One of the realities of college recruiting is that it is an ongoing process. Charlie Strong has embraced this reality, aggressively pursuing prospects from the class of 2016 even as the 2015 class continues to take shape. His efforts have (so far) borne fruit in Joseph Jackson, a lanky strong-side defensive end from Miami, FL. Standing at 6' 5" and weighing in at 230 lbs, Jackson is the starting defensive end (and tight end) for a talented Gulliver Prep football team. Interestingly, Texas is firmly in the mix for his services. While at the Miami Dolphins 7-on-7 workout camp, Jackson listed his Top 3 to 247Sports writer Ryan Bartow.
Later in the day, the No. 14 defensive end prospect of the 2016 class shared his thoughts on the Longhorns.
"When I got that offer? I was shocked. The coach from Alabama is still over there. I guess he still remembered me. I appreciate it."
The "coach from Alabama" in this case refers to Chris Rumph, the Crimson Tide's former defensive line coach who mentored and sent players like Dont'a Hightower, Marcell Dareus, and Courtney Upshaw to the NFL.
Needless to say, Jackson's top 3 choices are far from set at this point. Texas offered Jackson back in April, but he has not yet been able to schedule a visit to the 40 Acres. By contrast, Jackson has already met with Alabama's entire coaching staff. Given Jackson's relative unfamiliarity with the Longhorns' program, Strong and his coaches will have to work hard to bring this prospect to town and build on their early momentum. And they will have to work quickly - in addition to his top 3, Jackson holds offers from Miami, Florida State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Oklahoma. He is planning visits to several of these schools in the next few weeks.
"I’m trying to go with my teammates to take a tour of all of the colleges in Florida," Jackson said. "I want to go to Alabama, Auburn and Texas."
Seeing as Rumph is the only connection Texas has to Jackson, it's more than a little surprising to see the Longhorns so high on his list of possible destinations. Hopefully, Jackson likes what he sees and hears from the Texas coaching staff when he does arrive at Austin - and vice-versa. Strong has shown that he is not afraid to search far and wide for the prospects he wants - gone are the days when Texas would recruit almost exclusively in-state. The winds of change are blowing in Austin, and the 2016 class will go a long way in determining the success of these changes.