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Can Miami Hold off SEC Powers and Keep 4-Star DE Joseph Jackson Committed?

Tyler Donohue@@TDsTakeNational Recruiting AnalystFebruary 11, 2015

Credit: 247Sports

Miami currently maintains the top-rated 2016 recruiting class in 247Sports' national composite rankings, and local defensive end commit Joseph Jackson is a key part of the equation.

The 6'4", 229-pound prospect is one of three high school juniors who've pledged to the Hurricanes from Gulliver Prep of Miami-Dade County, Florida. Jackson is joined by fellow 4-star recruit Dionte Mullins, a wide receiver, and 3-star defensive back Cedrick Wright.

Despite his early pact with Miami, other programs remain motivated in their pursuit of the standout defender.

"It seems that other schools that I already had offers from have been recruiting me even harder," Jackson told Ryan Bartow of 247Sports.

He noted Alabama and South Carolina as particularly interested teams. The SEC squads have each extended scholarship offers, and no program bought into his potential earlier than the Gamecocks.

"They were actually the first school that offered me," Jackson said. "Plus they have a habit of sending defensive ends to the NFL."

South Carolina star Jadeveon Clowney was the top selection in last year's NFL draft.

Jackson, rated 18th nationally among strong-side defensive ends in 247Sports' composite rankings, rose to prominence as a sophomore when he tallied 44 tackles and seven sacks.

By the time last summer rolled around, his offer sheet expanded to include Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas, Florida State and Notre Dame.

Jackson verbally committed to Miami in January but, like all unsigned prospects, is free to alter his decision at any time. His outlook could change if the Hurricanes struggle again this season and undergo significant coaching staff revisions.

It seems South Carolina and Alabama are the strongest threats at this stage to flip him from a hometown commitment should he choose to look elsewhere.

The Gamecocks' pass rush struggled mightily last season. South Carolina managed to secure just 14 sacks in 13 games, ranking last in the SEC.

"Obviously our defense wasn't as strong as it's been in the past," coach Steve Spurrier told The Associated Press, via ESPN.com.

He aimed to address the issue by signing seven defensive ends in the 2015 class, including 4-star early enrollees Marquavius Lewis and Dexter Wideman.

A year after landing top-ranked defensive end Da'Shawn Hand, Alabama is set to welcome a pair of 4-star pass-rushers (Mekhi Brown and Anfernee Jennings) to campus this summer.

Nick Saban, seeking a sixth straight No. 1 recruiting class in 2016, has yet to establish his squad as a force in this cycle. Alabama holds just three commitments, compared to 13 for Miami.

The allure of a future in Tuscaloosa or Columbia could endure throughout this process for Jackson. Both programs present unique opportunities to compete for eventual Hall of Fame head coaches in star-studded SEC defensive attacks.

Still, his allegiance to the Hurricanes doesn't appear unstable as he approaches the final few months of junior year. It seems that his strong bond with fellow Miami-bound teammates will be hard to break.

"I picked Miami because of the opportunity to help rebuild the program," Jackson told Canesport.com (via Sun Sentinel's . "I'm staying where I'm with my brothers. We've been playing together since Pop Warner."

Recruit ratings and info courtesy of 247Sports.

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