Less than a week after securing a commitment from Arizona’s No. 2 prospect, USC signed the state’s No. 1 prospect. Five-star offensive tackle Austin Jackson announced on Wednesday that he will play for the Trojans, joining Mountain Pointe High safety Isaiah Pola-Mao. Jackson chose USC over two other Pac-12 programs, Washington and Arizona State.
Jackson’s choice will come as no surprise for anyone who has followed his recruitment. USC was considered the frontrunner to land him entering National Signing Day, even as the Sun Devils pressed to keep him in the desert. Though he spent his prep career in Phoenix, Ariz., Jackson is a Trojans legacy, as his grandfather played for the program in the 1970s.
The decision also continues the trend of the Grand Canyon State’s top prospect spurning Arizona’s two FBS programs, Arizona and Arizona State. Not since 2008, when four-star Hamilton High wide receiver Gerell Robinson picked the Sun Devils, has the state’s top-rated prospect elected to stay home, according to Scout.com.
While it would have been one of signing day’s bigger recruiting upsets had Jackson not chosen USC, the pick adds to the program’s fruitful closing stretch in the 2017 cycle. Late last month, the Trojans flipped one of the best defensive tackles in the country, Central (Ore.) High’s Marlon Tuipulotu, and they followed up four days later by securing a commitment from Pola-Mao.
Those two additions were only the beginning of USC’s late push. On signing day the Trojans landed Westlake (Texas) four-star linebacker Levi Jones and Bingham (Utah) High five-star defensive tackle Jay Tufele. They're considered major contenders for Augustus F. Hawkins (Calif.) High five-star wide receiver Joseph Lewis, Inderkum (Calif.) High four-star tight end Josh Falo and four-star athlete Greg Johnson, Lewis's teammate at Augustus F. Hawkins.
In a year in which the Trojans had already reeled in four offensive line prospects, Jackson represents the biggest recruiting victory. Scouts praise the 6’5”, 290-pound pass-blocker for his footwork and lateral mobility. Jackson is the No. 5 offensive tackle and No. 30 prospect in the nation, according to Scout.com. Although offensive linemen often need more time to develop than prospects at other positions, USC could move to use Jackson early in his college career after losing starting tackles Chad Wheeler and Zach Banner this off-season.
Jackson will join four-star Clayton Valley Charter (Calif.) High tackle Jalen McKenzie, four-star Bishop O’Dowd (Calif.) High tackle Alijah Vera-Tucker, three-star Kingsburg (Calif.) High tackle Andrew Vorhees and four-star Santa Margarita Catholic (Calif.) High center Brett Neilon in USC’s class. He’s the second highest-rated prospect in the Trojans’ haul, behind Summit (Calif.) High running back Stephen Carr (No. 8) but is expected to fall to third when Lewis his decision later on Wednesday.
Here is Scout.com’s full scouting report on Jackson:
Has the frame and athletic ability to be an elite level prospect. Jackson has excellent feet, likely from his basketball background. Watch him in pass pro, he is able to move his feet and change direction with ease. He can reach, pull and get to the second level. Usually with young, athletic tackles, you won't see aggression. Jackson has it. He finishes guys. Has big time ability.