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East's Carroll-Jackson takes road less traveled to Big Ten scholarship

The Panther senior will continue his academics and athletics at Nebraska, after just one season of high school football.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — It's safe to say that at 6'5", 285 pounds, Vincent Carroll-Jackson turns heads when he walks into a room.

"He had got a Georgia offer and from there, he literally got an offer every day leading up to signing day," recalled Central Dauphin East football coach Lance Deane.  "He got three offers last night.  LSU, Auburn, and Arkansas all called and offered him a scholarship."

The Central Dauphin East senior is the highest-rated Panther recruit in school history, which is saying something when you consider that he's only played one season of varsity football.

Carroll-Jackson gave up football in grade school.  As a junior at East High, he took a strength and conditioning class.  The teacher was head football coach Lance Deane.

"I think that's God, honestly," said Carroll-Jackson.  "I didn't have to take that class.  I had all the credits for gym, but something in me just said, 'Why not take another strength to condition the class, get stronger a little bit, you know?'  And I ended up meeting him and it's one of the greatest collections I've ever had in my life." 

"The promises that I made are those things that are controlled from an effort standpoint.  That was the only thing that I wanted in return, ensuring from himself that everything that he can control, that he would maximize his effort in the classroom and on the practice field.  I know that he wanted to play college football if he came out and decided to play.  And we made him a promise as a coaching staff, that we would do everything from our end to try to make that a reality," said Deane.

In his senior year, he made his East Panther debut and would verbally commit to Syracuse.  But in the week leading up to signing day, new Nebraska head coach Matt Rhule had one more pitch for him.

"He surrounded me with coaches that have similar backgrounds to myself. They're people who could understand what I'm going through and if I ever had a situation, I wouldn't have to hold my tongue or speak a certain way in order to address what I'm going through. They would just understand and know," said Carroll-Jackson.

From an at-home visit on Wednesday to touching down in Lincoln on a Saturday, Carroll-Jackson knew he found something special.

"I felt a big, heavy blanket just come off of me," recalled Carroll-Jackson.  "I'm set. This is it. This is my future. I've got to embrace it now."

And it didn't hurt that Coach Rhule had some similarities to Coach Deane.

"They care more about the person than the athlete.  The athlete, that's the tangibles. You know, that's the size, the speed, the agility.  They care more about the person's feelings and how they are doing as a human being," said Carroll-Jackson.  "If they're succeeding in the classroom and off the field as well. How are they going to be as a young man? How can I help them grow?" 

As amazing as his story is, the most impressive part is that his story is just getting started.  

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