It's official -- the good news on Friday morning began with five-star defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat announcing his intention of becoming a Texas Longhorn ($) next Wednesday when he signs his Letter of Intent. Unbelievable.
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 anticlimatic though -- how could the commitment from one of the absolute best players in the country be anticlimatic?
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.
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.
Here are some thoughts from nearly a year ago, with more to follow before Wednesday:
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.