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New Gators DB Offer Ja'Keem Jackson Previewed Potential UF Arrival

Defensive back Ja'Keem Jackson shared his excitement about a potential Florida offer on May 12 with AllGators. On May 20, that offer arrived.

Photo: Ja'Keem Jackson; Credit: Brandon Carroll

The Florida Gators expanded their horizon in their search for talented new members of the secondary on Friday.

Offering one of the 2023 cycle's hottest rising in-state stars in defensive back Ja'Keem Jackson, the Gators joined the likes of Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Iowa, UCF, Miami and others vying for the services of the lengthy and physical coverage man.

Despite arriving a little late to the party, Florida's entry into the prospects sweepstakes comes during a booming period for the Kissimmee-area recruit.

Prior to his offer from UF, AllGators stopped by Osceola high school for a team scrimmage on May 12. He discussed the current state of his recruitment, the contact he had with Florida to that point and his interest in receiving an offer from the program that resides just over two hours away.

"That's one of the schools I liked when I was a little kid, so yeah," Jackson said when asked if Florida was a school he was keeping an eye out for. "Coach [Patrick] Toney, he’s been at practice a couple of times. So yeah, we've been talking a little bit."

Those discussions have likely grown to become more substantial and frequent in the past week.

Jackson, who has quickly risen on recruitment boards during the spring, came into the spring practice session believing he was on the cusp of national recognition. As a result, the Kissimmee native made it a point to put in hours to refine his craft.

Jackson credits the influx of offers to his hard work so far this offseason.

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"Oh, it feels good," Jackson said about the increased level of interest from around the country in under the past month. "You know, like, I've been putting in a lot of work this offseason. And now, when these coaches come to see me, I'm putting on the show. So, I feel really good about all my hard work that I did over the offseason."

Offering a desirable skillset of length, speed and physicality in a talent-riddled Osceola defense – including the likes of defensive linemen and fellow Gators targets John Walker and Derrick LeBlanc – it can be hard to miss him when he steps on the field.

"I like that I'm aggressive off the line, I use my long arms as an advantage, I’ve got good speed and good ball skills."

He lived up to that personal billing in his reps.

Jackson's physical presence and polished skills in coverage resulted in him rarely being picked on when working in pass coverage against the Kowboys' first-team offense. However, on the few occasions he was targeted, he was able to make a play on the ball to force incompletions. Despite the limited action through the air, Jackson found a way to get involved against the run, making a few open-field tackles along the boundary.

His body type suggests that he projects to be a true outside corner at the next level, but Tennessee, who is currently a significant competitor in Jackson's recruitment, sees the Osceola product in a variety of different positions in their secondary. 

His versatility – an area also stressed by the Gators coaching staff since they arrived – has him slated to potentially occupy spots on the outside and at the nickel/STAR position for his future program.

While arriving to the party later than others can sometimes be a rugged mountain to climb, cornerbacks coach Corey Raymond will have no issue getting caught up to speed with the other programs at the top before his final decision is made.

The Gators towel and gloves Jackson repped with AllGators in attendance suggest that.

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