The star defensive back on the high school football team that won last year’s state championship in Georgia’s largest classification is headed to the Big Ten.
Brookwood defensive back Zach Jackson committed to Illinois over Mississippi State, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt and Purdue, among others. Jackson, who is considered one of the state’s most underrated college football prospects, also had serious interest from other big-name suitors.
Jackson has a family pipeline to Illinois: His cousin, former Woodstock High School standout Evan Wilson, earned some Freshman All-America honors after starting 11 games at tight end for Illinois last season.
“When I visited Illinois about two weeks ago, the first thing that stood out to me was the campus; it was beautiful,” Jackson told the AJC. “I got a chance to sit down with the football coaches and the academic people, and I really liked what they had to offer. Academics is actually the No. 1 thing to me because at the end of the day it’s all about getting that degree.
“I really liked the facilities and the plans that coach [Ron Zook] has for me as a football player. If I continue to work hard, I have a strong chance of going in there and playing as a freshman.
“All those things played into it, along with having my cousin Evan up there. That didn’t sway my decision. But he told me a lot of neat things about the school and that helped me get a better perspective of everything.”
Jackson was leaning toward Michigan State, which has a pipeline of players to Brookwood High School. WR-DB AJ Sims signed with Michigan State last February, and Brookwood senior RB Nick Tompkins committed to the Spartans earlier this summer.
“I was waiting on Michigan State to see what they were going to do with an offer,” Jackson said. “They seemed very interested, but they are waiting to see what some 5-star recruits are going to do. Illinois wanted me the whole time, and they weren’t really concerned where I was ranked or things like that. That really swayed my decision into committing there.”
Jackson said he also had strong flirtations with Georgia Tech until he was told they were looking at another safety prospect.
The 6-foot, 185-pound Jackson said he has a 3.0 GPA and plans to major in Biology or Sports Medicine.
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– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog Got a recruiting item? email@example.com
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