Albert Jackson, a 6-foot-10, 240-pound center/power forward/wide receiver, was a surprise for defensive coordinators on the football field this season. And surprise is also the word college coaches are using when discussing the big man from Hopkins County Central High School. The class of 2006 prospect is a new name in the national recruiting world and he's got a long list of big-time suitors.
With his giant size, solid hands and good athleticism, his football coaches saw an opportunity to utilize the 16-year-old's natural gifts for a quick score.
"Coach would put me in every time we were within 20 yards of the goal line and everybody knows what we were going to do," Jackson said. "Coach said, 'Go rebound the ball.' So that's what I did."
Jackson said he caught five touchdowns in the first two games but teams caught on quickly to what the offensive game plan was when the mammoth receiver took to the field. His production slowed as the season went along. Is Jackson the next Martellus Bennett, the nation's No. 7 ranked player in the nation on the gridiron and one of the top hoop stars in the nation?
"I'm going to give it up because I want to play college basketball," Jackson said. "I don't want to get hurt, especially when college basketball is my dream."
Not familiar with Jackson as a basketball prospect? Don't worry, a lot of people don't. Playing with the Eddie Ford Hoopstars on the AAU circuit, Jackson said he may have flown a bit under the radar but he's being recruited by some of the top teams in the country.
His dream is full of big time options. Jackson said his top five schools are Michigan State, Illinois, Xavier, Tennessee and Western Kentucky. All of those schools have been out to watch him this season while Georgia, Louisville, Xavier and others are coming in to watch the big man in the coming weeks.
Jackson has also unofficially visited Illinois, Michigan State, Ohio State, Xavier, Tennessee and Western Kentucky. Already ahead of the curve, he said he has an official visit date set up with Xavier on Feb. 5 and an official visit to Illinois is already in the works with a date close to being cemented.
As mentioned, Jackson's top five schools - Michigan State, Illinois, Xavier, Tennessee and Western Kentucky - each have things working in their favor.
"With Michigan State, Xavier and Western Kentucky, they were the first teams to really show me interest and they've really been good to me," Jackson said. "They were there before I realized that I could be a good player if I just applied myself. And they've stuck with me throughout it all."
And Illinois and Tennessee?
"(With Illinois), Coach (Bruce) Weber is a guy with good energy and he has that personality that makes you want to be around him," he said. "I like watching their style of play and I like his style of coaching. He'll get into you but he'll also teach you.
"(With Tennessee), I really like (Buzz) Peterson because he was a UNC guy and I'm a big UNC fan. People around here love Kentucky and Louisville but I hate those schools. So with Tennessee, I like coach Peterson a lot because of his ties. Plus, I've gotten great feedback from (current Vol freshman) Chris Lofton, who was Mr. Basketball here in Kentucky last year, and he loves it there."
With a top five, some official visits already lined up and a good feel for the entire recruiting process, Jackson said a decision isn't necessarily coming soon.
"That's the only part I don't have figured out yet," he laughed. "I know my grades are good enough that I don't have to worry about any of that so right now, I kind of want to wait a while and see how everything goes."