JoePa Very Interested in DB

This hard-hitting defensive-back/wide-receiver prospect has several scholarship offers. He also has piqued the interest of Penn State head coach Joe Paterno. How interested are both parties?

Name: Jonathan Jackson
Position: DB, WR
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 185 pounds
Self reported 40-yard dash:


School: West Philadelphia Catholic HS, Philadelphia, PA

Jonathan Jackson was instrumental in helping West Catholic to a 9-4 record, advancing all the way to the Catholic League championship before losing to Archbishop Carroll, 22-7.

Jonathan played wide-receiver and free safety.  Colleges are looking at him to play either free safety, corner or wide-receiver at the next level.

"He had 19 catches for 415 yards and 7 touchdowns this year," West Catholic head coach Brian Fluck said of his star player.  "He also had 18 carries for 135 yards and 3 touchdowns.  On defense, he finished up with 92 total tackles, 73 were solos.  He had 3 sacks, 5 interceptions and 18 pass breakups.

"Jon has great instincts around the ball. He's always flying to the ball.  That's why we put him in the middle of the field at the free safety position for us.  He's a big-time hitter for us coming from that safety position.  We call him the eraser because he erases any mistakes that are made upfront.

"On the offensive side he's a game-breaker for us."

Jonathan prefers to play on the defensive side of the ball.

"I like to hit, but it doesn't matter as long as I get on the field," Jackson said.

He has already scheduled four of his five official visits.

"I just came back from Minnesota and my next visit is to Syracuse this weekend.  I have Wisconsin after that (12/20) and then I have Iowa in January (17th).

"For the last one, I'm picking between Penn State and Wake Forest."

With the exception of Penn State, all have offered Jonathan a scholarship.  He also acknowledged offers from Michigan State, Pitt and Maryland to name a few.

The Nittany Lions are seriously considering offering the hard hitter.

"They don't have that many scholarships to give out so they are playing it carefully and just getting the important people they need.  I guess they need to talk it over among all the coaches on the staff."

The Penn State coaching staff is hoping for an official visit from Jackson.

"I wanted to go to Wake Forest and Penn State wasn't in the picture.  Penn State didn't get in touch with me until about 2 weeks ago.  I was waiting for Wake Forest to get back to me, but they haven't.

"I'm trying to get in touch with them and hopefully I do get in touch with them.  That was the deal.  I was supposed to go to Wake Forest on an official visit.

"But, Penn State came in and they said 'we could really use somebody like you'.  So, if I don't get in touch with Wake Forest, I can go to Penn State for a visit.

"Penn State has always been a good school, good academics, good football team and kind of close to me too."

The last time Jackson hearf from Wake Forest was about 2 or 3 weeks ago.  Jonathan has heard from Penn State four or five times in the last couple of weeks.

"I actually went to see Coach [Joe] Paterno the other day, last Thursday.  I spoke with him and a couple of the other coaches.  I went up with my head coach.

"It was an unofficial visit.  We just went up to look at the school and see as much as possible.  We saw the weight room, the facilities, looked at the academics, it was a good place to be for the moment."

"[Joe Paterno] said I was a good player and they are looking for someone like me, but he has to wait for all the coaches to get back and have that big meeting on who's what because there's another player in Texas that is similar to me and he has to talk with all the other coaches and make sure he's making the right decision.

"They said they need a big-time wide-receiver and a big-time d-back and I can fill either pair of shoes.

"That was my second time there.  The first time was for the states my junior year, for track, the 60 meters."

Jackson, who is very mellow off the field, described the Minnesota visit as "nice".  Does he has a favorite?

"I couldn't even say I have a favorite.  All these colleges sound the same.  Most of them have good academics, they have a good football team, good facilities, but other than that, I can't really go on anything else.

"That's why these official visits are important, to see how I would be able to adjust to the lifestyle there, if I could deal with the coaches, if I could get along with the players, that type of thing."

According to Coach Fluck, Ron Vanderlinden is recruiting Jonathan for Penn State.

"He was here in May and June," Fluck said.  "Then they came in about 3 weeks ago.  They apologized for not getting out and recruiting earlier.  They're really high on Jon.  He saw his highlight film for his senior year, Coach Paterno watched that.

"They really like him a lot.  They just had to wait until all the coaches came back from recruiting trips to make a final decision about scholarships.  Coach Paterno really likes him a lot and it looks like they are going to offer him.

"They said they have 13 scholarships and they have a kid they're looking at in Texas similar to Jon and Coach Paterno never saw him on film.  He saw Jon on film a ton and he likes Jon a lot, but he just wanted to give the common courtesy to their recruiting guy in Texas to make sure that they cover all their ends before they offer Jon.

"Brian Norwood came in and talked to Jon last week.

"They said they're only going after one or two [defensive backs].  They want to bring in one corner and one free safety.  They said if the kid can do both, then they'll just use one scholarship.

"There's Jon and the kid from Texas and Coach Paterno really likes Jon.  All the coaches are actually meeting today (Monday) I believe and tomorrow to make sure all the recruiting stuff is done so that they can start offering their scholarships."

Jonathan will retake the SAT in January with hopes of obtaining a qualifying score.

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