RTI recruiting contributor Landon Steffy is the author of this article
While Tennessee and its coaching staff are busy preparing for the start of the 2019 season with fall camp just around the corner, this staff is always at the helm recruiting. UT isn’t just looking at prospects in the 2020 class, though; the Vols are building relationships with recruits in the 2021 cycle as well. The recruiting momentum continued this week when one of the nation’s most sought-after offensive linemen for the 2021 class included the Vols in his top schools.
Per his Twitter account Tennessee made the top 12 for four-star offensive tackle Donovan Jackson from Bellaire, Texas. He measures in at a massive 6-foot-4, 308 pounds and plays for Episcopal High School. Other schools making the top 12 include Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Stanford, Texas A&M, and Texas.
— Donovan Jackson (@D_jack78) July 8, 2019
According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Jackson is a borderline five-star prospect. He’s the No. 34 overall player, No. 7 offensive tackle, and No. 6 player in the state of Texas. As a rising junior, he already holds over 30 scholarship offers.
Jackson tested exceptionally well at a regional camp for The Opening back in March, recording a 5.38-second 40-yard dash, a 4.85-second shuttle, and a 30-inch vertical. His wingspan measured in at over 6 feet, 8 inches. He was invited to The Opening Finals as well, and he showed out there, too.
At the Finals, Jackson recorded a shuttle run of 4.63 seconds and had the best vertical leap among all the offensive linemen there with a 32.2-inch leap. According to Charles Power of 247Sports, Jackson won the MVP award for the O-line.
“2021 offensive lineman Donovan Jackson won the positional MVP for his showing in 1-on-1’s and also posted some strong numbers with a 4.63 shuttle and 32.2 inch vertical (best among OL) at 6-foot-4, 305 pounds,” Powers wrote. “It would be in Jackson’s best interest to not gain any more weight, but he’s already posting some very strong numbers as a rising junior.”
On Jackson’s film, his strength is the first thing that stands out. He hands out numerous pancake blocks, viciously taking his opponents to the ground. He shows off bursts of his strength, often times sending his opposing defender ragdolling to the ground. He prides himself on playing till the whistle blows. He shows a very good first punch, often locking on to opponents with his huge wingspan. He is an absolute road grader in the run game, easily making holes for running backs. He looks to be settling in to his frame and will likely have to work on his footwork at the next level.
While his recruitment is still very early on in the process, Tennessee has already done a good job with one of the premier talents in the 2021 class. Jackson has not made it in to Knoxville for a visit yet, so that will be a priority for UT’s staff. He has visited Ohio State and Texas A&M so far this year.
Tennessee will likely push for a visit this upcoming season to give Jackson a first-hand look at the program. Getting improvement from the offensive line this fall will be key for Tennessee in a number of areas, but particularly in Jackson’s recruitment.