- Alex Scarborough, ESPN Staff Writer
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Louisiana, Minnesota, California. The University of Alabama has been willing to go wherever it needs to find its offensive linemen of the future.
On Tuesday, Nick Saban and the UA coaching staff got a bit of good news from the West Coast where junior college offensive tackle Dominick Jackson (San Mateo, Calif./College of San Mateo) flipped his verbal commitment from the UCLA Bruins to the Crimson Tide. The 6-foot-6, 310-pound prospect has the potential to be an instant-impact player for the Tide, which will likely have to replace two starting offensive linemen in 2014.
The potential for turnover no doubt aided in Jackson's decision. The Northern California native doesn't have to be an NFL general manager to look at Cyrus Kouandjio and see a top-10 pick in next year's draft, regardless of his underclassmen status. ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. already has the Tide's athletic starting left tackle for UA as his fourth-best prospect overall. Barring a surprise decision, the anchor position on the line will be wide open for Jackson to come in and compete at either in the spring or fall of next year when he enrolls.
The move to accept Jackson's commitment makes sense on Alabama's end as well as the Tide has signed just three offensive tackles over the past two classes: four-star prospect Brandon Greene in 2012 and junior college transfer Leon Brown and Hargrave Military Academy product Brandon Hill in 2013. Brown is a short-term option with just one year of eligibility remaining after this season and Hill is a question mark given his weight concerns having enrolled in January at a whopping 406 pounds.
Jackson, who is the 14th commitment of the 2014 class, might not be the only offensive tackle Alabama signs, though. The big fish is No. 1-rated tackle Cameron Robinson, who has Alabama and LSU in his top two schools he's considering. He told TideNation that if he does everything right, he's been told by the UA coaching staff that he could compete for a starting job as a true freshman.
But Jackson will have his say in that matter, whether it's Robinson or someone else who commits to UA in the coming months. Having come through the junior college ranks, Jackson will have a leg up in terms of maturity, both physically and mentally. Alabama's track record of junior college players, from Jesse Williams to Terrence Cody to DeQuan Menzie to Deion Belue, says that those signees play early and make the best of their remaining eligibility. Common sense, after all, dictates that if you're going to use a scholarship on a short-term player, you better make it count.
6dEdward Aschoff and Alex Scarborough
6dAlex Scarborough and Greg Ostendorf