National Signing Day was oddly quiet for Boling athlete Vernon Jackson, who quietly decommitted behind the scenes from the Alabama Crimson Tide on Tuesday evening — he never set an announcement time and there weren’t any reporters at Boling when it finally appeared that he’d signed with the Texas A&M Aggies.
Action Jackson is taking his talents to Aggieland! Congratulations, Vernon! GIG'EM!!! pic.twitter.com/BYLZ8G3xJz— Leslie Reinecker (@LeslieReinecker) February 8, 2018
There’s Jackson, apparently signing his National Letter of Intent, with a Texas A&M hat on. The Aggie beat writers thought that the coaching staff subsequently received the fax. Good job, good effort, Texas staff.
Not so fast.
Jackson never announced anything on his Twitter account and neither of the two official A&M Twitter accounts have acknowledged the receipt of his NLI. Not even this morning. In fact, Jackson hasn’t changed his Twitter profile, either. The profile he has changed? His Instagram, @vernonjackson_, which now reads that he’s a “TEXAS A&M RB.”
Jackson plays quarterback for Boling in addition to linebacker, but it was widely believed that he would play defense in college. So that helps explain why the Aggies were able to secure the decommitment from Alabama and land his commitment on Wednesday evening — the staff sold him on the idea of playing running back. At 6’3 and 240 pounds.
Answering the question of why A&M hasn’t acknowledged receipt of his NLI is aided by a look at the other additions on Wednesday. Most specifically, the Aggies signed two running backs from Florida, including 6’1, 220-pound Charles Strong, the last announced signee.
Reading between the lines, Jackson may not be happy about that fact. Perhaps he’s wondering if the Aggies are really acting in good faith by promising him the ability to play running back — it’s certainly the case that he loses all leverage in that regard if he binds himself to A&M for a year by signing his NLI. He wouldn’t be the first player a staff promised the opportunity to play a favored position before being switched quickly upon arrival. Anyone remember the Russell Shepard saga?
So there’s an opening here. Whether Texas is still in the mix is difficult to determine at this time, but Jackson is an intriguing enough athlete that keeping the ball in his hands as an H-back isn’t a stretch to imagine — there’s arguably a bigger need there in this class for the ‘Horns than on defense after the staff signed five defensive linemen yesterday. Head coach Tom Herman even speculated on Longhorn Network about the closest analog in his signing class, Louisiana athlete Mike Williams, playing tight end for Texas.
Offering Jackson that option (and following through on it) may be the only chance to secure another flip from him.
Perhaps Jackson simply opts to sign an athletic scholarship agreement that doesn’t bind him to Texas A&M, but reserves a scholarship spot for him. He would be free from the restrictions of a NLI, a similar scenario to the one that produced rampant speculation that Malik Jefferson would leave Austin for College Station between the time that he enrolled early and signed his NLI. Wouldn’t similar speculation make for an interesting offseason in Aggieland?
That’s the route that Jarrett Allen took at Texas, though it’s one that few players in the two major men’s sports opt to take.
So that’s where things stand as of Thursday morning. What actually happens next in this unusual story is anyone’s guess.
Congratulations to the newest Aggie running back.