Personal Touches

Florida's Joseph Jackson became West Virginia's third football commitment in the Class of 2012 without ever visiting the Mountaineer campus.

That fact alone signals a change in West Virginia's recruiting philosophy under head-coach-in-waiting Dana Holgorsen, who apparently has no qualms about taking commitments from players who haven't seen WVU in person yet. Joseph Jackson certainly didn't have a problem with it either, listing a pair of factors that led him to make his commitment before making a visit.

"I saw how the coaches recruited K.J. Myers, and how they treated him," Jackson said after making the choice. "It was not long after he committed that West Virginia started recruiting me. Recently, after Coach Galloway left, Coach Robert Gillespie took over, and he has become one of my best friends. I can talk with him about anything, and he talks with me in my language.

"The talks we have can be about anything," the thoughtful Jackson continued. "It might be about football one day, or grades the next. We might talk about what we're doing next weekend. With most coaches I didn't get that. But with Coach Gillespie, it did. He told me what West Virginia could do for me, and how they could benefit me, as much as what I could do for them."

The second factor has ties to the first in the form of Myers and a couple of other northern Florida players who also committed to West Virginia.

"K.J. and all of the guys told me what a great campus it is," he said of his research of WVU. "I knew about West Virginia growing up, and watched their games, but I wasn't what you would call a childhood fan. But after they recruited K.J., they started talking to me, and for the last couple of months they have been very close with me.

"I started doing a lot more research on West Virginia after Isaiah Bruce committed there, and I also know Andrew Buie. They all told me good things about West Virginia, so I just didn't see the point of waiting any longer."

Jackson, who had offers from approximately 15 schools, is slotted in as a defensive player, but where he will ultimately land is still unknown.

"I like to call myself a 'defensive athlete', he said with a laugh. "I think my versatility is my biggest strength. I can play cornerback or safety or linebacker. If I gained 30 pounds I could even play defensive end. I love playing defense, and I will do whatever I can to help my team."

Jackson's coaches realize his talents apply at more than one position, and use him in match-up against star offensive players each week.

"Whatever the game plan calls for, I can do," he said confidently. "I can go out and match-up against a wide receiver at cornerback. If they have a great tight end, I can play linebacker and take him on. I just love playing the game, and it doesn't matter to me where I wind up."

That versatility may have hurt Jackson when it came time to make selections for all-area teams. BY playing several different positions, he didn't pile up big numbers at any one spot, and might have gone a bit under the radar in terms of notice from area media. That doesn't bother him, however, as he has achieved his personal goal of earning a college scholarship.

"When you are a junior, that's your time to get noticed by colleges, and I did that," he noted. "Now, it's all about team goals. I want to go 10-0 again, and get to district and state play-offs, and win a state championship. It's all about the team."

Jackson, who plans to major in computer engineering, considered his choice carefully, and decided he was ready to commit even though its still relatively early in the recruiting process. In that, he had the support of his parents, who gave him some lasting advice.

"We talked and prayed about it, and they told me that no matter what anyone else wanted or thought, it was me that had to walk through the doors at West Virginia, and that it was me that had to make the decision. They were very supportive, and wanted me to do what was best."

As a junior, Jackson had 80 tackles, four interceptions, three forced fumbles and two sacks for Space Coast.

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