The Hurry-Up: Former Cincinnati Bengals Offensive Line Coach Paul Alexander Believes Donovan Jackson Will Be “A Special Player”

By Zack Carpenter on August 9, 2020 at 6:30 pm
Paul Alexander

The Hurry-Up is your nightly dose of updates from the Ohio State football recruiting trail, keeping tabs on the latest from commits and targets from around the country.

Jackson impresses former Bengals OL coach

Paul Alexander has coached at Penn State, Michigan and Central Michigan and with the NFL's New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys.

During a 36-year coaching career, Alexander spent the bulk of his time with the Bengals as their offensive line coach from 1994-2017. Alexander coached All-Pros like Andrew Whitworth and Willie Anderson in Cincinnati before one season of coaching Zack Martin, Tyron Smith and Travis Fredrick with the Cowboys.

So he knows a good offensive lineman when he sees one. And he has seen one in Ohio State commit Donovan Jackson, the No. 20 overall player and No. 1 offensive guard in America. 

It was only one weekend this past May, but Alexander had a training session with the 6-foot-4, 310-pound future Buckeye in order to polish up on technique and work on some of the finer points of being an offensive lineman.

Jackson worked beside Episcopal (Texas) High School alum Walker Little, a senior starting left tackle at Stanford who was named a 2018 first-team All-Pac 12 performer and a 2020 preseason All-American after suffering an early season-ending injury in 2019.

Though Alexander only worked with Jackson briefly that weekend, he noticed some impressive talents right away and throughout the training sessions. 

“Donovan shocked me with how talented he is,” Alexander told Eleven Warriors. “Super quick, explosive, strong and smart. He’s going to be a special player.”

It’s not a secret that we think Jackson is going to be a force when he gets to Ohio State, as I believe he has All-American potential and could have as successful of a career as Wyatt Davis before he eventually becomes an NFL draft pick. (After, of course, he was selected No. 6 overall in our esteemed Eleven Warriors Recruit Draft in May.)

Jackson has the type of toughness, fundamentals and football IQ to become exactly what Alexander described – special.

“When I get into a stance, I just read everything. Everything slows down,” Donovan told Eleven Warriors previously. “When the ball is hut – when the play goes – I just see it slow down so much. If I’m double-teaming somebody, I look up and see the linebacker flowing, or I see his eyes shift, I know he’s coming this way. Or if he’s blitzing, I see him looking at me instead of the receiver. Or I see his feet facing me. Or I see him on his toes. The little keys like that, I see it before it happens. That’s why we either audible or do something like that.”

You can check out below some additional thoughts from Alexander via Twitter from his time spent with Jackson:

Spindler chooses Irish

Andrew hit on this earlier today, and this is something that we have continued touching on throughout the week, but four-star Clarkston (Mich.) High School offensive guard Rocco Spindler ultimately chose Notre Dame this weekend, as was the expected pick for a while now.

As we have mentioned, the 2021 cycle is very strong in the state of Michigan, with this class being only the second-ever in the state with five top-80 players. And Jim Harbaugh and Co. only have one commitment from those players (offensive tackle Giovanni El-Hadi) while Damon Payne, Spindler and Garrett Dellinger have all chosen out-of-state programs. 

Seeing all of that talent go to non-Big Ten programs only continues to help Ohio State's dominance in the conference.

Uncertainty abounds

With all of the news coming out on Saturday about whether or not the college football season will be outright canceled or postponed until spring, the NCAA's recruiting dead period seems like it will only continue to persist with no real end in sight.

As so many prospects face major decisions and keep hoping for the best in terms of possibly being able to visit at some point this year, there continues to be uncertainty as to when they will actually be able to visit schools.

It will certainly force programs to get creative in their attempts to show prospects their facilities and campus virtually, and that could go a long way in the recruiting process.

Photo: Isaiah J. Downing – USA TODAY Sports

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