For months, the four-star pass rusher fixated on two teams.
Kenyatta Jackson Jr. couldn't get either out of his head: Ohio State and Oklahoma. Jackson Jr. and his family built strong relationships with Ryan Day and OSU defensive line coach Larry Johnson. Likewise with Lincoln Riley and Oklahoma outside linebackers/defensive ends coach Jamar Cain. He didn't want to upset either.
Then his father, Kenyatta Jackson Sr., reminded his son that he could only pick one of the two schools he was so heavily considering. So he passed along his best piece of advice.
“Go with your gut, man,” the elder Jackson told his son this fall.
On Tuesday, Jackson Jr.'s gut told him to pick Ohio State, as the Florida resident became the 15th Buckeyes commitment in the 2022 class and the first defensive lineman.
It will surprise absolutely nobody that Johnson was a big selling point to the Jackson family, but just because you've heard it a lot doesn't make that narrative any less true.
“You have the best defensive line coach in the country,” Jackson Sr. said of Johnson in July. “He produces more defensive linemen to the NFL than any other. But most of all, everything is authentic from the head coach to the defensive line coach ... Every time we get around him, it’s something about coach Larry Johnson. He has heavy wisdom, we love everything about him. He’s a great mentor and authentic model for recruits. I can trust my son with coach Larry Johnson from afar if my son decides to go to Ohio State.”
On The Field
Rushing the passer is Jackson Jr.'s bread and butter. The stats don't lie, and they prove the Chaminade-Madonna Prep (Hollywood, Florida) standout can flat out get after the quarterback. In his first three seasons playing for one of South Florida's top high schools, Jackson Jr. racked up 20 sacks. In his second game of his senior season against Western, the edge rusher made a statement with a four-sack game.
Jackson Jr. often lines up on the edge standing up in a 3-4 scheme for Chaminade-Madonna Prep. At Ohio State, he’ll be a defensive end in the Buckeyes’ four-man front. Standing at 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, Jackson Jr. is going to need to add weight when he gets on campus, but he already has no problem getting around offensive tackles with more size than him from either inside or outside rushing lanes, mostly thanks to his speed and pass-rushing moves.
As displayed from his film above, he has no problem chasing down quarterbacks to the sidelines of the field or maneuvering his way through multiple blockers to make a play. His aggressive tackling and sheer strength with his hands has led to plenty of prep ballcarriers fumbling when matched up against him. He's done a fine job stopping the run in high school, but will need to continue to improve as a run stopper at the next level. Jackson Jr. has also shown a willingness to contribute on special teams and has recorded a field goal block.
The early playing time Jack Sawyer and J.T. Tuimoloau are receiving this year as true freshmen shows that Jackson Jr. will have a chance to earn playing time as soon as he arrives on campus, though Sawyer has about 15 pounds on Jackson Jr. at the moment and Tuimoloau has about 40. However, Jackson Jr.'s 6-foot-5 frame would indicate there's plenty of room to add muscle.
In The Class
Even though Ohio State’s 2022 recruiting class is no longer the top-ranked class it once was (to be fair, it's hard to maintain that status when the No. 1 overall prospect reclassifies), the addition of Jackson Jr. gives OSU seven of the class’ top 100 overall prospects.
Jackson becomes the 14th four-star prospect in what is now a 15-man class for the Buckeyes. The lone exception is linebacker C.J. Hicks, who is a five-star prospect. Per 247Sports' composite rankings, Jackson Jr. is the 78th-best prospect and the seventh-best edge defender in the 2022 class.
|LB||C.J. HICKS||★★★★★||#17 NATL | #2 LB||6-3 | 215||Archbishop Alter (Dayton, OH)|
|CB||TERRANCE BROOKS||★★★★||#38 NATL | #9 CB||5-11 | 190||Little Elm (Little Elm, TX)|
|WR||CALEB BURTON||★★★★||#40 NATL | #4 WR||6-0 | 165||Lake Travis (Austin, TX)|
|LB||GABE POWERS||★★★★||#46 NATL | #5 LB||6-4 | 230||Marysville (Marysville, OH)|
|WR||KALEB BROWN||★★★★||#67 NATL | #8 WR||5-11 | 177||St. Rita (Chicago, IL)|
|DE||KENYATTA JACKSON||★★★★||#78 NATL | #7 Edge||6-5 | 235||Chaminade-Madonna Prep (Hollywood, FL)|
|WR||KYION GRAYES||★★★★||#99 NATL | #13 WR||6-0 | 175||Chandler (Chandler, AZ)|
|WR||KOJO ANTWI||★★★★||#127 NATL | #18 WR||6-0 | 190||Lambert (Suwanee, GA)|
|CB||JYAIRE BROWN||★★★★||#132 NATL | #16 CB||6-0 | 178||Lakota West (West Chester, OH)|
|OT||TEGRA TSHABOLA||★★★★||#181 NATL | #18 OT||6-6 | 350||Lakota West (West Chester, OH)|
|RB||DALLAN HAYDEN||★★★★||#274 NATL | #26 RB||5-11 | 195||Christian Brothers (Memphis, TN)|
|OT||GEORGE FITZPATRICK||★★★★||#319 NATL | #28 OT||6-6 | 285||Cherry Creek (Englewood, CO)|
|ATH||KYE STOKES||★★★★||#341 NATL | #20 ATH||6-2 | 185||Armwood (Seffner, FL)|
|TE||BENNETT CHRISTIAN||★★★★||#347 NATL | #14 TE||6-6 | 235||Allatoona (Acworth, GA)|
|CB||RYAN TURNER||★★★★||#355 NATL | #34 CB||6-0 | 180||Chaminade-Madonna Prep (Hollywood, FL)|
|Prospect Rating Data: 247Sports|
Jackson Jr. is the first defensive lineman to commit to OSU this cycle, and the Buckeyes are nowhere near finished with that position. They could still try to add as many as four more defensive linemen in the class. Top targets to complement Jackson Jr. on the defensive line include Omari Abor, Shemar Stewart, Enai White, Marvin Jones Jr., Caden Curry, Hero Kanu, Chris McClellan and Christen Miller.
Along with Oklahoma, Ohio State beat out the likes of Alabama, Clemson, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame, Oregon, Penn State and Texas A&M to land Jackson Jr., who had 34 Division I offers.