PLANO, Tex. – Throughout the recruiting process Plano West defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat has remained quiet on where he will make his home as a college football player.
On Friday morning, in a gymnasium at his schools filled to the gills with his peers and media members, Jeffcoat spoke louder than at any time in the process and Texas Longhorn fans loved what came out of his mouth.
Jackson Jeffcoat, a five-star prospect and the No. 2 ranked prospect in the ESPNU 150, ended his long recruiting process by donning a burnt orange Texas cap and verbally committing to Texas becoming commitment No. 23 in the Longhorns’ 2010 recruiting haul (see complete commit list).
"I felt most comfortable at Texas," Jeffcoat said. "Not that I didn’t feel comfortable at other schools. That’s what made the decision so hard. All these schools are great schools. I just felt right at Texas."
Jeffcoat said he made the decision "a couple of days ago" and that it's "definitely a relief" given all the speculation surrounding his recruitment.
The No. 2-ranked prospect in the Inside Texas 2010 Top 100 said he plans to come in and work hard and although it wasn't promised, he believes he can earn some good playing time as a freshman. He added that one of his goals while in Austin is to win a national championship.
The commitment of Jeffcoat, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound playmaking defender, is huge for a number of reasons. Not only does the commitment give Texas another huge recruiting victory over Oklahoma (one of Jeffcoat’s three finalists along with Houston) but it gives Texas a potentially lethal defensive line rotation in the near future.
Jeffcoat joins a defensive line class for the Longhorns featuring Under Armour All-American defensive tackles Taylor Bible and Ashton Dorsey, defensive end Reggie Wilson (the state’s top prospect in the Inside Texas 2010 Top 100), four-star defensive tackle DeAires Cotton and four-star defensive end Greg Daniels.
Compile those talents with 2009 signees Calvin Howell, Derek Johnson, Kyle Kriegel and Tevin Mims and it’s easy to see why the Longhorns might have the best defensive line in the country in a short amount of time.
The journey to Texas for Jeffcoat was one that didn’t feature the drama of that of many other highly-ranked prospects. Jeffcoat’s trip through the recruiting process was quiet and professional and in the end is leading him to Austin.
The professionalism and lack of drama resonated from Jeffcoat’s father Jim Jeffcoat, a former Dallas Cowboy and current University of Houston assistant coach. The elder Jeffcoat took much of the burden of the recruiting process from his son allowing the younger Jeffcoat to focus on getting ready for his senior year of high school.
Jeffcoat was one of the first Longhorn prospects offered during last February’s initial Junior Day, but that was seemingly all that was heard from Jeffcoat for quite some time. Jeffcoat did not tip his hand throughout the process and throughout the spring and summer he only took a few unofficial visits, but one of those was to Texas for a basketball camp.
The number of schools chasing him officially dwindled right before his senior season on the gridiron started as Jeffcoat began to narrow his focus to six schools – Arizona State, Florida, Houston, Oklahoma, Texas and Southern Cal.
Jeffcoat was originally expected to take his first official visit to Texas in September for the Texas Tech game but he came down with the flu right before the visit and was forced to cancel the trip. Things pushed on and as Plano West’s season drew to a close Jeffcoat began making more visit plans.
The first visit was a November trip to Arizona State for a game against USC followed by a trip out to California to visit the Trojans. Then Jeffcoat took his long-awaited official visit to Texas on the weekend of Nov. 20 when the Longhorns blasted Kansas, 51-20, in the regular season home finale. The game day experience in Austin was a good one for Jeffcoat, who had a familiar face as his host.
“The visit was great. They really made me feel at home,” Jeffcoat said. “My host was Tre Newton and his dad played (Nate Newton) on the (Dallas) Cowboys with mine so I’ve known Tre for a while, so it was pretty fun. The game was fun getting to see them go out there, it was the seniors’ last game at Royal (Memorial Stadium) and it was a great atmosphere.”
Perhaps the best part of the visit for Jeffcoat was the time he spent with Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp and the team where he got to learn a little bit more about the ins and outs of the program.
“Just to see how they prepare for the game and all of that,” Jeffcoat mentioned when talking about what stood out during his visit. “Watching film with Coach Muschamp and the team and all of that, that was fun to do and I enjoyed it.”
Jeffcoat headed to San Antonio to be a part of the West team for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl with his recruitment seemingly shaking out. It was largely considered a two-horse race between Southern Cal and Texas but things changed on the day of the game.
News broke that Saturday morning that USC head coach Pete Carroll would indeed be leaving USC to return to the NFL. Jeffcoat said he would wait to see who the new head coach would be before making any type of decision on the Trojans, but shortly after Lane Kiffin was announced as the Trojans new head coach Jeffcoat eliminated USC from contention.
Florida fell off as well after the Gators own coaching uncertainties emerged in the wake of Urban Meyer’s leave of absence, in addition to Florida’s week-long run on defensive line commits.
Following an in-home visit from Texas’ Mack Brown, one final official visit to Oklahoma, an in-home visit from Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops and then one final visit from Texas assistant coaches Oscar Giles and Bobby Kennedy during a basketball game, Jeffcoat narrowed his focus to his three final schools.
In recent days it looked more and more like Jeffcoat was leaning toward Texas and news broke late Thursday night about Jeffcoat’s decision, which ultimately played out as some thought it would with his commitment to Texas on Friday.
In a January interview with Inside Texas, Jeffcoat gave rave comments on what he liked the most about Texas.
“Great education, they’ve got a good defense and a great coaching staff and the family atmosphere about them,” Jeffcoat said. “I like the family atmosphere they have.”
Now he will have plenty of time to get to feel the love as he heads to Austin to make his home for the next few years.