For Jackson, an early engagement and submissive recruitment later turned into a frenzied wild ride.
The five-star cornerback committed to USC in late January. For months everything went well but then the coach Clay Helton he was fired and there was great uncertainty about the assistant coach Donte Williamsfuture and direction of the USC program. Jackson resigned in November.
Alabama then entered the scene and Jackson admitted this week that during his trip to Tuscaloosa this season he engaged with Crimson Tide. But then Lincoln Riley surprisingly he took the job at USC, Williams was kept on staff and things changed once again.
“It’s a wild roller coaster, man,” Jackson said. “I was stressful for the past two weeks. Like the last day and all I was like, ‘Mom, I don’t know what I’m going to do.’ I was just going through it. I was contacting everyone I could contact and I was just reaching out to everyone. I just had to make my final decision. I went with my instincts and we’re about to change things. “
Jackson went with his instincts and also immersed himself in many conversations. He exchanged messages with former Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain, a first-round NFL Draft pick from the Denver Broncos. He spoke extensively with Alabama QB Bryce Young, a former Mater Dei teammate and Eli Ricks, also a former high school teammate who was moving from LSU and was also watching USC and Alabama. Ricks ended up with Crimson Tide.
“Patrick Surtain actually sent me a message from Alabama,” helps Jackson. “He told me the truth. Bryce we talked every day. Elias, we talked. It just turns out that school won’t do it for me, that’s what I’ll do for school. It’s for me, so I’ll challenge myself wherever I go.
“Bryce wasn’t even saying, ‘Come to Alabama.’ Just what is best for me. Do what your instincts tell you and follow. I engaged with Bama when I was there. I said (Nick) Saban one day later. I went home and I thought it was the right place for me, but things change ”.
If Riley hadn’t been hired at USC, if Williams hadn’t been detained, Alabama would likely have been the spot for the five-star cornerback. USC just needed direction. The kids just needed to find a reason to go back.
Over the course of multiple visits to USC now with Riley in charge, Jackson found what he was looking for. In the end.
“I’m not going to hit the old coaching staff because I love Clay Helton,” Jackson said. “I just think it was more like everyone was distracted about everything. The energy changed in SC when I went there the last two times and that’s their business. They’re already changing the whole weight room and stuff.
“I’m more of a guy where I need people next to me who can push me and make me better. I don’t want to always be the best guy, but I’m the best guy. I just want to be pushed every day. “