Jackson Comes Full Circle

Lakewood (Calif.) Mayfair offensive lineman Darryl Jackson thought he'd be spending his college career in Texas, but as it turns out, he will spend it in his backyard, after signing a grant-in-aid with UCLA on Wednesday...

Lakewood (Calif.) Mayfair offensive tackle Darryl Jackson will get to drive instead of having to fly when he comes home from college.

The one-time SMU signee, who was denied admission into the school despite being an NCAA qualifier, came back home and became a frequent presence on the UCLA campus.

A phone call by some SMU coaches to the UCLA staff gave Jackson an in-road and, after a couple of weeks of discussions, Jackson was offered a grant-in-aid to sign by UCLA.

On Wednesday night, Jackson put pen to paper and will be a Bruin.

"I signed the scholarship grant-in-aid last night and I'll be there in January," said Jackson. "I'll still take two classes but I'm going to grayshirt, and I'll be able to take 5.5 years or so to play my four years. It's amazing how it all works out."

Jackson said he grew up watching UCLA and now he's realizing a dream of playing for them.

"You always grow up here watching UCLA and now I'm going to play there," said Jackson. "It hasn't hit me that I'm about to go there. You have all your friends and family rooting for you. My family is really happy."

Jackson said with a January enrollment he'll have time to adjust before starting spring practice.

"There is a good chance that I'll redshirt next year too so my body can develop more," said Jackson. "Really, my body only developed for one year, so I'll have like two years working out with those guys. It wouldn't hurt me to redshirt. I went from 245 to 305 so now I want to lose that baby fat. Coach Linn said he'll get me good. I want to look like Bruce Campbell."

Jackson has been to numerous practices in the past two weeks, but said he'll take a couple of days to catch his breath before returning to Westwood on Saturday.

"It's been crazy so I'm probably going to the beach today and then I'll be back to the scrimmage on Saturday," said Jackson.

As crazy as it's been, Jackson said he's greatly relieved that everything has been ironed out.

"To be honest, this has been a great experience because it's a learning experience," said Jackson. "I met some great people. Coach Phil Austin at Fullerton College told me he'd get me out of there and I never even played for him. Coach (Adrian) Klemm at SMU was who really helped me. I talked to him a while ago and said 'Thanks for getting me early before I know how good I was,' and he said 'I told you I got a steal.'" He's a great guy with great character. I'm looking forward to playing for Coach (Bob) Palcic and Coach (Rick) Neuheisel."

Jackson said he's enjoyed watching UCLA practice the past two weeks.

"It's great watching UCLA practice, these dudes are catching everything and they have good, young talent," said Jackson. "Kevin Prince is just a sophomore so I told him by the time I'm ready to start you'll be ready to go as a senior and I won't be giving up any sacks. It's good, because guys already want to compete with me. Datone Jones is already talking mess, so I'm excited just to go against him. It's great knowing that there is competition and there are leaders like him and Kai (Maiava) and Eddie (Williams) and they're always hyped."

Jackson said the competition really sticks out to him.

"Competition is key," said Jackson. "The coaches are taking time out to help you and the good thing about UCLA and Coach Neuheisel is he's very good at telling you how to correct yourself without embarrassing you."

The one downside, Jackson admitted, was the campus.

"I figure people who want to walk those hills every day really want to be there," Jackson joked. "Man, after a hard day of workouts it will be a hard day of walking those hills. I hope I end up with calves like Coach Chow."

Jackson also said he's looking forward to following another Mayfair alum, former UCLA star Alterraun Verner.

"Alterraun is worshiped at Mayfair, he's an idol around there," said Jackson. "All of the teachers remember him and they say he is one of the greatest kids ever there."

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