McKeesport (Pa.) High's Jackson Gets RU Offer

Rutgers went south of Pittsburgh to offer a pair of players from McKeesport (Pa.) High in lineman Delvon Simmons and linebacker Branden Jackson. In this update, the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Jackson talks about his knowledge of Rutgers, and whether he wants to play close to home or travel to school. Also, Rutgers has an in with McKeesport. Find out inside what that is, and how it could help.

A coaching change and the inability to get junior highlight film out quickly kept Branden Jackson's recruitment under the radar, but in the last month the McKeesport (Pa.) High defensive end saw his recruitment take off.

Jackson and teammate Delvon Simmons, a defensive tackle and offensive lineman, both hold a half-dozen offers, including the ones they received from Rutgers this week. Both players were told about the Rutgers' offers Wednesday night by coach Jim Ward.

"I don't know too much about Rutgers. I just know they offered me,'' Jackson said. "I believe (a Rutgers assistant) may have been in my school yesterday, but I was home sick and didn't get a chance to talk to him. I'll probably call him today or tomorrow when I get time.''

The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Jackson plays linebacker for McKeesport, but is projected as a defensive end in college.

"I think in college he's going to develop into a 4-3 defensive end,'' Ward said. "He's a long, athletic, very explosive kid, who is right now about 225 pounds, 6-foot-5. He's got a long wing span. His length and his burst, to me, are elite at the high school level. He can go 10 yards in a blip.''

Michigan, West Virginia, Syracuse, North Carolina and Illinois are the other schools to offer.

"I'm wide open,'' Jackson said. "Location isn't a big thing for me. I just want to go play ball. I want to get away and experience things, but if I feel the right place for me is somewhat closer to home, that's a plus.''

One thing that could help Rutgers is the relationship between Ward and Rutgers assistant coach Robb Smith, who recruits McKeesport High. The two met when Smith was an assistant at Maine in 2003, and have stayed in contact since.

"I've always had a tremendous amount of respect for Robb and what he's done, and the type of person that he is,'' Ward said. "Rutgers, in my opinion, has a shot because of Robb Smith. Both of them are as wide open as any kid I've ever seen when it comes to recruiting.

"Branden wants to go away from home. …Branden would be practically willing to play on the west coast if that was the best fit for him.''


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