Over the past year, a number of major college football programs have been vying for the services of Overton’s Theo Jackson.
According to Jackson, though, it was never a contest.
“I picked Tennessee because I grew up loving Tennessee,” said Jackson, who pledged with the Volunteers on June 18. “I actually played for a little league team called the Flatrock Vols, so I grew up in orange.
“Every time I go up there it feels like family and like home. I’ve been with the players so I know what they’re like, and I just get a good vibe when I’m there.”
Jackson, a three-star safety and the state’s 16th-ranked prospect according to 247Sports, comes in at No. 10 on the Dandy Dozen, a list of the top college football prospects in Middle Tennessee as selected by The Tennessean high school sports staff with input from area high school coaches and recruiting services.
Jackson also received offers from Kentucky, LSU, Lousiville and Vanderbilt, among others. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound athlete made a name for himself well before his senior year, but he still feels like he has more to prove.
Like can he be a diverse athlete and also play quarterback for the Bobcats?
He’ll finally get a chance to showcase his arm strength and throwing accuracy this fall. Jackson is also eager to display his leadership abilities — something that was lacking throughout the Bobcats’ 7-5 campaign a season ago.
“Last year we had no leadership, and this season we’re trying to come together more,” said Jackson, who had 33 tackles and three interceptions from his free safety spot last season. “I’m just trying to be a leader this year, and just give them encouragement — little things like hustle and keeping your helmet on — so they’re not walking around with their heads down feeling sorry for themselves.”
Serving as one of the team’s leaders will be a natural fit for Jackson, according to third-year Overton coach Steve Williams.
“Theo’s a quiet leader — he’s not a real vocal guy or a rah-rah guy — but he is what I call an overtimer,” Williams said. “He comes in and just sets an example for everyone with his work ethic. That’s how he leads us, and our guys look up to him.
“He’s a prime example of what hard work can get you. All the offers he received this year are well-deserved and well-earned, and it’s because of the time and effort he has put — not only during the season, but the offseason as well.”
No. 10: Theo Jackson
Height: 6-2 Weight: 180
247Sports composite: Three stars
College plans: Committed to Tennessee on June 18.
2015 statistics: Jackson, who amassed 315 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns on offense, registered 33 total tackles with three interceptions for the Bobcats last season.