Sumter (S.C.) High defensive lineman DJ Jackson was one of nine official visitors on the Syracuse campus over the weekend. AllSyracuse.com caught up with Jackson after the trip to discuss how it went, visit impact and a decision timeframe.
Q: What stood out about the visit?
Jackson: "The buildings are great. They're very old, but inside it's very new. Those were beautiful. The people are amazing. The team is great. The head coach is great. Defensive coordinator is great. Defensive line coach is great. It was an amazing experience. It was my first time on a plane getting up there. I got on four planes for the first time in my life in three days. Me and my mom had a great time. I didn't really feel like a recruit (Jackson clarified he meant he felt like a current player rather than a recruit) when I was there. It was beautiful. And the Dome. The Dome is crazy. It's air conditioned too. It was amazing. And their food."
Q: Who were your player hosts and what were they like?
Jackson: "My hosts were Josh (Black) and Curt (Harper). Two amazing guys. They both play on the defensive line. One's a nose and the other is a strong side tackle. Great guys. They took us out, we had a good time, things like that. We talked, they talked to my parents, we talked to the coaches like that. It was just a wonderful experience. They were mature, great guys to hang out with, they know how to have fun. It just was great."
Q: How was going to the arcade with the team and other recruits?
Jackson: "Now that was super fun. I was playing bowling. It was me, my mom, Josh and another guy. We were playing and I won the first game. The second game, me and my mom bet on a tattoo. She was like 'if I win, you got to get me a tattoo.' If I win, she's got to get me a tattoo. It was the 10th round came through, I was down and then I got a spare, which got me up seven points. All she had to do was knock down eight pins and she was going to beat me. But I ended up pulling out the dub, and I won. So she owes me a tattoo right now."
Q: What was it like spending time with the Syracuse coaches?
Jackson: "I talked to (defensive coordinator) Tony White a lot, and coach Reynolds. I talked to them a good bit. Tony White, we were just talking about life, things like that. A little bit of football, but not too much. Just talking about life, talking about my parents, academics, things like that. How good of an academic program SU has to push me in academics. Compete as hard as I do in football and just take those academics and work hard like that. With coach Reynolds, amazing guy. I met his child today. He's a real big family guy. Very cool. We talked ball for a good bit. We had a little time, too, where we talked straight ball. That was a good experience. They were saying I'm going to be the strong tackle. That would be very fun. They play all over the d-line. Just saying moving. It was a great experience talking to them."
Q: You mentioned the buildings on campus, but what about the football facilities?
Jackson: "The weight room was crazy. It was amazing there. The weight room coach, you can tell he has pride for this sport. This guy, he can do everything. Showing us how to weight lift, they did a little demonstration, and this guy did a push up and then a 360. Crazy. I've never seen it before. But the guy is really cool and I know, if I went there, he would get me right. He'll definitely get me right. He'll push you, but he'll love you at the same time. The locker room was amazing. It's very big. Very spacious. You'll be able to do what you need to do. The player lounge is nice also."
Q: What did the visit do for where Syracuse stands in your recruitment?
Jackson: "Honestly, they're at the top of my list. I liked it a lot. They're at the top of my list. When I got an offer from Syracuse, I knew it was going to be a tough decision between them and the other schools. Being able to get on campus and talk to the coaches in person, to the players, it really pushed it up there way more than it was. I can say Syracuse is in my top for sure."
Q: What are the next steps for you in your recruiting process?
Jackson: "I go to Coastal Carolina for an official on Friday (June 25th), I think. I'll probably make a decision a little bit before September. Or it might be sooner."