A.J. Jackson out of Lovejoy, Ga., was visited by Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze on Monday.
By: Yancy Proter, OMSpirit.com
“It went real well,” Jackson said of his meeting with the Ole Miss coaches. “I met with coach (Maurice) Harris and coach (Hugh) Freeze. “That was my first time to meet coach Freeze in person. He’s a real cool guy. He met my mother and grandmother and everybody in my family.”
Ole Miss has kept its staff intact the whole way through Jackson’s recruitment while the other colleges have not. What kind of role does might that play when it comes decision time?
“I mean, coach Harris has been there since day one. The other coaches who are recruiting me just got there. They’re trying to get back in there and recruit me to their school. It’s all really about loyalty. Coach Harris has been there since day one recruiting me since my junior year in high school so I’m going to respect that.”
What did the Ole Miss coaches say to the 6′ 5″, 240-pound tight end Monday night?
“They love my size. They basically said I could come in there and play as a freshman. I just have to come in there and put in a lot of hard work. They need a tight end like me. The tight end they had last season was getting in and out of trouble so they need a guy like me that can come in there and be dependable for their program. I’m just excited and looking forward to potentially being that guy right now.”
Jackson sees himself as a player who could help stretch the field for the Ole Miss offense.
“Like coach Freeze told me today, I could run the wind route they love to run so much. It’s a five-and-out route. I can run that and perfect that. I’d be real good at that and the verticals and all of that stuff too. I could create mismatches for the linebackers and small corners and safeties. Coach Freeze just told me everything I could do for their program if I were to come in there.”
The Rebels graduate their top three tight ends from last season. Is early playing time a big part of his decision?
“I’ve been doing it all of my life, really, so I’d hate to be on the sidelines. I’m used to playing. Now I have to get ready for SEC football and step it up and start grinding.”
Ole Miss has spent a lot of time recruiting the Georgia this year, and have actually pulled a few commitments from the state.
“The guys committed to them I’ve been knowing them since this past summer. I feel like it’s another home playing with those guys that I’ve known since last summer and the guys they recruited from Georgia like Robert Nkemdiche, Peyton Barber, Evan Engram, Bobby Hill and all those other guys. I know Peyton Barber pretty good. We’re real cool, and I’ve building a good relationship with Laquon Treadwell. He’s from Illinois but we’ve been talking a lot lately. It’s a good comfort zone for me there with all of the recruits I know.”
The Rebels have been making waves on the recruiting front and that has not gone unnoticed with Jackson.
“It does grab my attention. The other kids they’re recruiting are really good. You have the number one receiver and the number one safety and the number one player in the country coming there so you have to be doing something right. The recruits see they have a bright future. That does grab my attention.”
Jackson will be visiting Ole Miss this weekend and wants to find out about a few things.
“You hear the rumors so I want to find out how they take care of their players and find out how safe it is and learn more about their academics.”
If he learns that Ole Miss does provide a safe environment over the weekend could that put the Rebels in the driver’s seat?
“It probably would really. That’s probably what’s holding Ole Miss back right now. I just want to be safe no matter where I go. Living-wise, I know Florida State is a good place to be, but they said in USA Today that Ole Miss has a very low crime rate. I’m just looking forward to seeing what’s going on up there this weekend.”