Cibolo (Texas) Steele HS DE Mark Jackson (6-3, 226, No. 19 DE)
The story: Jackson committed to Texas A&M in May 2015 – and remained with the Aggies for a while. The near-perfect ‘Jack’ linebacker for the Oklahoma defense, Jackson is a hybrid outside pass rusher. The Scout 150 prospect picked Oklahoma just a few days before National Signing Day. The Sooners had offered Jackson almost two years earlier and were Jackson’s very first offer. It paid off in the long run.
JH: When you first got the OU offer two years ago, did you think you’d sign?
MJ: It was more towards the beginning of my sophomore year, the end of my freshman year – that summer kind of. When I got it, I was really surprised about it. I didn’t really want to really tell anybody. I was going to like silently commit and keep it moving. I was so surprised by a huge offer and the Oklahoma Sooners, such a seasoned program like that. I was kind of in shock about the whole thing.
What changed for you to look at other options?
I was trying to not jump to the first thing. With Oklahoma being such a big program, offers came immediately after the Oklahoma one. After that news spread, I had more choices to chose from and really to ensure that the choice would be right, I made sure that I look at other programs and what they had to offer as well.
What made OU the place for you then?
I really settled in my heart that OU is the best school for me. Growing up in Texas, you constantly see them in rivalry with UT. There’s a lot of history behind the program and a lot of history going to OU rather than going to the Texas Longhorns. I really enjoyed being around some of the coaches and the player. It’s some of the best players I’ve seen around in the Big 12. You see it in recruiting. You see what everybody has to offer, and OU had the best to offer, especially for me.
What was your favorite part of the process?
Everybody loves attention and being spoiled a little bit. I really enjoyed that. Everybody tries to get your attention and really just feeling like you’re top dog. I hope I do that again soon in Norman.
What was the toughest part of the recruiting process? Was it de-committing from Texas A&M?
It wasn’t necessarily trying to de-commit from Texas A&M. I knew that wasn’t the best fit for me. Really the whole shock A&M being in Texas and being in the SEC had really got to me. That was honestly one of the only offers I had been waiting on. It was a huge shock to me. I guess I kind of jumped to conclusion with it. The hardest part of the recruiting process was the ending. After de-committing from A&M whether I was going to Oklahoma or UT. I’m about 35 minutes away from the University of Texas. I’m close with the coaches and a lot of the players that are going there. Really having to choose what was best for me and my family was probably the hardest decision.
Did you grow up in a Longhorns’ family being that close to Austin?
Not in particular. My family is a military family, so we move around a lot. We came back towards this area, the Killeen and Fort Hood area. When you go in stores and you look around, you always see a Longhorn. As you get up towards Dallas, you start to see more Sooners. I’ve really watched the rivalry every year as it builds. Different stars come out of that game. It’s a big focal point in my recruiting.
You mentioned being a military family. Where have you lived and what is your favorite place?
I was initially born in Washington D.C. I think my favorite place was probably Killeen, Texas. I lived there for a very long time, up in Fort Hood. It’s a booming city. We left there right as it started to boom to the point where it is right now. That’s probably my favorite place. San Antonio is pretty nice as well.
What are you looking forward to most next year?
Being able to make an impact immediate, having a chance to make an impact immediately and, by God’s grace, be able to do what I’ve done to this point: Just be able to come out there and help my team do what we need to do.
It seems like you’ll play linebacker here at Oklahoma, how much did you play standing up in high school?
It was probably about 60-40, standing up. A lot of the teams that we played were kind of more running teams, so I’d have my hand in the dirt. For the most part, I switched between both of them.
Have you picked a major yet?
I want to double major in international business and finance.
That’s pretty specific. What draws you to that?
I’ve always been a big numbers guy. My teachers called me a math genius. I’ve always been interested in making money and investing in money, looking at stocks and different things like that, reading multiple financing and investing books. I’m really interest the whole business sector.
Which assistant coach had the most influence on you attending Oklahoma?
Probably coach Diron Reynolds throughout the whole thing. Bob Stoops: I really had a personal connection with him, especially since through my recruiting process my recruiter kept on leaving. It was kind of weird. I initially had Bobby Jack Wright, he retired. Then, I had coach Montgomery as my primary caretaker, then he went to the Packers. Then, coach Diron Reynolds and having him leave again. Coach Stoops really stepped in a lot.
So, you feel cursed?
It keeps me well-balanced.
Away from football, what are you most excited about as far as OU is concerned?
Just being able to really come in and be a student and dig into my studies for the most part. When you’re in high school, there are so many people who come in contact with you and are pulling and digging at your attention. Being able to settle down and really find myself and find my identity when I get up there is what I’m looking forward to.
You’ve mentioned a couple schools already, but where do you think you would have ended up if you didn’t come to Oklahoma?
I probably would have ended up at the University of Texas. They have a great business school. The proximity to home was convenient for my mother. She had a huge affect on my decisions. Familiarly with the coaches: My parents really liked them as well. I felt really comfortable around them. It probably would have been UT.