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July 7, 2008Josh Williford isn't the only offensive lineman that has Ole Miss fans and coaches on pins and needles these days.
The Rebels need help in the offensive trenches _ first-year coach Houston Nutt has indicated that he'd like to sign as many as six offensive linemen in February 2009 _ and several top players at that position are headed for early decisions and have Ole Miss very much in the mix.
Knoxville (Faragut), Tenn., offensive guard Will Jackson is one of those players.
"In my mind, I've gotten it narrowed down to a few schools and I want to take a look at them a second time before I make a decision," Jackson said.
Jackson said Wake Forest, Ole Miss, Georgia Tech and Auburn are on the top of his list right now. He's got offers from the Demon Deacons, Rebels and Yellow Jackets.
"Auburn hasn't offered," Jackson said. "I'm going to go to their camp next weekend and see if that changes. Beyond that, no one's really been ruled out."
Stanford, Louisville, West Virginia and Vanderbilt are also in the mix but the top four seem to be separating from the pack. Jackson, a 6-foot-4, 280-pounder ranked No. 29 at his position by Rivals.com, has been to Wake Forest twice already. Following his trip to the Plains this weekend, he's hoping to take follow-up visits to Ole Miss and Georgia Tech. It's possible he'll be in attendance at the Rebels' July 26 invitation-only camp, though Jackson said that likely interfered with Faragut's fall camp.
As for his relationship with Ole Miss coaches, Jackson said he calls Ole Miss quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator Kent Austin once every two or three weeks.
"I talk to Coach Austin for an hour or an hour and a half when we talk," Jackson said. "He's a really nice guy. We have a cool relationship. I talk to (Ole Miss offensive line) Coach (Mike) Markuson some too. I like him. He's gotten a lot of his players into the NFL. And I really like Coach Nutt."
The other finalists have long lists of positives as well.
"Wake Forest offers a great combination of academics and athletics. The offensive line coach (Steed Lobotzke) is a really great guy. He showed me how I could come in and compete for a starting job early and (Wake Forest) Coach (Jim) Grobe is a lot like Coach Nutt.
Georgia Tech is in Atlanta. They've been to 11 straight bowl games, and bringing in Coach (Paul) Johnson is only going to improve that. They're pretty much all even. I really like Auburn a lot, but they're not like my dream school. I'm not going to just go down there and commit on the spot (if Auburn offers)."
Jackson said a decision could be imminent, but there's a catch.
"The wildcard there would be Stanford," Jackson said. "They offered me about a month ago. I might have to wait until after September to go on an official visit. I'm still kind of 50-50 on that."