Dylan Jackson had a busy summer.
The Maryville (Tenn.) High School defensive end received scholarship offers from Tennessee, Duke and Vanderbilt and interest from several other schools.
But the 6-foot-6, 235-pounder has made it clear he’s not planning to rush through the recruitment process and has yet to establish a leader.
“I’m not thinking about any of that right now,” Jackson told InsideTennessee after his Rebels downed rival Alcoa (Tenn.) High School 31-2 on Aug. 30. Jackson tallied three tackles.
Jackson has received recent interest from Clemson, South Carolina and Georgia Tech. He visited Clemson’s spring game on April 13.
“I’ve been in contact with a bunch of programs,” the class of 2015 prospect said, “but I’m focused on the season right now.”
Once Jackson’s junior season is in the books, he plans to take a serious look at his suitors. He wants to commit sooner rather than later.
“I think I’ll start getting serious at the end of the season or way later in the season,” Jackson said. “I want to be one of the guys that goes in and helps recruit the other guys.”
Despite the fact that Jackson plays ball just 18 miles away from Neyland Stadium, he insists he never had a favorite college team growing up.
Jackson is originally from Illinois. He was raised a Bears and professional sports fan.
Jackson said he doesn’t have a dream scholarship offer.
But, it’s hard to avoid the traditions of Tennessee football in the greater Knoxville area. Jackson said the hype surrounding Butch Jones’ first season is beginning to wear off on him.
“Yeah, I have adopted some of the traditions down here,” Jackson said. “The passion is hard to ignore.”
Jackson said he speaks with Tennessee defensive line coach Steve Stripling on the phone once a week. He also said he is very close the Vols’ defensive coordinator John Jancek.
Jackson’s relationship with the coaching staff is what he likes most about Tennessee.
“I feel like I have a good relationship with the (Tennessee coaches),” Jackson said. “I feel like they’re very similar to our coaches here at Maryville.”
Jackson said he has visited Tennessee’s campus multiple times. He was on hand to witness the Vols’ 45-0 thrashing of Austin Peay on Saturday. It was Jackson’s first game on Rocky Top since the Akron game last season.
“I saw the Akron game last season,” Jackson said. “They almost lost that one. So that wasn’t good. I’m hoping to see better games this year.”
As a sophomore, Jackson registered 60 tackles and three sacks for a Maryville team that saw a 43-game winning streak snapped in the TSSAA Class 6A state championship.
Jackson said his biggest on-the-field strength is his physical style of play. He said he is focusing on improving his speed and ability to split double teams this season.
“The goal is to win a state championship,” Jackson said. “After that, I can start focusing on recruiting.”