Ian Jackson has played linebacker for about a year and now he has plans to do it at the highest level.
"I'm going to the University of Alabama," he told SI All-American. "I decided to commit there, it's a great decision for me and a big deal not only for my family but in the community. We've had a drought in recruiting, so to speak, not a lot of people have been getting recruited in our area. For me to start that trend in our area is real big for everyone. "
The Prattville (Ala.) High School standout, who says he's up to 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, was a hybrid defensive back type earlier in his prep career. But moving to the second level in 2019, he put together a staggering campaign including 91 tackles, including 12 tackles for loss and five sacks per Al.com.
Scholarship offers poured in from all over but he ended the process with the pledge to Nick Saban and his staff earlier in May. The decision went public on Thursday.
"It was a few weeks ago," Jackson said. "I actually told Coach (Pete) Golding first, then I told Coach (Charles) Kelly and then Coach Saban that afternoon. He was just happy and excited, ready to get to work with me and I haven't even finished my senior season. That's a good thing, to know how much of a priority that you are to the team."
The safety foundation and new-age linebacker frame combine for a versatile position projection by Crimson Tide coaches.
"They see me playing the money linebacker spot that they have," he said. "I can do a lot for the team in different positions. They think I can play a lot more positions. They think I can do more than certain linebackers in the recruiting class just with my versatility and my safety background.
"It's always a good thing, being able to play multiple positions on the field because if something happens you can always just fill in."
Jackson had long planned to make a decision before the 2020 season began and considered a strong list of offers along the way. LSU, Georgia and Auburn, an offer he resonated with given strong family ties to the Tigers, each came calling and remained in the race until the end.
Now the rising-senior recruit will face off against the program he grew up rooting for.
"We grew up Auburn fans, just going to a lot of their games when I was younger," Jackson said. "It was always Auburn for us, with my mom graduating from there and my uncle, too. My sister actually goes there now, but when the recruiting process pretty much started up, they weren't really saying 'go to Auburn.' They said to go where it's best for you.
"Alabama made me more of a priority than they did. Coach Saban actually came down to the school...it was real big and surprising. The next day I went to the junior day and they offered. Ever since then, they made me a priority. Auburn, they came along a little late, but I had that relationship already built with Alabama."
The Montgomery area has long been a battleground for top prospects in the state of Alabama. The linebacker position, in particular, has been favorable for UA there. Recent standouts from the area include Mack Wilson and Shaun Dion Hamilton, each currently on NFL rosters.
"I talked to Shaun Dion a few times, actually," Jackson said. "They didn't really influence a decision, it's just more of that they were happy that I was going to keep the train going for guys in our area. They wanted me to join the family and it was great talking to those guys.
"I know I've got some big shoes to fill and I'll have to step up my game but I always take a challenge head on. I never back down from one."
Hinting at more possible positive news for Alabama on the recruiting trail, one of the top prospects within state lines offered a self-scouting report.
"They got a great player, a team player who is unselfish and will do everything to help Alabama win a championship," he said. "The commitments are going to start to pick up, too. I have a good feeling there will be some soon."
Jackson is Alabama's sixth verbal commitment of the 2021 cycle and fifth since April 17. He joins Mobile (Ala.) Christian linebacker Deontae Lawson and Montgomery (Ala.) Robert E. Lee two-way lineman Anquin Barnes among in-state pickups for the Crimson Tide to date.
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