson will finish his final prep course and when he will enroll in classes in Columbus. During the meantime, Bird said Jackson will keep busy preparing himself for college.

"He's going to be working out," Bird said. "He's been running with his club indoor track team keeping his speed up and he's been lifting. He is doing everything he can possibly do with the knowledge that he's got to get himself ready for spring ball but also with the understanding that spring ball is going to be a completely different process."

Jackson will still sign his national letter-of-intent to become a Buckeye on signing day. During the month of December, Jackson made sure of that decision by taking a Tressel-approved official visit to UCLA.

"He talked to Coach Tressel and he said, ‘Take that visit. You do what you've got to do because I want you to do it for the right reasons.' He did. He came back and the next weekend he went down to Columbus and came back home and he said, ‘There's no doubt about it, I'm going to be a Buckeye.' "

Now he will become one a few months quicker than initially planned.

"It's just to absorb the process," Bird said. "It's going to be learning on the fly, but it's going to be that much easier for him come August. He's real excited."

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