It's never too late
Night after night went by without a word from Georgia Southern.
Michael Jackson kept hoping the Eagles would call.
He knew they were interested, he just didn’t know how much.
But Jackson never lost faith, and on the final night before National Signing Day, his phone finally rang a quarter till midnight.
On the other line?
The entire Georgia Southern coaching staff extending him a scholarship offer to play in Statesboro, Georgia in 2016.
Jackson didn’t hesitate.
He committed on the spot.
Ten hours later, he signed his name on the dotted line in the Columbia High gym to suit up for Georgia Southern next fall.
“Man, I was getting worried because I didn’t know if I would get that call or not but once it came I was just overjoyed,” Jackson said. “I was just excited. I was ready.”
Just eight days earlier Jackson decommitted from Tennessee-Martin, a school he was committed to since August. It was a hectic period for Jackson, who visited Southeastern Louisiana this past weekend after visiting Rhode Island the weekend before.
He loved those visits.
But neither held a candle to Georgia Southern.
“I know that’s where he wanted to go,” Columbia head coach Brian Allen said. “I looked at some of his highlights as this recruiting season has gone on and I’m dumbfounded that he didn’t have more (offers). He had an unbelievable season. The things he did were definitely (worthy) of a big-level player type scholarship. But he was like, ‘coach, I’m just going to keep my faith’ and right here at the end that faith was rewarded.”
Tight ends coach Chad Lunsford was the first to break the news to Jackson before the rest of the coaching staff chimed in on the phone. Jackson says they were just as excited as him.
Georgia Southern first caught a glimpse of Jackson this past summer at a camp at the school. Lunsford saw Jackson then and loved what he saw but then head coach Willie Fritz wasn’t biting.
Fritz has since left to coach at Tulane, replaced by Tyson Summers. Luckily for Jackson, Summers saw him at UCF’s camp in 2014 when he served as the school’s defensive coordinator.
Summers, like Lunsford, also never forgot about Jackson.
They just had find some room for him.
“The original plan was that if one receiver decommitted, then they were going to offer me,” Jackson said. “But they changed it to if anybody from any position decommitted, and I don’t know if anybody decommitted or not, but they just always got to me.”
Jackson says he’ll be a big part of Georgia Southern’s 4-wide receiver set in addition to returning kicks and punts.
It’s been a long road to Statesboro for Jackson.
He’s just glad he’s finally somewhere that feels like home.
“(Allen) said it’s going to be a long process, and I knew that, so he was just like ‘be patient’ and I got what I wanted,” Jackson said.