Jackson Staying Close To Home

College of Canyons (Calif.) star defensive end and former Van Nuys (Calif.) Birmingham standout Marquis Jackson will be staying close to home for his college football, committing to UCLA on Wednesday...

The first time we talked to Marquis Jackson it was in January of 2007, fresh off his junior year at Van Nuys (Calif.) Birmingham, at the U.S. Army All-American Combine.

Jackson said then UCLA was his favorite school. After not qualifying academically out of high school, and only getting to take one official visit, to Fresno State, Jackson had to go to College of the Canyons, where he continued the success he enjoyed at Birmingham last fall.

That led to more scholarship offers, including from LSU, Kentucky, Arizona State, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington, and then the hometown Bruins.

On Wednesday, Jackson was on the UCLA campus and told Bruin coach Rick Neuheisel that he wanted to join UCLA.

"I committed to UCLA today," said Jackson. "It's a blessing and it's humbling. I have so many thoughts and feelings, it's crazy. There is a sense of accomplishment in a sense. In high school, I didn't get that chance to commit somewhere. I knew I had to get the work done. And now I have with this commitment."

Jackson committed to Neuheisel and defensive line coach Todd Howard, who recruited him in high school. Two former Birmingham teammates, Milton Knox and Donovan Carter were in the room, along with Jackson's mother.

"My mom had some tears and Milton and Donovan were in the room when I committed and there were hugs and congratulations going around," said Jackson. "We said let's pick up where we left off in high school."

Absent from the room was Jackson's twin, Malik, who's a sophomore at USC.

"Malik, first he congratulated me and was happy for me," said Jackson. "But then he started to talk a little mess. We are starting that rivalry. He said good luck and congrats, and we're going to beat you guys."

For Jackson, making the choice before his sophomore season at Canyons was important.

"It's a big weight off my shoulders," said Jackson. "When I first got these offers, I didn't know where I wanted to go. Then UCLA came along and it became one less thing to worry about. It's really a great feeling and sense of accomplishment."

Jackson said he should be done with his A.A. in December and be able to enroll at UCLA in time for spring ball.

He's currently standing at 6-4, 235, but hopes to be at 250 when he enrolls.

In 2008 at Canyons, Jackson earned All-Conference, All-State and State Defensive Player of the Year honors, as he recorded 60 tackles, 10.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles-for-loss.

As a 2007 senior at Birmingham, he helped lead one of the finest teams in City Section history to their second straight City title, and was an all-city selection. Jackson recorded 87 tackles, and was the second-leading sack leader with nine. He also had five pass deflections and led the Patriots with three fumble recoveries.

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