The Sentimental Favorite

It's only the second week of January and Kenosha Bradford junior running back Vonte Jackson has secured three Big Ten offers, one of which stands out to him a little more than the other two.

MADISON - Competing everyday against Melvin Gordon, the top senior running back in the state of Wisconsin, Kenosha Bradford junior running back Vonte Jackson would be naïve if he thought seeing the University of Wisconsin recruit every practice was going to be a hindrance.

"Playing someone with that kind of talent and competing against him, it makes me better and I feel I have gotten a lot better from it," Jackson said. "He's a great football player."

Gordon certainly attracted attention after leading the state with 38 rushing touchdowns. Throw in defensive back and Michigan State verbal commit Trae Waynes and plenty of college coaches and assistants packed the stands in southwest Wisconsin, and many of walked away filing Jackson's name away in their memory bank.

Maybe that's why Jackson's latest offer – coming Thursday from Northwestern – has special meaning to him.

"My two offers, Wisconsin and Iowa, I almost felt they offered me because of Melvin or that they offered him first and decided to offer me, too," Jackson told Badger Nation. "I felt like Northwestern in a way is my best (offer) because Melvin didn't get offered by them and I did.

"Every offer I get is great because not only am I doing it for the football part, the academic part is great because I am getting great schooling."

The Wildcats may be an early sentimental favorite, but Jackson is putting in plenty of due diligence with his other two offers. Jackson has camped at Wisconsin and taken several unofficial visits and will visit Iowa next week for the first time. Still, it's hard for him to not notice Wisconsin, which saw all three of its main running backs run for over 996 yards and 13 touchdowns in its championship year.

"They use all of their running backs really well and all three of them had really good playing time and a lot of yards," Jackson said. "It's not like they need one running back."

Sharing the ball and having success is nothing new to Jackson. Teaming with Gordon, Jackson rushed for 956 yards on 70 carries (13.7 yards per carry) with 11 touchdowns and caught 13 passes for 277 yards and four scores.

Jackson helped Kenosha Bradford reach number one in the state, but he missed the sectional semifinal with an ankle injury and was limited to only 10 rushing yards in the team's season-ending loss to Waukesha West in the sectional finals.

"My season was very good when you compare the numbers to me and Melvin last year," Jackson said. "We had around the same exact stats. I just wished I could have finished it off like I would have wanted."

In addition to his three offers, Jackson is receiving early interest from Cincinnati, Illinois, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State, Purdue and Vanderbilt among others. After camping at Michigan State, Ohio State, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin last year, Jackson's plan is a rigorous winter and spring workout schedule and to have a light camp schedule to avoid fatigue and potential injury.

The results have already shown, as Jackson has boosted his weight back up to 178.

"I've in the weight room Monday through Friday, five days a week, and doing speed training three days a week," Jackson. "I am really preparing myself for next year and hopefully had a good season."

With the big shoes Gordon is leaving behind, Jackson won't let the daily competition between the two of them stop.

"He definitely left big shoes to fill and I am excited to see what I can do and compare myself to him," Jackson said.

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