Recruiting Spotlight: Jackson Jeffcoat

  Jjtexas_medium

Second in the series of the Crowning Six (Jordan Hicks).

Vitals

Name: Jackson Jeffcoat

Position: Defensive end

Height: 6-4

Weight: 230

Speed: 4.5 40-yard dash

High School: Plano West

Rating (Rivals): Five out of five (6.1)

Post-commitment thoughts (Instant Analysis and Instant Scouting Report)

Overview/Recruitment

Commitment Instant Analysis:

Rumors swirled all Thursday that Jeffcoat was going to announce for the Longhorns, but given the overall trajectory of Jeffcoat's recruitment, it was hard to give credence to that theory. Now, it appears that those rumors were obviously correct, making the actual announcement by Jeffcoat on Friday morning somewhat anticlimactic after a recruitment that featured only minimal information emerging from the family about where Jeffcoat was going to college. Only somewhat anticlimactic though -- how could the commitment from one of the absolute best players in the country be anticlimactic?

It's another major victory over Oklahoma in a class littered with such victories. While Jordan Hicks will either end up in the Big 10 or Big 12 -- Texas wouldn't have to face him every season -- the situation with Jeffcoat was different. He had to decide which side of the Red River he wanted to be on, whether he would wear crimson or burnt orange. Whether he would be with or against his own sister. As so many other recruits did in 2010 who possessed offers from both schools, Jeffcoat decided he would be true to the state of his birth. The Texas kid, going to Texas. It's just better that way.

Jeffcoat's commitment helps push not only the class as a whole, but the defensive group that Will Muschamp is assembling, over the top. It's hard not to say at this point that the overall class is Mack Brown's best ever and the defensive group is probably without comparison. With a player like Alex Okafor already on campus and the combination of Greg Daniels, Reggie Wilson, and now Jeffcoat, the defensive end position is not only set for the next several years, but should be the strongest group in the country and it shouldn't even be close.

Really, it's almost an embarrassment of riches for Texas, as recruiting momentum continues to build as the 2010 class winds down and the class seemingly keeps adding elite talent upon elite talent -- it's really unbelievable how this class is beginning to wrap up, with the commitment of the only current five star of the group in Jeffcoat, who obviously decided that he wanted to jump on the Longhorn bandwagon that he is rolling towards numerous opportunities to compete for the national championship -- the stud defensive end decided it was indeed better to be with Texas than against Texas. Now it's simply up to Jordan Hicks to do the same.

Unlike most recruits, it's difficult to trace an overall arc of the process with Jeffcoat because his family, his father in particular, who handled most of the interviews, limited access to him to such a great degree. They also kept whatever day-to-day feelings and changes in thinking by Jackson under wraps -- his father at one point during his son's recruitment noted that any information that didn't come directly from the family wasn't even worth entertaining as the truth.

Despite that, there are several definitive statements that can be made -- it appeared throughout most of the process that USC, Oklahoma, and Texas were the three favorites even though the younger Jeffcoat often stated that he was completely open throughout much of his recruitment. The main appeal for USC was always the relationship that his father had with Ken Norton, Jr from their days with the Cowboys and the presence on the roster of another son of a former Cowboy -- offensive linemen Derek Kennard's son, Devon.

It's probably safe to say that USC was still in the running at the time that Pete Carroll left for the Seahawks and that Jeffcoat was strongly considering becoming a Trojan based on the merits of the school and the Cowboy connection with both Norton and Kennard. He certainly knew the campus reasonably well, having made an official visit in the fall and an unofficial visit for the USC Rising Stars camp before his senior season. Carroll's departure and the fact that he took Norton with him all but ended USC's chances with Jeffcoat -- he spoke in an interview during the US Army week about his disappointment with Carroll's decision, as the former USC head coach had told Jeffcoat and other recruits he wasn't planning on leaving Los Angeles.

As for Oklahoma, Jackson was ultimately independent enough to make his own decision and not simply follow his twin sister Jacqueline across the Red River -- she will play basketball in Norman and grew up an Oklahoma fan. His father's connections to the Oklahoma program were not enough either, despite the fact that his boss at Houston, Kevin Sumlin, is a former Sooner assistant. The Texas kid, whose father played for Texas' team in the Cowboys ultimately decided not to be attend Oklahoma, as he never identified with the Sooners in the way that his sister did.

That Jackson clearly ended up making his own decision speaks highly of his father and sister -- neither one of them appeared to pressure him into his eventual choice, not even his father, even though his son would have significantly helped the Houston program had he been able to convince his son to play for him.

Post-Commitment Quotes

Rivals ($):

I really just didn't let it stress me out It was my decision and all the schools I was choosing from were great schools, so any one I picked would be a great choice. Everyone told me that, my parents told me that. They said wherever I choose to go is the right choice.

From his father:

He's trying to live through me, and that's probably why I handled the process the way I did," said Jeffcoat. "I wasn't the information giver for anyone, I was the information gatherer for my son. I wasn't here to appease anybody, I was here to make sure that my son was in the best situation he could be in. I've been through this whole thing myself, so I knew I didn't have to appease anyone except my son.
He would have been in a good situation at Oklahoma, and he would have been in a good situation at Houston. But it's what you make of the situation and Jackson really thought that Texas was the best for him. He's going to be in a really good place there.

Jackson himself:

They've helped me so much, they've done so much for me," said Jeffcoat of his family. "I feel like they had more pressure on them than I did, because they made everything go through them. All the interviews went through them. They would talk to people and then ask me if I wanted to talk to them, so I'm very thankful for them. I'm really blessed to have parents like these.
They have the buck position that they want me to play, and they've had a lot of success with it. Brian Orakpo played it, and he's in the pro bowl, and then Sergio Kindle who is projected to be a high draft pick. There has been a whole lot of success at that position
Also, the school has great academics. They have great programs with the things I want to do, so it really is the right place for me
He's just a great recruiter. He told me straight up that he's not going to promise me a starting spot or anything like that. He said, 'you're going to have to come in and work but you're going to get playing time because we've seen what you can do on film.' That was big for me, but a lot of schools told me that. It just came down to what felt right and I feel like this is the right decision for me.
I've gotten to know Reggie Wilson a good amount because we were roommates at the U.S. Army game. He's a really good guy. Connor Wood and Traylon Shead are both good people, I got to know them too. I really liked meeting them and it just felt like I would fit right in with them and the rest of the class.
Basketball is my first love and it always will be. Basketball is just so fun to play and it also helps so much with football. (Playing on the Texas basketball team) is definitely something I'm going to try to do. I just have to see how my body feels after the football season.

Coach Rick Barnes talked to me and he said I can play so that's a big thing for me because I would love to play basketball. He said I could be a little like a P.J. Tucker kind of guy because I use my body a lot and play physical.
I want to step in there and fight hard to get on the field and help the team. Texas just went to a national championship and that's big time for me because I want to win a national championship. That's one of my main goals. My dad's obviously got some championships, and I want to get some championships too. I've got to keep it in the family.

Inside Texas

I felt most comfortable at Texas. Not that I didn’t feel comfortable at other schools. That’s what made the decision so hard. All these schools are great schools. I just felt right at Texas.
The visit was great. They really made me feel at home. My host was Tre Newton and his dad played (Nate Newton) on the (Dallas) Cowboys with mine so I’ve known Tre for a while, so it was pretty fun. The game was fun getting to see them go out there, it was the seniors’ last game at Royal (Memorial Stadium) and it was a great atmosphere.
Just to see how they prepare for the game and all of that. Watching film with Coach Muschamp and the team and all of that, that was fun to do and I enjoyed it.
Great education, they’ve got a good defense and a great coaching staff and the family atmosphere about them. I like the family atmosphere they have.

In summary, then, though it was difficult to predict where Jeffcoat was headed or determine the specific reasons why he chose not to play football at Oklahoma. Several things stand out, however -- Jeffcoat obviously placed a heavy emphasis on the ability to win a national championship and clearly saw that he could either be with or against the Longhorns and decided that he wanted to be with them, seeing the potential there with Muschamp as his defensive coordinator and Garrett Gilbert as the quarterback. Rather than worrying about the depth chart or playing time or the competition with players like Alex Okafor and Reggie Wilson, Jeffcoat embraced the talent of his future teammates as a reason for attending Texas, not a reason for going somewhere else.

Other factors weighed heavily as well, including his comfort level with Mack Brown and Will Muschamp, the overall family atmosphere at Texas, and the ability to play the Buck linebacker position in the Texas defense, a position that will give him the opportunity to showcase his athleticism and play in space more often than he would be able to in most other defenses. It would have been ideal for Jeffcoat to have made it down to Austin for his official visit over the weekend of the Texas Tech game so he could have watched film with both Muschamp and his father (it was Houston's off week), but it's clear that Jackson is independent enough that simply watching film with Muschamp and discussing how he would fit into the Texas scheme made nearly as much of a difference, if not absolutely equal to what the Tech trip would have meant.

The film that Muschamp no doubt showed to Jeffcoat was of the two previous Buck position stars at Texas -- Brian Orakpo, a Pro-Bowl injury replacement his first season in the NFL, and Sergio Kindle, whose move to the position over the last two seaosn probably made him millions of dollar. Their success there has been inarguable and it's a helluva recruiting tool to show a kid like Jeffcoat film of them and say, "This is what you can become as well. Maybe better."

In the end, Jeffcoat's decision wasn't as obvious as it became with the multitude of factors suggesting Jordan Hicks would become a Longhorn. The information control by the Jeffcoat family was too extreme for that, but Hicks and Jeffcoat clearly felt a similar comfort level at Texas and belief in Will Muschamp -- it's probably safe to say that Texas was in the heart of Jackson Jeffcoat as well.

Jeffcoat_medium

Offers

  • Texas (committed 1/29/2010)
  • Arizona State
  • Baylor
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Houston
  • Nebraska
  • Notre Dame
  • Oklahoma
  • Rutgers
  • Stanford
  • TCU
  • Texas A&M
  • Texas Tech
  • USC
Instant Scouting Report:
There's a reason that Jeffcoat is ranked so highly and it revolves around the remarkable refinement of his technique, a credit to the hard work both he and his father have put into learning the subtleties of the position. Make no mistake about it, Jeffcoat is an exceptional athlete, but probably falls short of being an elite edge rusher. Instead, Jeffcoat uses his strong technique to beat his opponents, both against the run and the pass.

Jeffcoat, analyzed:

Plano West defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat has the combination of production, pedigree, and raw talent that makes him one of the top several players in the 2010 class and a top national recruit. Analyzing most high school film comes with the caveat of the talented player you're watching going against much less talented players who will never play a down of competitive football after their high school career. What makes this bit of film so valuable is that it pits Jeffcoat against serious talent -- 2009 Texas commit Thomas Ashcraft and 2010 prospect Adam Shead of Cedar Hill.

What Jeffcoat shows ($) is his elite explosiveness off the ball, more reminiscent of a skill position player than a defensive end. Using that explosiveness, Jeffcoat can run by offensive lineman and also pursue plays from the backside, much like Alex Okafor, though Jeffcoat might even be more advanced technically. He also uses his quick feet to stutter inside and leave attempted blocker Adam Shead absolutely in the dust when the guard fails to get his hands into Jeffcoat's body. In fact, he's so fast that most offensive lineman don't even have a chance to get their hands into him. For some evidence that Ashcraft doesn't have the feet to play left tackle, Jeffcoat simply runs by him after using his hands to keep Ashcraft out of his body. He also shows an impressive slipperiness when offensive lineman try to block him, as Jeffcoat almost effortlessly avoids them when the opposing player loses their balance trying to get into his body.

Despite his long and lanky frame, he shows no problems using leverage and his lower body to stand up opposing lineman and shed them while moving laterally down the ine of scrimmage on running plays. On another play, Jeffcoat stands up two blockers, keeping his outside shoulder free to tackle the running back when entering his area.

In most of the recruiting spotlights I've written about defensive lineman recently, I've talked a lot about how few high schools players at that position have anything even approaching sound technique. Jeffcoat does, undoubtedly the result of having a father who not only played in the NFL, but currently coaches those same techniques at Houston. When combined with his natural ability, Jeffcoat's incredibly developed technique makes him almost unblockable at the high school level.

Note: Jeffcoat wears #42. The film below is not the film I analyzed, but it is worthwhile to watch because it highlights his prodigious skills, in particular his ability to get up in the air and knock down passes, with one particularly athletic play where he tips the ball in the air, then finds it and makes a diving catch. (Note: this is the first highlight video at the bottom of the page.)

Strengths:

  • Technique -- Due to his extensive work with his father throughout his life, Jeffcoat has incredible technique for a high school senior. In fact, he probably has better technique than many defensive ends who have played at the collegiate level for several years.
  • Pass-rushing ability -- One thing that makes Jeffcoat such a successful pass rusher is the fact that he can use his hands ($) to "punch, push, pull or simply swat a blocker's hands down." Since he doesn't have to rely on his speed to simply beat his opponent around the edge and run the arc, Jeffcoat can work back inside with power moves and counters. He seems to have an intuitive understanding of how to set up his opponent to get to the quarterback. Combining his excellent, if slightly less than elite explosion off the ball and his incredible technique results in a player considered by Rivals to be the second-best pass rusher ($) in the class at defensive end the third-quickest first step (Wilson does not make that list, surprisingly).
  • Motor -- Like Alex Okafor last year, simply running away from Jeffcoat at the high school level and leaving him unblocked is not a particularly sound offensive strategy, as Jeffcoat will consistently track those plays down if his teammates can stretch it wide or force the running back to slow down.
  • Football savvy -- It may be something that Jeffcoat came by naturally, inherited from the championship-winning father. It may be something learned as he grew up around a college coach. Either way, Jeffcoat has a developed and significant football IQ.
  • Feet/lateral quickness -- On designed outside runs like the outside zone or speed option, defenses benefit greatly from defensive ends stretching the play wide, requiring both the strength to hold position and the feet to move laterally down the line of scrimmage, keeping the outside shoulder free and establishing the readiness to shed the blocker. Jeffcoat has the feet to do it and will be an outstanding run defender in college as the result.
  • Maturity -- This one has been obvious from the recruiting process -- there was no drama, no ill-considered quotes that set off internet firestorms, nothing. There's no question that Jeffcoat has the mental makeup to allow him to maximize his physical gifts, which are remarkable.
  • Projectable frame -- Unlike, say, fellow 2010 commit Greg Daniels, Jeffcoat has a long, lean frame like Jordan Hicks that will allow him to add good weight and strength in the Texas strength and conditioning program. In fact, Jeffcoat made the All-Lobby team ($) from the Army bowl and was considered to have the leanest frame of all the defensive linemen, a group that includes the no. 1 national player in Ronald Powell, a defensive end with the speed of a skill position player.
  • Twisting and stunting -- Jeffcoat may not have elite speed off the edge, but he was excellent in the Plano West defense twisting and stunting, then using his straigh-line speed to get to the quarterback in a hurry. Playing the Buck position at Texas, Jeffcoat will have the ability to change games with hits on the quarterback executing twist and stunts.

Weaknesses:

  • Pure burst -- Many observers feel that fellow 2010 commit Reggie Wilson has a better burst off the ball than Jeffcoat, who is slightly less than elite in that category. An area in which his father feels he needs to improve.
  • Strength -- Basketball is an extremely important sport to Jeffcoat -- so much so that he calls it his "first love" and will attempt to continue his basketball career at Texas under Rick Barnes. The problem, to which his Rivals page attests, is that while he puts on muscle during the basketball off season, he often loses some of that weight during basketball season. It could continue to be a problem of maintaining that muscle mass added in the Texas strength and conditioning program as he participates in basketball activities at Texas.
  • Pursuit angles -- Jeffcoat could better maximize his speed in pursuit by taking better angles. Though far from Blake Gideon in this respect, it's one of the small aspects of his game that he can improve upon in college and one that his father pointed out in an article by the USA Today.
  • Leverage -- Though Jeffcoat generally plays with much better leverage than most players his age, his father still believes it's another area in which he could improve.

Comparison: Devon Kennard, USC. It's a strong comparison ($) because both Kennard and Jeffcoat were told by Will Muschamp that they would play the Buck position at Texas and Kennard eventually ended up playing a lot of linebacker for USC in 2009, his freshman season, while Jeffcoat will probably spend a lot of his freshman season in a two-point stance in the Buck. Both had fathers who played for the Super Bowl-winning Cowboy teams and the 90s and both players have/had strong technique coming out of high school well above and beyond that of most, if not all, of their peers. The major difference is that Kennard has slightly better pure explosion, but Jeffcoat better speed in the open field.

Some analysts compare Jeffcoat to another former two-sport college star, former North Carolina and, for now, Carolina Panther, Julius Peppers. There's a major reason that comparison completely fails, however, and that's because there's absolutely no question that Peppers is a freakish athlete without peer and two to three inches taller than Jeffcoat. Physically, they just aren't that similar. While possessing strong to excellent athleticism, no one is calling Jeffcoat a freakish athlete. It's a lazy comparison made simply because Peppers played basketball in college and Jeffcoat plans on doing the same.

Target Weight -- 250 pounds. Jeffcoat has an excellent frame capable of carrying more weight and one observer projects that he could compete at 250 pounds without losing a step and Barry Every even predicts that Jeffcoat could play at 260 pounds without losing any of his quickness. The problem is his desire to play basketball at Texas -- Jeffcoat currently fluctuates between his playing weight for basketball and his playing weight for football. To reach 250 or 260 pounds, Jeffcoat will not only have to commit himself in the weight room, which shouldn't be a problem given his work ethic, but the fact that he plans on playing basketball at Texas will limit his development and make it difficult for him to consistently stay in football shape all year.

The positive is that his basketball work on explosiveness may help him improve his first step and make sure that he doesn't add any bad weight or increase his upper body strength at the expense of his straight-line speed. Can he play at 260 and still maintain his ability to change direction? As long as Jeffcoat has the strength to hold up in the running game -- which Sergio Kindle was able to do at between 245 and 255 pounds over his last two seasons in college, he probably will not and should not play at 260 pounds. With his strong hands good technique, Jeffcoat should be able excel both in the running game and in covering ground at 250 pounds or slightly more.

Verdict

It's almost hard to comprehend the fact that Jackson Jeffcoat will fax his Letter of Intent in on Wednesday morning and officially become a Texas Longhorns when he does so. Hard to comprehend because Jeffcoat always seemed like a luxury in this class after the early commitments of Reggie Wilson and Greg Daniels and will no provide the other bookend on the line for the future, along with Alex Okafor. With those three, Daniels and possibly even a guy like Tevin Mims, the Longhorns should have one of the best defensive end rotations in the country over the coming years. In a league that passes the ball as much as the Big 12, the defensive end position is of huge importance because of the necessity of getting to the quarterback.

The tutelage from his father both on technique and the maturity he gained through the recruiting process greatly limit the chances that Jeffcoat flames out at Texas and doesn't contribute significantly at the defensive end position. He had too much family support, he handled the process too well, and he's too refined as a football player. His sister explained to the USA Today how her father has helped :

We have a standard to keep. He's taught us so much about when we get to college what not to do and how to be coachable players. It would be a lot harder if he wasn't there. We've been prepared for things better than other kids.

Jackson's quote about wanting to catch up with his father in terms of winning championship reveals a playful competitiveness that manifests itself in other ways as well:

They bump chests and lock horns in the living room, adjacent to sliding glass doors. What looks like a father-son wrestling match turns into a dominance ritual between linemen fighting for leverage.

"They do this all the time," says Jackson's mother and Jim's wife, Tammy Jeffcoat, chuckling and with not much concern about potential damage.

Not bad practice for the younger Jeffcoat.

The only truly limiting factor for Jeffcoat seems to be his desire to play basketball. After announcing his decision to attend Texas, Jeffcoat revealed that he had already spoken with Rick Barnes and made the plans to begin his basketball season when football completes in January. Jeffcoat called it his first love, but he will have to realize at some point that he needs to work towards being in football shape all year long and playing basketball could limit his development in terms of reaching his eventual playing weight.

Expect him to play basketball for a year or two before coming to terms with the fact that he needs to commit to football full time and, if the Jamaal Charles situation really went down as JC said it did, then the Texas staff will surely put some pressure on him before his junior season at the latest to drop basketball and begin preparation for the NFL in earnest.

It's also possible that Jeffcoat doesn't have the upside of more raw players like Reggie Wilson and that his general refinement as a player may limit the amount of improvement he can make at the college level. However, that's a small concern -- how can you really criticize a kid for having already nearly perfected his technique at a position that requires putting together a difficult combination of leverage, hand placement, hand strength, speed, and flexibility, all while playing on the defensive line, where things happen more quickly than at any other defensive position on the field?

So even without the raw upside of Wilson or his pure burst, Jeffcoat has an equal ability to become a collegiate star. So while both players have the chance to leave indelible marks on the face of Texas football, they would come to that place via vastly different starting points. It's a compelling storyline. The more compelling storyline might be the fact that will they combine with Alex Okafor to bookend the Texas for the near future, with both 2010 commits being capable of playing the weakside and the strongside positions, though Wilson seems most suited for the strong side -- what an incredible pair of defensive ends.

Impact ETA: 2011. It probably won't be after the graduation of Sam Acho and Eddie Jones that Jeffcoat will see significant playing time. There is a chance that he could see time as a situational pass rusher as a freshman, but some of his playing time will depend on whether Okafor takes over at the Buck position or if Will Muschamp wants to use Jeffcoat there as a true freshman. Jeffcoat has the maturity, technique, and physical talent to contribute there in 2010, but 2011 is a safer bet for Jeffcoat to have the true impact of which he is capable.

Highlights:

'10 TX DE Jackson Jeffcoat (via RedshirtScouting)

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