Pine-Richland’s Miguel Jackson identifies 9 finalists, wants to visit every campus

Monday, June 22, 2020 | 12:43 AM

Pine-Richland defensive lineman Miguel Jackson set out to pick eight finalists from his list of 30 college offers, but that task proved harder than expected.

“It was difficult to choose,” he said. “I was planning on doing a Top 8, but another school came in.”

So, Jackson created a Top 9.

The 6-foot-2, 265-pound rising senior cut his list to Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Coastal Carolina, Delaware, James Madison, Liberty, Louisiana-Monroe, Old Dominion and Villanova. In the coming weeks, he hopes to make an even harder decision.

Jackson wants to commit this summer, play his senior season at Pine-Richland and then enroll early at whichever school he picks. He doesn’t want to commit to somewhere he hasn’t seen in person, so he’s making travel plans now.

“I want to take part in spring ball, start lifting and get into the playbook,” he said. “I want to get a head start on everything.”

Jackson used a list of categories to narrow his options. Those criteria included coaching, location, success in recent years, fan base, facilities and campuses.

He sees similarities in the nine finalists.

“All of them have really good coaches, a really great campus atmosphere and great academics,” Jackson said.

If he visits all nine, that would take him to six states besides Pennsylvania. Three schools — Old Dominion, James Madison and Liberty — are in Virginia. The closest out of state is Bowling Green, so he believed he’d start his recruiting visits there.

“I plan on going to all of them,” he said.

The coronavirus pandemic disrupted the recruiting process for most prospects in the 2021 graduating class. Jackson had initially envisioned he’d commit in May, but stay-at-home orders kept him from traveling. An ongoing NCAA dead period will prevent face-to-face visits with college coaches until at least August.

Forced to adapt, he’s built relationships with coaches through online chats. He said he communicates with coaches almost daily.

They want him to play defensive line but whether that’s at tackle or end isn’t decided. The standout pass rusher had 23½ sacks in the past two seasons combined.

Some recruits in his position have committed after taking only a virtual tour of their future home.

That’s not his plan.

“I definitely want to see the place and see where I fit,” Jackson said. “I want to see the campus in real life.”

Chris Harlan is a TribLive reporter covering sports. He joined the Trib in 2009 after seven years as a reporter at the Beaver County Times. He can be reached at


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