Bayonne OLB Jackson To Walk-on at Rutgers

Bayonne (N.J.) High linebacker Jonathan Jackson made an official visit to Rutgers on Friday and by the time he returned home he decided to accept a preferred walk-on position. After the visit and the decision, he spoke to about it.

When Kenny Britt was setting receiving records at Rutgers, Jonathan Jackson remembers the buzz around Bayonne (N.J.) High.

Now, he will follow Britt's collegiate path.

The 6-foot-3, 204-pound Jackson made an official visit to Rutgers on Friday, and he said he accepted an invitation to be a preferred walk-on with the Scarlet Knights.

"They want me to play outside linebacker, the SAM (strong side) spot," Jackson said. "I played a similar position in high school so I'm pretty comfortable with that."

Jackson has the length and athleticism the Scarlet Knights like in their strong side linebacker, who often is used in coverage against a tight end.

He said he was originally approached to walk-on in January when coach Kyle Flood, who was then the offensive line coach, stopped by Bayonne High.

"He said people around him told him to come and check me out, and he did," Jackson said. "I figured if I get the chance, I might as well take it. They told me I was athletic and they see some potential in me."

Jackson said he was being recruited by Division II and Division III schools, had a one-day official visit and met with several members of the coaching staff, including linebacker coach Dave Cohen, defensive line coach Jim Panago, tight ends coach Darnell Dinkins and special teams coordinator Phil Galiano.

"We had breakfast and got to see the players work out and watched them watch film a little bit and then go through a little (training) in the weight room," Jackson said. "We had (academic dean Karl Kirschner) and one of the former players (life skills director Shawn Tucker) spoke to us."

Jackson said he first starting paying close attention to Rutgers when Britt, who set a Big East and Rutgers record for career receptions before leaving for the NFL after his junior season, was playing for the Scarlet Knights.

"I know him just because he went to Bayonne and his father still works in the school," Jackson said. "I know they win and are close to home and they have a great fan base. I paid attention when Kenny Britt was on the team because with him being from Bayonne, everyone used to talk about it."

Jackson played safety and receiver at Bayonne as a sophomore and junior, but he moved to linebacker as a senior while also remaining a part of the offense.

He finished his season with 60 tackles, including seven sacks, and three forced fumbles. He also had eight catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns.

"I like defense a lot more than offense," he said. "It's just being able to hit people and stop people from what they want to do."

As a senior, Jackson was an all-Group IV second-team and all-Hudson County second-team selection as a linebacker.

Jackson said as long as his grades are in order, which he is working diligently to maintain, he is set for Rutgers.

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