Blog Entry

Highly rated FS Jackson returns for Tennessee

Posted on: July 7, 2011 12:09 pm
 
The Tennessee Volunteers welcomed back arguably their best player Wednesday, when junior free safety Janzen Jackson enrolled in the second session of summer classes, after having left the team in early February to deal with personal issues. Due to an NCAA waiver that allows athletes to miss one semester, Jackson is eligible to participate fully in the Vols' preseason camp in August and in the 2011 season.

Jackson, 6-0 and 190 pounds, proved well worth all of his hype as one of the better prep defensive back prospects in the country in 2009. Since signing with Tennessee, he's started 22 of 23 games for the Volunteers. He had 69 tackles last season and tied for tops on the team with five interceptions, including one against T.J. Yates and North Carolina in a double-overtime loss in the Music City Bowl. For his efforts, he was designated a Second Team All-SEC pick last year.

When Jackson elected to leave the team in February, Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley put to bed any doubt about the program's support of their young star, at least according to this article from Austin Ward of GoVolsXtra.com.
“Janzen continues to battle personal issues of which our program is always going to be very supportive of,” Dooley said. “His withdrawal from school has nothing to do with disciplinary reasons on the football team and everything to do with a continuing battle of deep personal issues, of which we’re very supportive of.”

The 2012 crop of free safeties at this point appears to be just an average class. It isn't difficult to understand why. Three free safety prospects that were originally part of the 2012 class already left early for the NFL -- former Texas Longhorn standout Earl Thomas (poised to enter his second season with the Seattle Seahawks after leaving as a redshirt sophomore), another Texas product in Aaron Williams (who played corner at Texas, but some project as a safety for the Buffalo Bills) and former UCLA Bruins star Rahim Moore (now a Denver Bronco). Thomas was a first round pick in 2010. Williams and Moore were among the first 13 picks of the second round in April.

With speed, instincts, ball skills and surprising physicality given his relatively slight frame, Jackson has already demonstrated the characteristics NFL scouts are looking for at free safety. As it stands now, NFLDraftScout.com rates Michigan State's Trenton Robinson and Boise State's George Iloka as the top senior free safety prospects for the 2012 draft. Both are viewed as only 3rd-4th round prospects, however, which could push underclassmen like Jackson, USC's T.J. McDonald and Alabama's Robert Lester, among others, to consider making the jump early.

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