Finding the right fit for your college football program isn't just about what happens on the field, but off it as well. Today, Ohio State added a key piece. How will that commitment impact the Buckeyes?
Ohio State landed a commitment this afternoon from one of the top-rated junior college prospects in the country when Blinn College defensive tackle Antwuan Jackson pledged his services to the Buckeyes a little over two weeks after landing an offer.
Let's take a look at what Jackson — a former four-star prospect transferred from Auburn following his redshirt freshman season — brings to Columbus.
ON THE FIELD
Coming out of Cedar Grove High School in Ellenwood, Georgia, the 6-foot-3, 305-pound Jackson was considered the seventh-best defensive tackle and No. 50 prospect overall in the Class of 2016. He finished his senior season with more than 50 tackles for a loss, which made him one of the most sought-after interior defenders in the country.
Jackson was a four-year starter at the high school level, but he was knocked for his frame when compared to other top defensive tackles that year like Michigan's Rashan Gary. He makes up for that, though, by being very explosive off the ball and aggressive at the point of attack. He uses his leverage very well, is strong enough to overpower offensive linemen and has excellent use of his hands.
One thing that really stands out about Jackson's playing style — at least on tape — is his non-stop motore. He's disruptive, chases the ball through the whistle and plays sideline to sideline better as well as any defensive tackle I've ever seen.
As with any player who redshirts their freshman year, Jackson has plenty of ways in which he can improve. He doesn't have a go-to move and he's often neutralized when double-teamed. Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson will certainly improve that once he gets his hands on him, though.
In two games at Blinn this season, Jackson has 15 tackles and three sacks.
IN THE CLASS
Jackson becomes the 18th member of Ohio State's Supreme '18 recruiting class, and he joins IMG Academy five-star defensive tackle Taron Vincent at the position. It's one of great need, too, with starter Tracy Sprinkle and veteran Michael Hill both set to depart Columbus following the season and
Dre'Mont Jones a candidate to enter the NFL Draft following a breakthrough redshirt sophomore season.
With Vincent and Jackson in the fold, the Buckeyes could potentially add one more defensive tackle this cycle in the form of Idaho four-star Tommy Togiai. He took an official visit for Saturday's game against Oklahoma, and sources close to him tell Eleven Warriors the Buckeyes lead for his services.
With several top targets yet to decide — including three along at defensive end — numbers could be tight as we approach National Signing Day. But, then again, that's certainly a good problem to have.
When Jackson announced his intentions to transfer from Auburn in mid-May, the Tigers blocked him from transferring within the SEC or to Clemson, Georgia Southern, Mercer and Ohio State.
"My question was: Why are they blocking Ohio State for no reason?” Jackson said at the time. “They just put Ohio State on there for no reason. My question to them is why are they blocking me from a Big Ten school when they don’t have anything to do with Big Ten schools? Why didn’t they block me from Michigan or Indiana or any other Big Ten school? Why would they do that immediately?”
It made sense for head coach Gus Malzahn to prohibit Jackson from moving within the conference or to schools the Tigers play this fall — Auburn doesn't want him to share information with an opponent, thus giving them an advantage. But restricting him from becoming a Buckeye without first having to jump through a number of hoops just seemed petty.
Auburn and Ohio State aren't set to play each other anytime soon — unless it happens in a bowl game — so why limit Jackson's opportunity?
Jackson grew very fond of the aforementioned Johnson while going through the process the first time, and he's admitted the Buckeyes were runners-up in his recruitment in 2016. And after a brief detour in Texas this fall, the two will be reunited again.