The secret is finally out

InsideTennessee provides you with the best Tennessee Vols coverage around. Scroll down to read about their newest commit, Dylan Jackson.

Dylan Jackson was perched on the edge of his seat behind the north end zone, his gaze jetting up and down the Neyland Stadium grandstands as a stiff October breeze – one that cries for football season – swirled about.

He saw floods of orange and patches of gray, jerseys and face paint, waiving pom poms and pacing fans.

What did he hear?

Other than verse after verse of Rocky Top, nothing.

The Scout three-star will never forget the day.

"I just, that atmosphere, wow," the newsiest Tennessee commit recalled. "It was so loud – crazy loud. Just unbelievable."

That day, the Vols and their newly unveiled Smokey Gray uniforms battled then-No. 6 Georgia, falling in a heart-breaking overtime loss.

That day, Jackson left Knoxville knowing he'd be playing his college football at Tennessee.

"At the Georgia game, I knew I was home," Jackson told InsideTennessee. "That's when I made the decision I wanted to go to Tennessee."

But Jackson's decision stayed secret till last Thursday, when he took to twitter to announce his decision to join Tennessee's 2015 class.

Just a day after that unforgettable evening in Neyland Stadium, Jackson approached Maryville (Tenn.) High School coach George Quarles with the news.

"I told coach Quarles that I was going to play at Tennessee," Jackson said. "But I told him I didn't want to announce the decision till after the season was over. I stayed true to that because I didn't want to take anything away from our season and our goal of winning a state championship."

With that goal accomplished – as Maryville breezed to an unbeaten season to claim the program's 14th state crown with a win over Hendersonville in the TSSAA Class 6A state championship – Jackson feels calmed to finally announce his college plans.

The 6-foot-6, 235-pounder called Tennessee coach Butch Jones Thursday to break the news and it was greeted with cheers, excitement and the message, "Welcome to the Vol family."

"I'm relieved that it's over. It was a fun process, but I'm happy where I'm at," Jackson told IT. "I couldn't be more excited for the future."

While Jackson cites that Georgia game as his calling to play for the Vols, he knows there's more to Tennessee than a eye-opening game day atmosphere.

"One, It's close to home. Two, they got a good medical program which is what I'd like to get into. Three, the coaching staff. Four, the facilities are amazing and, finally, you have that atmosphere," Jackson told IT. "Obviously, the fan base is just unbelievable. The atmosphere there is second to none. I'm just very excited."

Jackson grins when imagining his future suiting up in orange and white, but he's not about to get ahead of himself.

Jackson's primary goal is to bring yet another state crown to Maryville.

"This offseason, I just want to work to get closer to the main goal of winning another state championship here at Maryville," Jackson said. "But, I also want to get bigger and stronger to get ready for Tennessee."

This offseason could go a long way in determining Jackson's future on Rocky Top.

Jackson plays mostly defensive end, but dabbles at offensive tackle. There has been speculation that Tennessee sees the local product playing on the offensive side of the ball, but at 235 pounds, Jackson would need to gain lots of weight.

Either way, Jackson is simply excited to join the Tennessee football family, whether that be on the offensive or defensive side of the ball.

"I really have no preference," Jackson said. "Right now, I see myself as a defensive end and I think that's what the coaches think right now. It really depends how much I grow. That's their decision and I'm fine with whatever it is. Where ever they need me, I'm happy."


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