Nearby is the table of champions and former bracelet winners, the whales if you will, with towering stacks of chips and check bets all around. That small gathering of prestigious players includes three from the SEC — Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee — along with Clemson. Four programs that are all consistently in the top 20 or higher in wins, attendance and recruiting rankings. The programs so many prospects grow up watching on television and dream of playing for. Will one of these so-called college football heavyweights break the log jam by placing a sizable wager? And if one of these well endowed University's does go all in will the others follow?
It wouldn't be much of a risk from a stakes standpoint given the size, skills, speed and experience Jackson brings to the table. He's also an accomplished student, who plays with all out effort on virtually every play. At 6-foot-4, 285 pounds he clocks a 5.00 time in the 40 and a 4.5 shuttle. Did we mention that he is ranked No. 18 at his position by Scout.com.
Scout.com offers this overview: "One of the most technically sound linemen in the nation. Executes all blocks to perfection. Very agile with good knee bend. Devastating run blocker who blocks whistle to whistle. He finishes every block. Gets to the second and third levels and always has a hat on a body. Plays tackle, but likely projects as a guard at the next level. Shows outstanding footwork and pulls well."
Farragut Head Football Coach Eddie Courtney concurs with that appraisal of his prized lineman and added:
"Will is a 6-foot-4, 280-pound offensive lineman. He has very good feet for an offensive lineman. He's got good mobility. We play him at both guard and tackle because of that and we run a spread style offense. We use him a lot in the passing game as far as a screen/draw series. He's got a good demeanor of being a tough type player and I think that's the thing along with his feet that's drawn the attention of schools."
Jackson's versatility is a vital point in his favor and may ultimately be the reason he gets play from the whales.
"That's what I've heard from most people (recruiters and scouts) they like my versatility," Jackson said. "Alabama has specifically said they'd like me to play all three positions. West Virginia has also mentioned they'd like me at tackle, but if that doesn't work out they think I can play anywhere. That's the main thing they like my versatility to play anywhere."
What does Will regard as his strength?
"I believe one of my strengths is my effort," Jackson stated in an April interview with Inside Tennessee. "I go just 110 percent every play. I'm a big believer in getting down field as far as possible to help create a lane. I won't just stop with the guy in front of me, I'll get out on the linebacker and the defensive back. I'm really aggressive. I just want to get out there and make contact; hit somebody."
In addition to his high RPM motor, he has a high GPA and intellect to match.
"I've got a 3.85 GPA and a 24 on my ACT, but I'll be taking that over to get it up," he said almost apologetically. "I was thinking I might want to major in Pre Med. That could change here in the next year of high school but I'm thinking I'd like to be some type of an orthopedic surgeon in my career. So that's probably what I'd be leaning toward."
If there's a question about Jackson it might be his strength (although he reported a respectable 330 bench this spring.) His overall athleticism is another area that might have some hesitant to pull the trigger on an offer. However his straight-line speed and quick feet offer quality compensation.
As things currently stand, Georgia Tech is the leader for Jackson but he has taken many visits throughout the spring and plans to make five official visits this summer in addition to attending several (3 to 5) camps. He was at the Nike Combine on May 3.
As a junior at Farragut he posted a 90 percent blocking grade and led the Admirals in pancake blocks as well as knockdowns. The soon to be four-year starter didn't allow a sack the entire season helping Farragut reached the 5A state quarterfinals for the third straight season.
Jackson's drive to break that barrier and win a state title is so strong he plans to have the recruiting process concluded and a decision rendered sometime between July and September.
If Tennessee is still a player at the end, September at Neyland Stadium would be a perfect place to catch a river card.