Vol commit Darrell Jackson bulking up for season
The past calendar year has been a whirlwind for Tennessee commit Darrell Jackson.
The three-star defensive end wasn’t even considered a football player this time a year ago, but everything changed the ensuing fall when the East Gadsden rookie tallied over 50 tackles – 19 behind the line of scrimmage – with five sacks in 2019 as a first-year Letterman.
“I just started playing football this past year. When I saw this new coaching staff come in here at school, I became very interested,” Jackson remembered. “They motivated me every day. I’m so happy to be playing now. I feel like I’ve found my purpose.”
Dedicating his time and efforts to the game, Jackson transformed his body during the process.
“I was about 6-foot-3, 190 pounds – but then after a year of playing football, I got in the weight room and got bigger,” the commit told Volquest. “I told my coaches I was going to be something. So, I got in there and got better.
“I’m now 6-foot-6, 260 pounds. All this in a little over a year.”
Programs began to take notice – Tennessee included. And to everyone’s surprise, Jackson was offered and committed on the spot during his first trip to Knoxville back in February for a Junior Day.
“It was my first time going up there. I never saw anything like it,” Jackson said of UT's campus. “All the coaches showed me love. It really felt like home to me.”
Since then, the two parties have started to get to know one another with outside linebackers coach Shelton Felton heading up the recruitment.
“We talk just about every other day,” Jackson said of the Tennessee coaching staff. “We are beginning to know each other better and the relationship is growing. I speak with coach Felton the most. He’s a good guy with a good personality. I like him a lot.”
Jackson was one of the first few members of Tennessee’s 2021 class and has since began the relationship building process with fellow commits such as De’Shawn Rucker and Jaylen Wright. The class is group that’s surprised many around the country – but one that displays a common theme within.
“I really feel like we can do something special here with all the guys who have joined this class,” Jackson said.
As for the Havana, Fla. native, committing to Tennessee broke a barrier within the family.
“I’ll be the first boy in my family to attend college,” he said. “They are all excited. They are excited that I get to do something with my life and that I’m going to make a change.”
Freshmen come into college programs every year with lofty goals of making impacts on the field right away. Some do – others don’t. That, of course, is the goal for Jackson as well – but the defensive end knows where his priorities should be at the start.
“I’m really going to be focusing on my academics,” the Vol commit said. “I need to get everything right and squared away initially so I can be on course to get my degree. I’m wanting to major in business.”
Until then, the rising prospect is continuing to improve in preparation for his second (and final) high school football season. Jackson has big-time goals for 2020 and wants to be the best he can be prior to stepping on campus.
“I’ve really been working on my craft with my strength and conditioning coach. We’ve been doing it all in the weight room and working on my footwork with drills on the field,” Jackson concluded. “I’m trying to get around 70 tackles, 10 sacks and go to state this season.”