Vols in Hot Pursuit of Action Jackson

Two years ago Tennessee finished a very close second to USC for the services of standout wide receiver Steve Smith. Now the Vols are back in California and back in the chase for another premier pass catcher.

DeSean Jackson is a 5-foot-11, 170-pound athlete with sprinter's speed and superb skills. A Long Beach Press-Telegram Dream Team selection and currently rated No. 5 nationally at his position by The Insiders, he caught 43 passes for 850 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior. Jackson's size, speed and knack for skying to pull down passes is strikingly similar to Smith.

"I'm pretty fast, I have great hands and I can make people miss," he said. "I'm a hard worker on the football field and I can just get it done. I like to go over the top on people…I can do it all."

Jackson can also do it all on the diamond and uses his sub 4.4 speed to cover a lot of ground in centerfield for the Jackrabbits. He plans to play both sports in college even if he's drafted and signed by a Major League Baseball team.

"I hit .365 last year with 21 stolen bases and a .450 on-base percentage," he said of his junior baseball campaign. "I think I have a future there too.

"If I get drafted by a pro baseball team I will have them pay for me to go to school and then I will play football for that school. If I don't get drafted by the pros I'll sign with a football team and play baseball in college. I plan to sign with a football team in February, then if I do get drafted by a pro team for baseball and they offer me a lot of money, I'll pull out (decommit), but I'll still play football for whatever team I originally signed with — just without a contract. All of the coaches are okay with that. I've got all that straightened out with everyone. I'm a good athlete so I guess they're willing to do whatever it takes to get me."

There's certainly no shortage of teams willing to accommodate Jackson's desire to be a two-sport star. USC has home field advantage and will leverage it's recent success under Pete Carroll to the max. However Tennessee which wasn't even a contender in July has closed ground in recent weeks and is an excellent position to get a visit from the gold coast prospect.

"I'm pretty much open right now because I haven't really decided where I want to go," he stated. "I like Cal, LSU, USC, Arizona and Tennessee right now, but I'm just really wide open right now."

Wide open is what Jackson finds himself on pass routes given his ability to leave defenders in the dust. But he wants to get stronger as a blocker and runner.

"I run good routes," he said. "I have great hands and good speed. I can make things happen after the catch. I want to work on my blocking and staying with my man on run plays. I also want to get stronger and break more tackles."

Jackson is in good hands when it comes to coaching. He is tutored by older brother Byron Jackson who enjoyed a 10-year NFL career as a receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs following a successful stint at San Jose State where he was Jeff Garcia's favorite target.

In a addition to his aforementioned favorites, Jackson is considering Arizona State, Oregon, Pittsburgh and Washington State. He visited LSU unofficially over the summer and went to camp at USC.

"What I'm really looking for in a school is a great football program," he said. "They have to have my major (communications), good academics and a good graduation rate for football players."

Jackson is a quality student with a 3.0 GPA and a score of 1280 on his SAT.

If forced to choose football or baseball, Jackson has no doubts about his preference.

"Football most definitely," he emphatically stated. "I just love it."

Jackson's passion makes the Vols a vibrant contender.


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