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MSU commit Chris Jackson stands out in opener
Chris Jackson didn’t start a high school football game until his junior season, and a year ago the Lassiter (Marietta, Ga.) cornerback was a relative newcomer to the sport. Now a senior committed to Michigan State, he feels like a new player.
“I’m definitely more confident in myself and my abilities,” Jackson said. “Now me being a senior on the team, I’ve taken a leadership role. Instead of just playing for myself, I have to make sure the young guys are doing what they’re supposed to do.”
The increased confidence showed early last Friday as Lassiter opened its season against Johns Creek (Ga.). On the Johns Creek’s second play from scrimmage, Jackson faced off against fellow 3-star prospect (in the 247Sports composite ratings) Zach Williams and showed his agility, stopping on a dime to pick off a pass. He took it 71 yards for a touchdown.
Five yards from the goal line, Jackson held the ball out in front of himself, and once he crossed into the end zone he immediately placed it on the ground. Mistaking the move for taunting, an official flagged Jackson, but the penalty ultimately was nullified.
“It was definitely exciting,” Jackson said of the play. “It really gave our team a big boost of energy.”
Lassiter would win the game 45-21, with Jackson battling Williams almost the entire way. Each player had his moments, with Williams posting 142 receiving yards and a touchdown.
“He was definitely a big, tall receiver,” Jackson said of the 6-foot-3 Williams, who stands 2 inches taller than him. “It was different. I just had to get more physical with him on the line.”
Jackson and Lassiter got what they came for: a 1-0 start to the season. No other Michigan State commit has played a game yet. After the game, Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio and defensive backs coach Harlon Barnett sent their congratulations.
They have been in close contact as Jackson looks to set up visits. He likely won’t take his official visit until basketball season, when he can spend more time with the staff, but having family in Michigan means he will be in town this fall.
First, Jackson will take in the season opener against Bowling Green on Sept. 2. He also plans on bringing teammate and Notre Dame safety commit Derrik Allen to Michigan State when the Spartans host the Irish on Sept. 23.
Jackson committed in March but continues to hear from other schools. Indiana, Wake Forest and Pittsburgh (coached by former Spartans defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi) have all sent mail recently.
“But for the most part,” Jackson said, “it’s all shut down because everyone pretty much knows I’m all in for Michigan State.”
Spartans stand apart from others with 3-star TE/DE
Michigan State has its coveted tight end in the 2018 class. Four-star Pickerington (Ohio) Central prospect Trenton Gillison, the highest-rated player of the lot, fills the Spartans’ needs at the position.
But they continue to go after 3-star TE Elijah McAllister, a Rumson (N.J.) Fair Haven senior with a hefty haul of offers from top academic programs such as Boston College, Columbia, Princeton and Virginia. McAllister explained to 247Sports’ Brian Dohn what makes the Spartans stand out.
“The difference about Michigan State compared to other schools: They want me to play defensive end, so that’s kind of different,” McAllister said. “I’m not really sure what I want to play in college. … The Michigan State coach sat down with me, and he said I could be a first-round talent at defensive end. I believe it.”
Michigan State already has three commitments from defensive linemen: Parks Gissinger, Jacob Slade and Zachary Slade. However, the Spartans have kept up their pursuit of several defensive tackles. McAllister, though not a tackle, bears an imposing physical presence with his 6-6 frame.
Maryland, Tennessee and others have offered, while powerhouses such as Michigan and Ohio State have shown interest. But for now, according to his chat with Dohn, the Spartans seem to have the upper hand.
“I could definitely see myself there more so really [than] any place as of right now,” McAllister said.