Georgia State’s fledgling football program now has its first star.
Quarterback Star Jackson, a much-ballyhooed recruit out of Lake Worth, Fla., signed a financial aid agreement with the Panthers on Thursday. A backup on Alabama’s national championship team, the 6-foot-3, 209-pound signal-caller arrives at the downtown Atlanta university with three years of eligibility remaining. Since Georgia State’s first-year program competes in the Football Championship Subdivision — one level down from the Southeastern Conferences of the world — NCAA transfer rules allow him to be immediately eligible to compete.
“I’m relieved, more relaxed,” Jackson said shortly after Georgia State released the news of transfer late Thursday afternoon. “It’s a great situation.”
Jackson, a four-star prospect who was recruited by virtually every school in the South out of Lake Worth High School, could have transferred almost anywhere. He was asked why he chose State, a program playing its first season of football.
“Well, one, I have a coach in Coach [Anthony] Midget who knows me and is going to be there for me,” Jackson said. “There are some players there I played with, like [running back] Roosevelt Watson. And just the fact that its a new program. I like that its starting from scratch. We both are.”
Jackson never quite lived up to his lofty billing at Alabama. He lost the quarterback competition to starter Greg McElroy and had fallen to No. 3 on the Crimson Tide’s depth chart behind redshirt freshman A.J. McCarron toward the end of last year’s championship season. Alabama has since sent another high-profile prospect into the competition in Phillip Sims.
Jackson appeared in five games as a redshirt freshman. He completed 13 of 18 passes for 113 yards.
“Alabama is always going to be the same to me,” Jackson said. “I have no hard feelings whatsoever. I learned so much while I was there. I will still be rooting for Alabama when I watch them play on TV.”
Of course, he won’t be rooting for the Tide when Georgia State plays them in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 20 this fall.
Meanwhile, Jackson enters a very sensitive situation with the Panthers. They already had three redshirt freshmen quarterbacks on the roster — Drew Little, Kelton Hill and Bo Schlechter — all of whom had been waged in heated competition for the better part of a year. Now comes the new guy.
“I haven’t yet but I’m looking forward to meeting them,” Jackson said. “They’re all younger guys. Hopefully I can teach them some things and learn from them.”
Scout.com rated Jackson No. 11 quarterback in the nation and the No. 70 player in the Southeast coming out of Lake Worth High School. The 2007 U.S. Army All-American had 1,677 yards passing and 13 touchdowns as a senior and finsihed his high school career with more than 3,500 passing yards and 32 touchdowns. Head coach Bill Curry made it clear that Jackson will not be handed the starting job.
“I told him he would have to work hard and earn it,” Curry said. “Star responded exactly the way I would hope. He told me, ‘Coach, I want to do whatever it takes to help you build the program.’”