Jackson learned his lesson

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Aikeem Jackson will sign a Division I-A offer to play college football next month.

The former North Augusta Yellow Jacket has an offer from Middle Tennessee State. He also holds offers from The Citadel and Coastal Carolina.

Some day he'll be proud to say he played Division I-A football. Right now, it's just a relief.

The past year of his life has been pretty hard for him.

Jackson (6-3, 236) should have graduated last spring. He should have signed a Division I-A football scholarship last February.

But he's at Prince Avenue Prep now because of bad choices.

"I got expelled at the end of my freshman year," he said. "I was only a month away from finishing up. I had disciplinary problems and school suspensions. It was too late in the year to go to alternative school so I had to repeat ninth grade. So I was a freshman in class but a sophomore in football. My junior year in class was my senior year of football eligibility."

The hardest part was moving away from friends. Some teammates went on to college ball.

He still had a year to go. He chose to finish at Prince Avenue Prep. The defensive end prospect had a monster year this fall with 127 tackles and 11 sacks.

But he said it was like moving to a ghost town.

"I must have played a thousand games on football on the PlayStation," he said. "It's in a town called Pickens (S.C.) that may be about as boring as it gets. But in a way it's what I needed. I needed to get away and stay out of trouble."

When he comes home and goes to parties and sees his peers drinking, he knows that's a path he doesn't need to follow.

"I've been down a pretty rough road already," he said. "I just want to stay around positive people and in a positive environment."

Jackson already has a qualifying ACT score.

DOMINOES: Fans of the Atlanta Falcons might have been indifferent to the hiring of Louisville's Bobby Petrino as the team's new coach. The area's prep football players seem to like it.

Petrino's departure meant a loss of interest in recruits who favored the school. New Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe doesn't have a name that carries the same weight with players like New Jersey's Matt Simms. The son of Super Bowl XXI MVP and current CBS analyst Phil Simms de-committed from the team after Petrino's exit.

Hephzibah's T.J. Lynch might see Petrino's career climb as a blessing. Lynch has rocketed up Louisville's board of late. He will make an official visit to check out the Cardinals.

Hephzibah coach John Bowen said tackle James Carpenter (6-3, 305) may end up at Troy or Iowa State. Carpenter had committed to Georgia Southern this fall.

That was before Eagles head coach Brian VanGorder resigned to join Petrino in Atlanta. Expect the same ripple effect from his recruits. The mutual affection may not be the same with new Georgia Southern head coach Chris Hatcher.

Hatcher was recruiting several area players such as Washington County's Rosco Walls (5-9, 175) to join him at Valdosta State. They may no longer be coveted by new Valdosta State coach David Dean.

But some of them could wind up with Hatcher in Statesboro.

QUICK HITS: Strom Thurmond safety Keon Cunningham has verbally committed to Coastal Carolina. ... North Augusta senior Treh Haynes has official visits set up with Air Force, Charleston Southern and Newberry College. ... Classmate D.J. Anderson will make trips to Brevard College, Newberry and North Greenville College. ... Former North Augusta standout Richard Bush spent the past year with Jackson at Prince Avenue Prep. He has visits scheduled with Coastal Carolina and Tusculum College. ... Former Laney coach Eric Parker said receiver Calvin Britt "blew his latest SAT test out of the water." Britt is considering enrolling at Navy and he could wind up playing there.

Reach Jeff Sentell at (706) 823-3425 or jeff.sentell@augustachronicle.com.


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