AUBURN, Ala. — The recruiting process ended earlier than expected for Alec Jackson.
A few days before Christmas, the Montgomery (Ala.) defensive lineman started to feel the urge to commit. It had always been his dream to commit on National Signing Day. But the moment felt right — and the prayers suggested it was time. The dream of being an Auburn Tiger stood taller.
Jackson became the team’s first defensive line commit in the 2017 class. For the first time since his commitment, Jackson returned to the Plains for an official visit that provided reassurance regarding his decision.
“I always wanted to play for Auburn. It’s a dream of mine. To see my dream almost coming true is just overwhelming,” Jackson said. “I felt like I was at home. They welcomed me with open arms … I knew that I was going to have a good time here.”
He took part in the usual official visit activities — went to Gus Malzahn’s house, enjoyed the new student-athlete game room and hung out with future teammates — but he appreciated the reassurance that, just because he committed, he remained a priority.
“Just being an Auburn fan, you just see the indoor facility and the stadium. Finally going deeper into the campus, Auburn is a really big school,” Jackson said. “Especially the engineering part of the campus. They’re still doing a lot of building out there. It was just a great experience seeing all the things that Auburn has to offer.”
Jackson started to gravitate toward Auburn, once and for all, around the Alabama-Mississippi all-star game. He practiced with commits KJ Britt, Noah Igbinoghene, Jordyn Peters, Malcolm Askew and Tadarian Moultry. The bond he formed with those prospects made Auburn seem like the right fit.
He also connected with another defensive line prospect Auburn is desperately chasing: Ryan Johnson.
After his official visit Sunday, when asked who he wants to join him on the defensive line, Jackson didn’t hesitate in his response. Jackson wants the fellow in-state defensive lineman to join the Class of 2017.
That tandem messaged one another prior to Jackson’s commitment. He wanted to assess where Johnson was at. Jackson went ahead and hopes Johnson will follow.
“Ryan (Johnson), before I even committed, I was like, ‘What you want to do, man?’ He said he doesn’t know. He’s still weighing his options,” Jackson said. “I don’t want to pressure nobody. If somebody tries to pressure me — that’s just the type of guy I am.”
At the Under Armour All-American Game, Johnson spoke about Auburn’s only defensive line commit. Johnson and Jackson began corresponding more regularly following the Alabama-Mississippi all-star game.
Johnson was one of the first to congratulate Jackson following his commitment.
“I thought that was pretty big,” Johnson said. “I didn’t even know he was going to do it. I had a pretty good idea he was going to Auburn. I’m happy for him … He’s a pretty good player. He’s big. He carries his weight well.”
To give an idea of Auburn’s desire to land both, the entire defensive staff hit the road Monday. Gus Malzahn, Kevin Steele, Rodney Garner, Travis Williams and Greg Brown all traveled to Montgomery to start the day to see Jackson. Considering Jackson just took his official visit, it shows how important Auburn feels it is to secure Jackson for good.
He hinted at still taking an Ole Miss official visit this weekend. That decision hasn’t been finalized. (Update: Jackson won’t take any more official visits, he told SEC Country on Monday night. That’s it for Jackson’s recruitment). Jackson no longer will go to Florida the last weekend of January. But Auburn is in unbeatable shape here. The back-to-back OV and in-home sealed the deal in a big way.
The defensive staff also will be in Mobile for an in-home visit with Johnson on Monday night. He returned from his Stanford official Sunday night. Johnson also will host the Texas staff. Johnson said Monday he is narrowing in on a decision. He officially visits Auburn this weekend and Alabama the last. Johnson will squeeze a trip to Austin, Texas, in between, but he already might have a decision by then.
It’s a weaker defensive line cycle in 2017. If Auburn could land these two in-state options, it would be a major recruiting win.