Justin Jackson liked Colorado enough to take an official visit to the campus last weekend with his mother.
All he had to do was look at her during that visit to know that Boulder might be his future home.
“She couldn’t stop smiling,” Jackson said.
A defensive end from Northwest Mississippi Community College, Jackson announced his verbal commitment to CU for the class of 2020 on Tuesday. He was planning to wait until later this summer to announce his choice, but the influence of his mother, Donna Polk, led to Jackson realizing there was no reason to delay.
“I talked it over with my parents and my mom really did like it,” Jackson said. “She thinks this academic program and how the coaches are and the atmosphere of Colorado would fit me.”
Measured at 6-foot-2, 270 pounds during his visit to CU, Jackson certainly has the physical tools to play for the Buffaloes. He has played both defensive tackle and end in a 3-4 scheme and said he’s eager to prove himself at CU.
“The way that they play their defense fits my style,” said Jackson, who will play this fall at NMCC before enrolling at CU in the winter. “I think it’s very fast and up-tempo and that’s what we kind of do at Northwest; we’re fast and up-tempo. It’ll fit my style and I’m really excited to be a part of it.”
Coming out of Center Hill High School in Olive Branch, Miss., in 2018, Jackson didn’t have his academics in order, and that led him to go the junior college route. Academics played a role in his choice to play at NWCC.
“My mother really loved their coaching staff, as well, because they really helped me change myself as a person and academically,” Jackson said. “They have a great academic staff, as well, and that’s the reason I went to Northwest. The coaches there are really strong about their academics. They get on us about that.”
Jackson is taking a heavy class load this summer so that he can graduate in December and transfer to CU in the winter.
During his visit to CU, Jackson spent time with Mustafa Johnson, a standout Buffs’ defensive lineman who also took the junior college route. Jackson clicked with the Buffs’ coaching staff, but Johnson and other players made him feel even more comfortable about playing for head coach Mel Tucker and defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh.
“(Johnson) was just telling me how Jimmy Brumbaugh and coach Tucker are amazing coaches and that the atmosphere that they bring is just really great to the team,” Jackson said.
CU has recruited several players, including from junior colleges, from the South in recent years, which could help Jackson bond with teammates. Jackson, who grew up in Chicago until moving to Mississippi before high school, said the background of the other players wasn’t a factor for him, however.
“I think I’ll fit in well,” he said. “It’s not that hard for me to make friends.”
The main task for Jackson is to keep that smile on his mother’s face. He has been working hard to do that over the past year and doesn’t plan on stopping.
“My mother told me I should really stay on school and academics because she really wants me to go to Colorado and do great things,” he said. “That’s what I’m doing now. I’m trying to keep my grades up high so I won’t have to worry about anything (in Boulder).”
Former CU safety Hasaan Hypolite, who was dismissed from the program in April for a violation of team rules, has transferred to Houston. Hypolite grew up in the Houston area.