After rushing for 1,100 yards and 17 touchdowns as a sophomore for the Division 2 state title winning Trotwood-Madison (Ohio) High Rams last fall, running back Ashton Jackson was going to pick up scholarship offers sooner than later.
Sooner came last week, when Illinois jumped on board and became the first team to offer the 5-foot-11, 182-pound back.
"I was expecting it, but it still shocked me," Jackson said. "I only got to speak with one of their coaches since they offered me. He said he was impressed with the way I run, and he is also impressed with the way I handle my schoolwork."
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Jackson will be playing alongside three-star class of 2013 defensive end Jarrod Clements this fall. Clements committed to the Illini earlier this week, and Jackson has several more teammates holding Illinois offers.
"I don't know that much about them, but I am excited about any DI scholarship," Jackson said. "Some of my friends, we've talked about going to their camp, so I'm sure I'm going to their camp."
An offer from Toledo quickly followed Illinois' offer, giving the sophomore two early scholarship opportunities. Additional interest has come in from schools like Pitt and Michigan during the Spring Evaluation period.
Jackson plans to capitalize on the recent interest by attending several camps this summer, and specifically mentioned South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio State, Kentucky and Wisconsin as likely destinations. Ohio State and Wisconsin recruit his school heavily, while the other three schools hold a common factor he views favorably.
"I have heard from them and they are in the SEC," Jackson said. "I know that the SEC has sent the most players to the NFL."