McDonogh DE Allen Jackson picks ACC school
Allen Jackson had no interest whatsoever in getting caught up in a protracted recruiting process.
So the McDonogh defensive end set a self-imposed deadline for making his college choice.
“I didn’t want to wait it out,” Jackson said. “I knew my birthday -- August 4th -- was my cutoff. It was the last day I wanted to be thinking about college. I just wanted to decide and play my senior year and … just enjoy it like a regular high school senior.”
On Saturday afternoon, Jackson beat his deadline by more than four months by committing to Duke during an unofficial visit to Durham, N.C. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound junior picked the Blue Devils over offers from Maryland, Rutgers, Vanderbilt and West Virginia.
The commitment, Jackson said, felt like “the right decision to make” for a variety of reasons.
“Definitely the value of a Duke degree [was a major factor],” Jackson said. “The first day I got there, I talked to [Duke coach David Cutcliffe]. He seemed like a great, genuine person who definitely has plans for taking the program to the greatest heights. And that definitely caught my eye and put them up high on my list.”
The recruiting process started for Jackson the summer before his junior year when he landed a scholarship offer from Maryland. His stock rose after he recorded 87 tackles, nine sacks, four blocked punts and two forced fumbles for the Eagles last fall.
When the Blue Devils offered a scholarship to Jackson two months ago, he wasn’t quite sure what to think.
“I actually knew Duke as more of a basketball school,” Jackson said. “Football wasn’t particularly as strong. … Once I met Coach Cutcliffe, and all the staff that he put in place and the system that he put in place, I know for a fact that this year and the coming years Duke is going to win some ball games and put itself on the map.”
Jackson said the Blue Devils and Scarlet Knights were the front-runners heading into his visit to Durham, but he had no intention of committing at that time. Over the course of the weekend, however, Jackson softened on that stance. The Eagles standout sat in on player meetings, talked extensively with Cutcliffe and Duke defensive line coach Rick Petri, toured the campus and spent ample time at the football facilities.
Before Duke’s spring game kicked off Saturday, Jackson pulled Cutcliffe aside and delivered the good news.
“He was ecstatic,” Jackson said. “He said he was the happiest man in Durham.”
The response to Jackson’s Duke commitment among his friends and teachers at McDonogh has been almost unanimously supportive and complimentary. The lone exception might have been fellow Eagles defensive end Roman Braglio, a Maryland pledge who had hoped Jackson would join him in College Park.
“Right now, we’re not at each other’s throats. We’ll see,” Jackson said with a laugh.
For now, Jackson’s just excited to have beaten his commitment deadline by finding the right school for him.
“That whole day, I said the words ‘I committed,’ but it hasn’t really quite sunk in,” Jackson said. “It was really nice having all the staff congratulating me. The feeling was a great feeling to have. … [Now] I’m definitely just going to work out, going to lift, and do my best so that Duke football is at its best.”