Recruitments that extend all the way to Signing Day often result in the player in question developing a reputation for having a big ego and simply desiring all the attention that goes along with a late decision. Compounding that perception is the fact that so many of those players announce at an All-Star game or on Signing Day itself, sometimes performing a ritualistic dance with a variety of hats.
Jackson Jeffcoat could not be further from those type of players, like, say, everyon's favorite Temple running back. In fact, much like Jordan Hicks, Jeffcoat has handled the process with a great deal of maturity and much credit for that is due to his father, who has limited access to his son and kept virtually all information about Jackson's leanings inside the family. For the recruiting services, it's probably frustrating because Jackson has given few interviews over the course of the process, but it has surely made it easier on the family, which has not had to endure fanbases overreacting at the slightest tidbit or the usual rampant rumors and speculation -- the elder Jeffcoat has made it clear that any information not coming directly from the family is absolutely worthless. When Jeffcoat does finally commit, the way his family has handled the process could end up being a blueprint for other high-profile recruits to follow.
In a rare interview ($) during the week of the Army game, Jeffcoat talked about where he stands with the process, indicating that one of the reasons it has extended all the way into mid-January now is that he wanted to ensure consistency with the coaching staff of his eventual choice, referring specifically to the situations at Florida and USC, two of his finalists:
That’s why I’ve done it this way because things happen. Coaches change and coaches leave. Even though they might tell you they’re going to stay things happen and they end up leaving sometimes.
The uncertain situation at Florida with Urban Meyer, combined with the apparent lack of scholarships after a handful of commitments during the All-Star games, caused Jeffcoat to cancel his visit to Florida that was scheduled for this weekend. Though Jeffcoat has not made an official statement in regards to his feelings for the school, it's probably safe to assume that he has either eliminated Florida or moved them well down his list.
Jeffcoat already made his visit to USC several months ago, so there is no pending indication of whether he will drop USC. However, Jeffcoat did have this to say about Pete Carroll's resignation and move up the coast to Seattle:
It's tough. He might have been thinking about it, he might have not, but all of the guys who were looking at SC are a little upset. He told us he was staying.
It says a lot about young Jeffcoat's diplomacy that he phrased the disappointment as belonging not only to himself, but also to the rest of the USC recruits, but there's clearly at least some sense of betrayal, as Carroll didn't keep his word to the USC targets and recruits. Losing Carroll is a major development for USC's chances with Jeffcoat, as they were considered to be in the top three with Texas and Oklahoma, but the loss of Ken Norton, Jr. to the NFL with Carroll probably hurts just as much. After all, part of the appeal of USC -- though it's difficult to say just how much -- was in the relationship between Norton and Jim Jeffcoat, former teammates on those great Cowboy teams of the mid 90s. In the 2009 class, the bond of former teammates was enough to help put USC over the top in the recruitment of Devon Kennard, son of former Cowboy offensive linemen Derek.
The good news is that Texas is not without their own connections to those great Cowboy teams -- running back Tre' Newton is, of course, the son of Nate, another offensive linemen from that era. It was young Newton who hosted Jeffcoat on his official visit back in late November, a relatively obvious choice for the staff, but an important one in any recruitment. Just look at Mike Davis, for example -- the Skyline star bonded with another former Skyline star in Christian Scott and that connection was enough to help convince Davis that Texas was the place to spend his college years.
Jeff Howe said this about Jeffcoat's visit:
Among the things that stood out to Jeffcoat on his visit were the game day experience, the fact that he felt at home at Texas, and getting to watch film with Muschamp and getting a behind the scenes look at how the Texas program prepares for games.
It's unfortunate that Jeffcoat got the flu the week of the Texas Tech game, keeping he and his father from traveling to Austin, as the opportunity for Muschamp and the elder Jeffcoat to discuss defensive schemes and Coach Boom's vision for his son could have made a major difference in Jackson's recruitment. The positive was what Jeffcoat was able to see in November when attended the Kansas game -- the heartfelt embraces between Mack Brown and his departing seniors and a Texas crowd at its very best honoring a group that achieved a tremendous amount of success in their Texas careers. In a stadium known for being quiet and uninterested, it was a rare moment of high-level fandom from the burnt orange faiithful.
Asked about the Texas program specifically, Jeffcoat cited the usual suspects:
Great tradition, great family atmosphere and a great football team. They were in the national championship (game) which is great.
No news there, really, but Jeffcoat spoke enough and said so little in this interview to make a politician proud -- perhaps he has a future in that profession.
Talk has died down about a package deal of Jackson and his sister Jacqueline, committed to play basketball for Oklahoma, in large part because the family insisted that if Jackson ended up at Oklahoma, it would only be because he considered it the best play to further his football career. Where Jacqueine was a longtime Oklahoma fan and "waited for the offer," Jackson sees the appeal of Oklahoma as their recent success.
Arizona State, his father's alma mater, and Houston are the two other finalists for Jeffcoat and both of those schools are presumably on the list because of their connection to his father. As long as Kevin Sumlin stays at Houston, and it appears now that he will (note: just saw that his name is now linked with the other UT), Jackson would have the opportunity to play there for his father, though it's unknown how great of an appeal that would be. Perhaps the major factor working against Houston is that Jackson would simply not face the level of competition in Conference USA as he would in the Pac 10 or Big 12, possibly a major impediment to the development that will help vault him to success in the NFL.
Jeffcoat was expected to eliminate several schools from consideration following his official visit to Florida, but there is no timetable for that decision now after canceling the trip. Likewise, there is no timetable for his eventual announcement, but it is likely to occur on or just before Signing Day. ESPN will no doubt pressure him to announce on Signing Day for publicity reasons, but if Jeffcoat's recruitment has indicated one thing, it's that he would not choose to announce on that day just for reasons of ego -- if he posseses an oversized view of himself, he certainly keeps it hidden away from public view. And that says everything you need to know about Jackson Jeffcoat as a person.