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File / The Herald Stanhope’s TJ Jackson said he believes his time at Stanhope has helped him prepare for the next level.

Less than six weeks after picking up an offer from Troy, Stanhope Elmore defensive lineman TJ Jackson announced via Twitter he was committing to extend his football career with the Trojans. Jackson, a rising senior, continued to get other Division I offers, including ones from Jacksonville State, Arkansas State and Tulane, but he said he was confident in his decision to commit to Troy.

“I’ve always been a fan of Troy,” Jackson said. “I had it in my head that’s where I wanted to go so once they offered me, they were my No. 1 choice right away.”

Troy is coming off its third consecutive 10-win season, the longest streak in the team’s FBS history, which helped draw Jackson to the program. Jackson said it did not take long to know Troy was special during his visit to the campus.

“It really felt like home to me,” Jackson said. “The players and the coaches treated me like family. I want to help them win some more rings and hopefully we can get ranked in the four years that I’m there.”

The Trojans have won three consecutive bowls games but have not reached the AP Top 25 since 2016 when they were ranked 25th for one week for the first time in school history. Former coach Neal Brown, who was in charge of the last four seasons, took the West Virginia job so Troy hired Chip Lindsey but Jackson said the coaching change actually had a positive effect on his recruitment.

“They weren’t really recruiting me then,” Jackson said of the Troy staff under Brown. “The new coaching staff was really wanting me. They saw me play and they wanted me to visit to see their program.”

Jackson said there were plenty of things to like about the program but a big factor in the decision was being able to stay close to home. He said he knows he will want to go home sometimes but he also wants his family to be able to see him play in college.

“I wanted to stay close to home so I could still visit my family,” Jackson said. “I talked with them a lot before I made the decision. This was just best for me and my future.”

While at Troy, Jackson said he will pursue his dream of getting to the NFL while studying for a degree in business. Before he can think about college though, Jackson has one more season with Stanhope which he believes will get him ready to play at the next level.

Jackson has seen plenty of improvement during the last year and more collegiate offers could come before signing day. 

However, Jackson said he wanted to make his decision prior to the season so he can help the Mustangs make some noise in the postseason in 2019.

“I wanted to focus on my team now,” Jackson said. “I just wanted to stop with the recruiting so I could go out and help my team win so we can make a deep run in the playoffs.”

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.