T.Q. Jackson had been waiting for this moment.

Jackson was gearing up for his freshman season at Jefferson. Like most athletes in East Texas, he was eager to live the high school football experience.

Unfortunately, his season ended before it began.

Jackson broke his left wrist, which sidelined him for the entire year. He watched as his teammates enjoyed the experience that had been unfairly delayed to him.

"As a 15-year-old, that’s hard to sit out and watch your friends play," he said. "In the end, it benefitted me. I gained some weight. I got a little taller and stronger mentally. Nobody knew me my freshman year, but my sophomore year I took it and ran with it.”

Jackson responded in a big way. Playing receiver, finished with 1,099 yards and 11 touchdowns his sophomore year, quite the high school debut. Schools began to take notice.

Now entering his senior season, Jackson (6-2, 188) is one of the most highly recruited players in East Texas with 19 FBS offers. He is No. 2 on ETSN.fm's East Texas 25 list, a ranking of the top recruits in East Texas, has taken the Offensive MVP at the ETSN/APEC combine the past two years.

Jackson said Arkansas, TCU and Texas Tech are his top three schools and he plans to make his decision on July 21.

“TCU, I like the offense they have," he said. "They’re competitive. They’ve been successful. I like how they utilize their receivers. With Texas Tech, I like the air raid offense. Arkansas, I like what they’re trying to build. They told me where I would be playing. I’ve got a great relationship with coach (Chad) Morris, coach (Justin) Stepp and coach (Jeff) Traylor."

Although the recruiting process represents realized dreams for Jackson and plenty of other athletes, it isn't always easy. Jackson said the impossible task of trying to please everyone can get a little overwhelming at times. It's why he plans to commit before the season begins.

"Every coach wants to call you or get (you) here or get (you) there," he said. "You want to, but you can’t. You can’t go on all these visits. You can’t keep every coach happy. The hardest part is building a good relationship with (a coach) and having to choose elsewhere.”

Jackson said he plans to use the extra time to focus on Jefferson's season and his own goals. The Bulldogs have not made it past the regional round since 2010. In 2017, they started off the season 8-0, only to fall to Whitesboro in the area round.

"They call it a second round curse," Jackson said. "We haven’t made it past that since 1986. We always use that as motivation and try to gain from it. This year, we can turn it up a notch. My class has been through it. We know how it feels.”

Jackson has also been in the gym all summer, looking to add weight. Unlike most highly rated recruits, he has not stopped attending camps, going to camps at Texas A&M Commerce and East Texas Baptist University this summer. He's also trying to improve route running this summer. He cited exposure to schools that otherwise wouldn't have seen him as the main reason for his continued attendance.

He looks up to cousin Cordell Roberson, who played college football at Stephen F. Austin and had stints with the Browns, Panthers and Bills in the NFL.

"When I was little, I  was like, ‘If he can do it, I can,'" Jackson said. "He always used to tell me to be better than him. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Jackson is eager to make his college commitment so he can switch his focus to Jefferson's season. If he approaches it with the same work ethic he has everything else, there's no reason it won't be one for the books.

“I really want to get it all over with so I can focus on the season," he said. "It’s really just making the best decision for you.”

East Texas 25 Class of 2019