TJ Jackson going to play football at Virginia Tech! Feeling Duke Pride! Go, Hokies! pic.twitter.com/RHgyFwApGF— Cumberland Schools (@CuCPS) December 15, 2015
Talk about your off-board commitments, ladies and gents. This one was completely out of the blue. Right now? Jackson was listed as an NR on Rivals as early as this morning (salutary 3 star instantly, and Hopple still can't get love? Ridiculous...), not rated on 247, not rated on ESPN, and not even listed on Scout. TJ Jackson holds scholarship offers from NC State, VMI, and Norfolk State (one article claimed he had a UVA offer, but that information could be outdated). But on 247, Jackson is listed as being recruited by Zohn Burden and Vance Vice, which is interesting since Vice just arrived. That was quick. I know he's held a scholarship since before, but he kind of committed from left field to add to our offensive line class. And boy, is he a project- a BIG project, but more so in size than in technique...which, well, definitely needs work. Either way, this continues a small string of recruiting success for Coach Fuente and gives promising depth to a position we'd need, tackle. I saw a coach on our Facebook page comment that he'd probably be a good guard with work- I can see that, but do you want a 6'-8" small mountain in your quarterback's immediate downfield view? Not particularly. He's probably going to have to hack it at right tackle at some point. Let's see how he does on tape.
TJ Jackson (Cumberland, VA. 325lbs, 6'-8". Offensive Tackle)
Well, yes. Jackson is a small human mountain. But there are a couple of things he's going to need to work on, and work on them hard. Number one, his stance, even on his highlights, isn't consistent. He's got his butt too high in the air for my tastes, and his first move out of his stance is up instead of out. Second, he's about a quarter to a half second too slow out of that stance, part of that is because he has a delay for coming up rather than firing out. Two, his hand technique is middling- mostly because he gets by on obvious size differential and brute strength. The man is massive, and uses that to his advantage. Three, I can see one visible issue when dealing with him- his highlight film is all him at defensive tackle and at run blocking- usually on much smaller defensive linemen. It looks like his offense is the old single-wing/wishbone look- all running. Which means that we've got almost ZERO idea as to how he would do in space pass-blocking. I think he's athletic enough to learn how to, but it's a huge difference between that and just muscle blocking in the running game to try and gain leverage. Honestly, alongside football? He should take martial arts. Learn karate or something of that nature- it helps with handwork and balance, which are some of the things that he needs refining in.
Jackson is not someone taken for immediate help- and that's fine. We've got a starting lineup and depth chart fairly set for next year on the offensive line. But Vance Vice is taking on a promising but raw prospect. Expect him to be a definite redshirt- but if he takes to coaching, the guy could be Jonathan Ogden's size and shape by the time he's done. Let's see if he has the talent.
Welcome to the class of '16, TJ.
(Note: Sorry to be late on this train, but when recruiting news catches you on the way into work on I-66, well, what can you do?)