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Jackson makes Tech official; Encarnacion, Harrill choose

Will Jackson said he’s “got a good chance to get some playing time at center” as a true freshman with the up-and-coming Georgia Tech football program in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

But as first reported at Farragut First Edition,, Feb. 4, academics was the first point of emphasis for Jackson, a 6-foot-4, 287-pound two-time All-state offensive lineman at Farragut High School, as it was for teammate Alex Encarnacion about their new college choices.

About the Yellow Jackets, “it’s a great academics school and I’m excited to go down there and get a nice education,” said Jackson, who along with Encarnacion’s choice of Elon (N.C.) University (Southern Conference, Division 1-AA) made their decisions official during a ceremony on college football’s National Signing Day Wednesday, Feb. 4, in FHS’s Lynn E. Sexton Gymnasium concourse.

Jackson, a Tennessee Mr. Football Lineman Finalist in Class AAA (top three) who was named to The Tennessean’s Dream Team (top 22 state players, all classes combined), said he’ll probably major in business management.

Encarnacion also emphasized academics as a huge factor. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound All-Region 2-5A defensive back/outside linebacker said, “Elon is a great school, it’s a place academically that can offer me a lot and give me a lot of opportunities for my future.”

Meanwhile, James Harrill, a 6-foot-2, 307-pound former FHS standout offensive lineman in 2007 (Class of 2008) who played at Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy last fall, has signed with Gardner-Webb, a NCAA Division II school in Boiling Springs, N.C.

“I am happy for him and what he’s accomplished,” FHS head coach Eddie Courtney said of Harrill.

Jackson, who also considered Ole Miss and Wake Forest, was named Region 2-5A Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2008.

As for Jackson’s on-the-field reasons for choosing Tech, “Coach [Paul] Johnson, I mean his record is excellent in terms of winning and producing championships.”

Tech coaches “said they were going to start me out at center, and they were probably going to slide me out, try me out at guard and tackle. [Johnson] believes I’ll be a guard in the offense [eventually],” Jackson added.

Courtney said Jackson has “great feet,” and praised his overall technique, adding, “He’s a smart kid … he takes pride, he studies the game.”

About Elon’s program, Encarnacion said, “This past season [Elon] went 8-and-4 in the Southern Conference, which is a very competitive conference.

“And the facilities are great, they’re building a new fieldhouse.”

Encarnacion, 18, a preferred walk-on looking to earn a scholarship, said after talking with coaches, “My position on the depth chart is strong safety ... to get some early playing time I’ll have to work pretty hard and get on the special teams area.”

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound standout played in the Tennessee-Kentucky All-Star “Border Bowl” in Cumberland, Ky.

Courtney labeled Encarnacion “a versatile football athlete, he can play offense, he can play defense.”


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