But don’t think he’s a slam dunk to Auburn by any means. Far from it, actually.
Jackson, who is in Montgomery for the Alabama - Mississippi All-Star Game, said Monday USC has recruited him the hardest throughout the process, though Auburn and Ole Miss have “started picking it up.” He sees USC and Ole Miss as the schools that need him the most.
The next month-plus, then, will be spent figuring out the best fit.
“First off, Auburn, that’s right down the street. I grew up an Auburn fan, so the chance to play for them is very exciting,” Jackson said. “They’re a great coaching staff. D-line coach is a very good coach. Defensive coordinator, he’s a great coach, too. They’re like a family there, that’s why their defense is so good. They stick together. Florida, I can’t wait to go down there for my official to get the chance to actually meet the coaches in person, like, altogether. I can sit down with them, talk with them, the players and some of the other players that are coming down for their official, too.
“USC, I had a ball down there. I had a lot of fun down there. They showed me a good time. They met with the parents. We went to the meeting room and talked a little bit. The next day, we went and chilled with the players until it was game time. We went down on the field, soaking in the environment. We eventually got rained out, but still had a great time there. Ole Miss, I went to that Auburn game. They had a great environment out there, too. The fans was always into it. They were losing at one point in time, but I knew that team was going to fight back, which they did. Sad that they ended up giving up the lead. But they still kept their heads up, they still had fun out there.”
Jackson, rated a three-star prospect by Scout.com, took an official visit to USC in November for the Notre Dame game. The 6-foot-5, 270-pound defensive end will trip to Auburn Jan. 13, followed by Florida Jan. 20 and Ole Miss Jan. 27.
He has a lot to consider. Ole Miss was in his home Monday morning, but a few hours before he hit the road to report in Montgomery. The Rebels could certainly use him. Their defense struggled mightily as Ole Miss toiled through a 5-7 season in 2016. Jackson sees opportunity.
“They didn’t have a great season, only because they had a lot of injuries and stuff,” Jackson said. “One of the players, I think No. 9 (Breeland Speaks), he was inconsistent, got a big head. That’s why they did what they had to do. Unfortunately they had a bad season this year because of the injuries. This year they should be pretty good.”
Ole Miss defensive coordinator Dave Wommack retired following the Rebels’ season finale against in-state rival Mississippi State. Jackson said the Ole Miss coaching staff hasn’t really discussed with him who could be a potential replacement, though he’s heard some rumors.
“They haven’t said anything about that,” he said, “but they’ve be saying rumors about (Charlie) Strong. I don’t really know yet until that really happens.”
Jackson’s mother, Teresa Lee, is an Auburn fan. However, Jackson said she isn’t pressuring him to make a commitment to Gus Malzahn and staff.
“Even though she’s an Auburn fan, she’s open up, too,” Jackson said. “Wherever I go, she’s going to be cheering for me and Auburn, so it really doesn’t matter. That takes a lot of weight off me because she’s not pressuring me to go to Auburn or another school I favor. She said it really doesn’t matter. Where you feel happy at, go there. That really made me more comfortable with my decision.”
In the end, Jackson is simply looking for the school where he feels the most comfortable. A member of the recruiting class of 2017, Jackson holds additional offers from, among others, Alabama, LSU, Kentucky and Miami (Fla.).
“Will I click with the players and coaches and some of the people around the football team? And will I get a great education there? Football’s not forever, so I’m trying to get a great education until I make a man of myself and provide for my family in the future.”