Rutgers aims to become bigger, stronger and faster with the Big Ten fast approaching, and the offensive line is no different.
Coach Kyle Flood got a boost on the offensive line Saturday with the commitment of Media (Pa.) Penncrest guard Jonah Jackson, and he brings the trifecta, said Penncrest coach Rick Stroup. On top of that, Jackson brings a nasty edge as a competitor.
"He gets after it," Stroup said. "I mean, he really gets after it. I guess you could say he's a feisty guy. Even when he was a freshman, he wouldn't back down against the older kids. He's a pretty tough kid, and he's on you every play."
Jackson checks in at 6-foot-4, 275 pounds but should be above 300 before he takes the field at Rutgers, Stroup said.
"It's a great opportunity for him," he said. "They're going into a new league, and it should be really exciting for him. He can definitely put on 20 or 30 pounds, and he's going to a place with great facilities that can get him what he needs.
"I know Rutgers was really high on him. Personally, I thought it was a little early for him to make that decision, but his mom and dad went with him and they all obviously seem pretty excited."
Jackson will play multiple positions for Penncrest, but is being told guard is his college position at Rutgers. Improvement will be needed across the board, Stroup said, before Jackson is ready to start at the Big Ten level.
"He has to keep getting stronger," he said. "He's going to have to keep working hard there, and also his footwork. Mentally, it's just going to be about him learning the schemes. He has to do what he's doing now, but at a college level. Obviously, Rutgers has the facilities to provide him every opportunity to get better."
In the eyes of his head coach, Jackson brings the ideal Rutgers mentality on the field and in the classroom.
"He's a smart kid and he's a hard worker," Stroup said. "He's very athletic, and he's in a position now where he's developed a lot already both physically and academically. He's gotten better every year in high school. He was always a big kid, but he was immature as a ninth grader and worked very hard since then. His flexibility has improved a lot.
"He's doing a great job in the classroom, and he's a great kid. We have a very good relationship and so does he with all of his teammates. He's a funny guy. He's not totally serious all of the time. He has a good sense of humor, and he does a really good job."