Lucedale (Miss.) George County five-star defensive lineman McKinnley Jackson traveled to compete in the Nike Opening Regional in the Atlanta area on Sunday, hoping to earn an invitation to The Opening Finals which will take place this summer in Frisco, Texas.
The coveted defensive tackle prospect got just what he was looking for when he received an Opening Finals invite following a standout performance at the regional, especially during the one-on-one portion of the event that saw him dominate opposing offensive linemen at times.
The Clemson Insider was on hand at Stockbridge (Ga.) High School for The Opening Atlanta Regional and caught up with Jackson there.
“Every time I go one-on-one, I just want to obviously win,” Jackson said. “If I don’t do that, then I feel like I failed myself.”
The 6-foot-2, 325-pound Jackson showcased great technique and off-the-ball speed for his size, traits that helped him total 91 tackles, including 32 for loss and 11.5 sacks, as a junior last season.
As good as he already is, Jackson is not satisfied. The nation’s top-ranked defensive lineman according to Rivals wants to keep improving as a player.
“My game could be better,” he said. “I’m not afraid to admit that my game’s not where it should be. It could be way better than what it is.”
Clemson is one of the many programs vying for Jackson’s services. The Tigers are pursuing him hard, with defensive tackles coach Todd Bates leading the charge as his primary recruiter.
“I love coach Bates,” Jackson said. “He’s a great guy. He bleeds Clemson. The coaches at Clemson, they bring in pretty good guys.”
“They have a really good chance,” Jackson added of Clemson. “Especially with them recruiting me, how they’re recruiting me.”
Jackson received an offer from Clemson last September and has visited campus before. There is a chance he could return for the Orange & White spring game on April 6.
“I’m going to try to get up there for the spring game,” he said.
Jackson doesn’t have any visits planned for sure right now but named Ole Miss as another spring game that he is looking to potentially attend.
He plans to make his decision at one of the All-American bowl games following his upcoming senior season.
What are the most important factors Jackson is looking for in a school as he goes through the recruiting process?
“Just who can better me as a man, as a player, who can help me out beyond football,” he said.
Jackson declined to mention any favorites right now but hinted that he could release his top schools this summer. He is ranked by Rivals as the No. 1 prospect from the state of Mississippi, No. 1 defensive tackle nationally and No. 25 overall prospect in the 2020 recruiting class.
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