“I really never wanted to go to JSU. I just went up there, had a good time, got caught in the moment and committed,” Jackson said. “Then, I thought about the decision and it wasn’t really what I wanted to do. I called them and decommitted the next day.”
The 6-foot-1, 308-pounder chose to side with the Blazers after contingents from both schools, including Gamecocks head coach Jack Crowe and Blazers head coach Neil Callaway, visited Piedmont’s campus Friday in an attempt to secure his services.
Jackson was a first-team selection to the Alabama Sports Writers Association Class 3A all-state squad the past two seasons. He had a monster senior season with 77 tackles, including 17 for loss and 12 sacks. He visited JSU along with teammate athlete Jamaal Johnson the weekend of January 7th.
Johnson, also a first-team all-state choice, committed to the Gamecocks first and Jackson followed suit.
“That’s what hit me for real,” Jackson said. “I wanted to play with my teammate. I saw him commit and it felt like the right thing to do. But it wasn’t.”
Johnson also holds an offer from UAB, though he remains solid in his pledge the Gamecocks. After committing to JSU, Piedmont coach Steve Smith said, the 6-foot-2, 195-pounder cancelled scheduled trips to Birmingham and Memphis once he left Jacksonville.
Once Jackson signs, he’ll be the second Piedmont Bulldog to side with a Football Bowl Subdivision school in as many seasons. Offensive lineman Seth Reedy signed with Conference USA foe Southern Miss. a year ago.
“Mickey’s such a good-hearted kid,” Smith said. “It’s hard for him to tell anyone, ‘No’. This morning, he came in and told me he was confident that he was going to UAB. From a coaching standpoint you try not to tell them what they need to do. You’re just supportive.”
Jackson had nearly a half-dozen offers from FBS schools including Memphis, Southern Miss., Louisiana Tech and Houston. Ultimately, he said, it came down to Louisiana Tech and UAB.
He chose the Blazers based on the trustworthy relationship he’s built with Callaway and his staff. He also liked the fact that Birmingham is far enough for him to be on his own yet close enough to get back home when he wants, he said.
“It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made in my life,” Jackson said.
When asked if there was any chance he might change his mind again before Wednesday, Jackson was certain.
“No, that’s set right there,” he said.