Since the 2013 football recruiting class was made official in February and I officially began paying real attention to 2014 recruiting, running back Justin Jackson has been one of the local kids I've had my eye on. The four-star back out of suburban Chicago's Glenbard North is one of the better players in the state and would look nice in orange and blue.
It's just that every time Jackson talks about his recruitment the three schools that have come up over and over again have been Northwestern, Iowa and Vanderbilt. So while I'd still like Jackson in Champaign, I've pretty much given up hope that it will happen.
But now that might change.
In a recent talk with EdgyTim.com, Jackson said he's going to give Illinois a chance.
"Illinois has been showing more and more interest in me and I've been talking more to the coaches over the last few weeks in particular," said Jackson. "I honestly just feel that I need to get down to Illinois and give them a chance. They are the in-state school and I never really have had a chance to sit down and really talk to the coaches. I also want to get to know some of the players and I just feel that I owe it to myself to give Illinois a chance and a fair shake. I'm looking forward to the visit."
That visit will take place this weekend, and it was pretty unexpected, so this is a welcome development.
Of course, I'm not sure that it means anything, either. Jackson hasn't made a secret of the fact that Northwestern is still his favorite, and I'm not sure giving Illinois this last-minute "chance" is going to change that. That being said, if Illinois really is going to be Jackson's last visit before he makes a decision -- and Jackson says he could make a decision "pretty soon" -- I suppose it's not a terrible thing to be in a place to get the "last word."
Maybe the Illini staff should show Justin a list of all those running backs in the NFL from Illinois and compare it to the list of NFL running backs from Northwestern. And then, just to be safe, show Justin the list of Iowa running backs who have died of dysentery in the last week. Or maybe only some of the dead Iowa running backs. A weekend only lasts so long.