Every signee is different. Every signee has a story. For Oklahoma’s 2016 class, this remains true. Some recruits such as Downers Grove (Ill.) South offensive tackle Erik Swenson weren’t even on OU’s radar until the week before signing day.
Then there are guys like Cibolo (Texas) Steele’s Mark Jackson. Ranked No. 149 in the Scout 300, the four-star defensive end/outside linebacker flipped from Texas A&M to the Sooners on Monday.
A signee more than two years in the making. Because not only had OU been pursuing Jackson for more than two years, the Sooners were his very first offer.
“Yea, absolutely. Mark brought up more than one occasion that Coach Wright offered him as a sophomore, I believe,” head coach Bob Stoops said. “Mark is just your prototypical outside backer/d-end. He’s going to be a big man when it’s all said and done. With great speed. So yea it’s great to see it worked the way it did. Great family, excited about him.”
Former OU assistant Bobby Jack Wright knew the San Antonio area better than most and was the first one to notice Jackson. But it wasn’t his departure that led Jackson to initially pledging with the Aggies.
Jackson was down to OU and Texas A&M back in the spring before picking the Aggies in late May. But as is the case in recruiting 100 percent of the time, nothing is official until that fax is turned in.
The Sooners continued to keep in touch with Jackson and his family before setting the stage for a dramatic final month of his recruitment.
Three schools. Texas, OU, A&M. Three visits. Three weekends. It was a whirlwind, but the Sooners were able to get that all important final visit.
Jackson, listed at 6-foot-2 and around 230 pounds, seems like the perfect fit for what OU has been doing with its outside linebackers.
In defensive recruiting right now for OU, the name of the game is flexibility. Positions aren’t as much recruited about with defensive linemen and linebackers. It’s more of a feel of when they get to campus. That can be good and bad.
When it comes to Jackson, his role is defined. It’s clear. And he’s excited.
“A guy like Mark Jackson, that intrigued him,” said defensive coordinator Mike Stoops about Jackson’s versatility. “He likes standing up and coming off the edge like our guys. Everyone wants be like Striker or Bond. They like standing up and rushing. A lot of kids like that.”
“If their body types changes and they get a certain way then they’re not able to do all those things. Mark is a guy who is a prototypical for what we do whether he stands up or puts his hand on the ground or he’s over a tight end. He’s gonna be a 255-pound guy that can play over a tight end.
“Eric was no more than 215 pounds, playing over a tight end. There’s just a different body type than Eric. He’s three inches taller than him. What we were asking Eric to do at a college level you can do. You saw Eric playing WILL linebacker in the Senior Bowl. He’s playing off the line now. It’s just utilizing your players.”
Jackson is one of five Scout 300 signees for the Sooners and one of only three from the state of Texas. But the quality might trump the quantity, especially in the case of Jackson.