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Top-ranked 2019 DL Savion Jackson secures Penn State offer days after first campus visit
Throughout this week, our daily Nittany Lions recruiting notebooks have focused on fearsome prospects along the defensive line. Coveted 2018 recruits such as Tyler Friday, Dorian Hardy and Micah Parsons each took a turn in our spotlight as pivotal Penn State targets.
Now wrapping up another busy week of updates on the recruiting trail, let’s shift our focus to the 2019 recruiting cycle. The Nittany Lions continue to increase interactions with athletes wrapping up their sophomore years in high school.
Though only midway through promising prep careers, plenty of these prospects already carry double-digit offer totals. North Carolina defensive lineman Savion Jackson — the No. 1 prospect in his state and No. 15 overall in 247Sports’ 2019 rankings — told Land of 10 he holds 11 offers, with the most recent arriving a week ago from East Carolina.
Penn State entered the picture April 24, just two days after Jackson made his first journey to campus. The Clayton High School player traveled north with his head coach, Hunter Jenks, and they had an opportunity to soak up the surroundings during a tour around Beaver Stadium.
“They have great fans, and you can tell those people really love their football team,” Jackson said.
Jackson said he enjoyed the experience, although he couldn’t stay too long in State College. He said his plans include a return trip to Happy Valley to explore program facilities in greater detail.
He received the news of a Nittany Lions offer less than 48 hours later. Jackson’s primary communication occurs with defensive line coach Sean Spencer and recruiting coordinator E.J. Barthel.
“I was surprised by the offer coming this early, but they believe in me as a person and as a player,” he said. “[Spencer] thinks I can bring something special to the defense.”
His alternative offers at this stage are predominantly regional. Along with ECU, schools such as Duke, North Carolina State, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia Tech are engaged in this recruitment, and he brought up a budding relationship with Clemson.
Jackson, among the oldest students in his grade at Clayton High School, will turn 18 during his junior season. He looks to build off a dominant 2016 campaign that put him on the national recruiting radar.
“I love the game of football and I really want to play at the college level,” Jackson said. “The best chance to do that is by bringing everything you have to this game. I try to get into the backfield every play, stopping runs or pressuring the quarterback.”
He spent plenty of snaps in opposing offensive backfields last fall. Jackson tallied 51 tackles — 19 for loss — and 11 sacks in 11 games, according to MaxPreps.
As his productivity increased. so did attention from the opposite sideline.
“At the beginning of my sophomore year no one really knew who I was, so I didn’t get any extra attention from teams we played against,” he said. “By the end of the season, they were all double-teaming me. One game, they even had a tackle, a guard and [an extra blocker] basically trying to triple-team me most of the time. That was hard.”
Though Jackson does occasionally slide inside, his primary position is DE, and that’s what he projects to play in college. 247Sports lists him No. 3 nationally among strongside DEs in early 2019 class rankings.
“Every college coach says I have a good motor,” Jackson said. “I’m always going 100 percent, even if I’m tired. My hand technique and moves are developing well.”
His initial college education plans involve the pursuit of a criminal justice degree, though Jackson acknowledged that could change before he enrolls in 2019.
Nittany Lions remain active with underclassmen in Virginia
Just last week, we documented Penn State’s efforts to land two sensational sophomores from Virginia — edge rusher Brandon Smith (Louisa County High) and RB Devyn Ford (North Stafford High). The state has been fertile territory for Franklin and staff, producing key 2017 signees such as DE Yetur Matos, and LBs Ellis Brooks and Brailyn Franklin.
The 2018 Nittany Lions class already includes a pair of Virginia products — RB Ricky Slade and OT Nana Asiedu.
Penn State fans can add another 2019 target to the list, as DB Cam’Ron Kelly was offered Friday afternoon. The No. 11 CB in 247Sports’ 2019 rankings shared the development on social media.
— Cam'Ron Kelly (@CamRonJKelly) May 5, 2017
Kelly, a 6-1, 190-pound playmaker from perennially talent-laden Oscar Smith (Chesapeake) High, is another recent State College visitor. He attended the spring game and expressed instant excitement about his latest potential landing spot Friday during a brief discussion with Land of 10.
“I’m highly grateful for it,” Kelly said of the offer. “It feels amazing, and I have a pretty good relationship with the staff.”
Tennessee offered him on Wednesday, and Penn State joins a list of options that includes Maryland, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
Kelly comes off a dynamic sophomore season that saw him excel on both sides of the ball.
He recorded 48 receptions for 753 yards and 5 touchdowns at WR, according to Scout.com. Kelly collected 35 tackles, 13 pass breakups and 8 interceptions in the defensive backfield.
We’re scheduled to catch up with Kelly for an extended conversation next week, so stay tuned to Land of 10 for the latest in his recruitment and thoughts on the new Nittany Lions offer.