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Trieu: Hoopster Jackson a sudden star in football recruiting

By Allen Trieu, Special to The Detroit News
Alaric Jackson

Basketball is king right now with March Madness and the state tournament in full swing, but it is no longer the primary focus for Alaric Jackson. A 6-foot-7, 285-pound junior from Detroit Renaissance, Jackson played basketball and only basketball his first two high school years. He still does, starring for the Phoenix this season, but it is football where he has now truly made his mark.

With his size and the athleticism hoops has helped him with, Jackson is a prototypical left tackle prospect, which is why, even despite his relative inexperience, colleges from across the country have come calling, including Michigan State, who offered him a scholarship recently.

"This was his first year," Renaissance head football coach Tony Elliott said. "He's very bright, very intelligent. I think when he was younger, he played little league, but he was a skill guy. But we got him, and it was not easy to get the kid into a three-point stance. He picked up blocking assignments quickly. He picked them up so well, we'd be sitting in meetings when go over stuff, and he'd teach the other guys assignments."

The Spartans are no strangers to recruiting at Renaissance. Recent Phoenix grads who have signed with MSU include Chris Norman, Mylan Hicks, Dana Dixon and Lawrence Thomas, and Jackson is close with Thomas.

"I'm hyped. It's a great offer," Jackson says. It's a great school. I have friends that go there like Lawrence Thomas, I talk to him. But there's no set position right now, I just need to keep going through the process."

After joining football on a whim, and with the coaxing of some of his coaches, Jackson now has his choice of top colleges to play for as Nebraska, Purdue, Kentucky and others have offered, and more may be on the way. What he has accomplished in a short amount of time is not lost on him, and he is using it as fuel to continue to work on his game.

"It's actually relieving I don't have to pay for college," he said. It was my first year and I was excited to play football, so to have an offer like this is a blessing. I'm still working. This offseason I want to work on getting stronger, bigger, and my footwork."

Jackson has visited Michigan State and plans to again, although the track season and AAU basketball will make it tough for him to get to too many places. Elliott says he is not necessarily tied to staying in-state, but the Spartans are certainly on his list of schools under strong consideration.

The Spartans have developed talented, raw athletes into top performers, and few prospects in the state, and possibly in the country, have the upside of Jackson.

"He could be a very dominating football player," Elliott said. "First of all, he has the smarts to pick up techniques and assignments, but he also has the toughness. He's a tough, physical football player and obviously, he has the size. Once he gets into a lifting program -- weights, meals, he's going to be huge, especially with his frame and how long his arms are."

Blue chip OT sets next visit

According to Scout's Brian Dohn, Reading (Pa.) Exeter offensive tackle Michal Menet will visit Michigan State April 1-2. Menet, ranked as the nation's No. 3 offensive tackle and 31st overall player on Scout, will visit Penn State at the end of the month. Both the Spartans and Nittany Lions made the 6-foot-5, 265-pound prospect's recent top five along with Duke, Ohio State and Stanford.

Spartans offer Kentucky commit

Jaylin Bannerman, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound defensive end from Pickerington (Ohio) Central, was offered by Michigan State this week, just two weeks after the junior committed to Kentucky. Bannerman, who is originally from Michigan, visited MSU early last month and called the visit "breathtaking." Publicly, Bannerman has only re-affirmed his pledge to the Wildcats. Michigan State flipped two Kentucky commits, twins Andrew Dowell and David Dowell, in the 2015 class.

More information

Alaric Jackson profile

Michal Menet profile

Jaylin Bannerman profile

Allen Trieu began covering the state of Michigan for Scout.com in 2005 and began managing the entire Midwest in 2009. He has been featured on the Big Ten Network on its annual Signing Day Show. His Michigan and Michigan State recruiting columns appear weekly at detroitnews.com.