No. 8 OLB Still Looking Hard at Rutgers

Branden Jackson didn't know much about Rutgers until he camped there in June, and now's No.8-ranked outside linebacker plans on making an official visit to campus. First, though, he has an official trip to Texas Tech planned for this weekend. What is going on with his recruitment? Check inside to get the latest.

It was the relationship between McKeesport (Pa.) High coach Jim Ward and Rutgers special teams coach Robb Smith that caused outside linebacker Branden Jackson to take look at the Scarlet Knights in the spring.

But Jackson's experience at Rutgers' camp in June is the reason's No.8-rated outside linebacker has the Scarlet Knights high on his list.

Jackson is slated to visit Texas Tech this weekend to watch the Red Raiders host Texas, but Ward said Jackson will also make an official visit to Rutgers.

"He's excited to see what Rutgers is like, the living environment and the players and those kinds of things," Ward said. "I know that the one of the big reasons we've got both guys considering Rutgers is (special teams coach) Robb Smith. I've known him for eight years, and he's as good as a guy, as honest as a guy in college football as you're going to find.

"I would have no problem sending my guys to a place like Rutgers knowing Robb's there. I know they're going to be treated fairly and honestly, and all the things I've heard about coach Schiano are along the same lines."

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Jackson has a few handfuls of offers as teams look to use him as a hybrid on the edge of the defense. At Rutgers, he is a guy who could rush the passer and also drop into coverage.

Since the spring Jackson maintained his strong interest in Texas Tech because of his relationships with the coaching staff.

After McKeesport plays Seneca Valley, Jackson will head to Lubbock for his official visit.

"I know that Branden has planned his trip to Texas Tech for a while and I know he really enjoyed his unofficial to Rutgers," Ward said. "That was a place he thought he could see himself going to. I know Branden wants to take multiple visits, maybe up to his five.

"I know Rutgers is very much in the mix, but I don't think he has pared anything down."

Ward added the process could gain clarity after Jackson returns from Texas Tech.

"A lot will be told when he comes back about what he really felt about it," Ward said. "I think all things are pointing toward him being excited about it. He may come back and love it, and he may come back and think something else."

Scarlet Report Top Stories