'Hoos find hidden gem in Jackson - The Daily Progress: Sports

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

'Hoos find hidden gem in Jackson

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Posted: Sunday, April 21, 2013 9:26 pm

To this point, there are no stars next to J.J. Jackson’s name when you click on his Rivals.com profile.

So exactly what kind of value did Virginia receive Sunday when Jackson became the fourth member of the Cavaliers’ 2014 recruiting class?

Call the outside linebacker/defensive end a hidden gem.

“Well, this was my first year of [high school] football,” said Jackson, a three-star prospect by 247Sports. “It’s not like I’ve been in the game for a long time. This was my first year of football.

“And then they saw my highlights.”

Jackson is a 6-foot-4, 215-pounder out of Woodgrove High School in Purcellville in Loudoun County. He solely played basketball until he was influenced by friend and running back Josh Sweet to give the gridiron a shot last year.

“[Sweet] was like, ‘I don’t know if you’ll start, but you’ll definitely play,’” Jackson recalled.

And he did — to the tune of 13 sacks and over 70 tackles.

Cue the highlight tape. Cue the offers.

Jackson said Old Dominion was the first to reach out with a scholarship offer on March 15. UVa, Hampton, Ohio and Yale would follow suit.

The Wahoos eventually won out.

“The academics of UVa — that overwhelmed me,” said Jackson, who visited Grounds in February and on March 30. “I really loved the business school, the campus. Everything was perfect. It’s a perfect fit for me. I’ll be studying business and financing.

“The football team is awesome. Coach [Mike] London, him and I get along real well. Coach Vincent Brown, the defensive line coach ... I just connect with the whole coaching staff.

“I really felt at home when I was there for both of my visits. ... I feel like I’ll fit perfectly there.”

As a late-comer to the recruiting scene, Jackson has made his pledge 10 months before National Signing Day.

Why the quick trigger?

“Next year, you could roll the dice and — what — end up with a couple SEC offers if they wait on you and stuff like that?,” Jackson said. “I don’t want to take any chances. I just want to go to a school that I like, which is UVa. That’s why. And plus it’s a perfect fit.

“So why wait when the opportunity’s right in front of you?”

Jackson joins five-star safety Quin Blanding, four-star offensive lineman Steven Moss and three-star kicker Gary Wunderlich in the Virginia class. Three-star defensive tackle Chris Nelson de-committed from the Wahoos last week.

Jackson will now play the recruiter role.

“My buddy, Melvin Keihn [four-star linebacker], he goes to Gilman; I’m going to try to get him on board,” Jackson said. “He went to [Virginia] Tech this weekend. I’m going to try to get him. I’m going to tweet at [five-star defensive tackle] Andrew Brown, try to get him on board.”

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