Jackson Says Rutgers is "Special"

Four-star outside linebacker Branden Jackson of McKeesport (Pa.) High already had a high level of respect for Rutgers, and that was only enhanced during his official visit over the weekend. Jackson called the school "special" and said it "fit" him well. Find out what else the astute 6-foot-4, 225-pound Jackson had to say about his visit.

Branden Jackson already had a good feeling from his last visit to Rutgers, and Scout.com's No. 8-rated outside linebacker's official trip to New Jersey did nothing to change it.

It also enhanced what the 6-foot-4, 225-pound four-star from McKeesport (Pa.) High thought after he camped with the Scarlet Knights in June.

"I got the same exact feeling from when I was at camp, but this just a little bit more because I got to interact with the players," Jackson said. "That was fun. Everything was still the same, family-based and things like that.

"I come away from it feeling good about it. That school is special. I fit in real nice there."

Jackson has always talked about Rutgers' F.A.M.I.L.Y. approach, and despite it being a game week, he was able to bond with the coaching staff and players.

He and McKeesport High teammate Delvon Simmons, a two-way lineman, were hosted Friday night by cornerback Brandon Bing, and Saturday night by defensive tackle Eric LeGrand and defensive back Duron Harmon.

"It's the family atmosphere, the players and the coaches," Jackson said. "I fit in. It's just a real good school. It's not too much of a change of what I've been through. I don't feel like I'd have to adjust. The way they do stuff is kind of the way they do stuff at my school.

"Their coach (Greg Schiano) is a real cool dude. He reminds me of my (former) coach at (McKeesport). They're similar."

Rutgers' 17-13 loss to North Carolina didn't dampen the visit.

In fact, it brought an interesting element into play, one in which Jackson said the Scarlet Knights shined in.

"You get to see everyone's true colors whether they win or lose, and you get to see what everyone is like," Jackson said. "It's not like I want them to lose, but I think you see more when they lose. Everything is happy-go-lucky and smiles when you win, but when you lose you get to see the character.

"They worked hard. They had chances up until the last second but they lost. But they're still good people at the end of the day. I learned they take pride in being good people. You never hear about Rutgers being in trouble, and that shows a lot. It shows me they are being accountable, and that is what our coach, coach (Jim) Ward, does as well."

In addition to the football, academic meetings and discussions with the coaching staff, there was time for play as Jackson and Simmons were taken bowling and to shoot pool.

"Delvon beat me (at bowling), but I throw a curve ball," Jackson said. "I was struggling with my curve ball. I was throwing it out too far. I finished with a 150-something. But he was on my team when we played pool, and I was carrying the team."

The trip was also Jackson's second in as many weeks. He was at Texas Tech last weekend, and didn't want to compare the schools, but now does not plan on making any more trips until December.

"That was my last (in-season) visit," Jackson said. "Now I'm going to focus on my regular season."

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