When a major program loses a key recruit, Rivals.com takes a look at how big of a blow it is to the respective school, analyzing it from a local and national level. To quantify the “sting” of each decommitment, we assign a score from one to 10, with one being no big deal and 10 being a catastrophic hit.
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The Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei cornerback committed to USC in January, said it was his dream to play for the Trojans down the road from family and friends and for position coach Donte Williams.
When Clay Helton was fired earlier this season, Jackson remained committed and talked up the possibilities he saw for the USC program.
But in recent days, and shortly after his visit to Alabama, the five-star cornerback backed off his pledge. In Tuscaloosa, he found round-the-clock football, dedication unlike anything he’s seen and a stable situation that could help develop him into an NFL talent.
With the current uncertainty at USC, Jackson said he needed to reopen his recruitment to investigate all three of his favorites – Alabama, Michigan and USC.
The Trojans are not eliminated from consideration, but after Jackson’s visit to Tuscaloosa this past weekend it looks like Alabama has the edge now.
“Jackson’s decommitment from USC on Sunday may not be final. The Trojans and Donte Williams will continue to recruit him hard, and if they can sell him on the new head coach once a hire is made, maybe they can rally late here – unless he commits elsewhere in the meantime and feels firm in that decision.
“But yes, this stings for USC, there’s no way around that. The Trojans have now lost both five-star commits they once had in this class, Jackson and DE Mykel Williams, who flipped to Georgia last month.
“Jackson’s commitment to USC last January was years in the making. He’s said that he had known for a long time that he wanted to be a Trojan, and the USC staff had worked for several years to secure that commitment. He’s the top-ranked player in the state, and losing another blue-chip recruit from their own backyard will definitely hurt the Trojans. It was always understood that there would be recruiting casualties in firing a head coach two weeks into the season, but Jackson was the one commit that looked like he may remain patient and see how this coaching search played out. In fact, he had said as much in recent months, that he was still sold on USC and would maintain his commitment as long as Williams was retained on staff.
“Clearly, his recent visit to Alabama and the continued push from the Crimson Tide – as well as Michigan – has given him enough doubt to take a step back, reminding everyone again that nothing is decided in recruiting until ink hits paper. It’s certainly understandable why Jackson would want to consider all of his options. USC just has to hope it remains one and still has a chance to sway him back once more.
“If not, then this decommitment will sting more than any since QB Bryce Young flipped to Alabama in the 2020 class.” – Ryan Young, TrojanSports.com
Sting Factor: 10
“Jackson really did try his hardest to stay committed to USC for so many reasons including his relationship with Williams, but there was just an overwhelming wave of reality that hit him after his Alabama visit: The Crimson Tide have everything in place to maximize his ability, challenge him to be the best and develop him for the pros – and USC just does not at this point. There are too many questions at USC, the first being who is going to even be the next head coach?
“Losing Mykel Williams hurt because he is a talented defensive end who could have had a lot of success in the Trojans’ defense. But he was from Georgia, committed on a whim over the summer and then backed off that to play for the in-state Bulldogs. Jackson is from right down the road. He plays at a high school that sends a lot of players to USC. But just like so many top prospects in Southern California right now, the lure of playing for the Trojans has dimmed and national powers are coming in and stealing much of the top talent.
“This score would have been a 10, but there is still a chance Jackson recommits to USC if the Trojans do everything possible the right way in the coming weeks. It’s unlikely, however, as I think the five-star is headed to Alabama.” – Adam Gorney, Rivals National Recruiting Director
Sting Factor: 9