One of Nebraska’s new linemen is already a record holder. It happened before his initial flirtation with football and well before his only season of high school ball that gained him numerous scholarship offers.
Vincent Carroll-Jackson was a physically imposing sixth-grade student at Central Dauphin Middle School in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. However, he spent more time browsing the library than on the field. He’d read five, sometimes six, books at a time. As a result he set a school record with over 200 books read in a single school year. On a recent episode of Hurrdat Media’s Go Big Redcast, he showed off a few of the books he’s been reading and reflected on that middle school accomplishment.
“Probably won’t ever get broken again,” he laughed.
Carroll-Jackson reads most genres. He’s tackled George R.R. Martin’s entire Game of Thrones series before finishing high school. He intends to continue reading for pleasure at Nebraska, where he plans to major in business and entrepreneurship. It’s a fitting career direction for a teenager who’s already put in the work.
He was a physical anomaly before growing into his 6-foot-5, 285-pound frame. He tried out for football in seventh grade, hoping to play with the freshmen. The coach at his previous school said he wouldn’t see the field. Freshmen got priority playing time because they’d soon play varsity and junior varsity. Carroll-Jackson didn’t like that. So he went to work, initially at family theme park Hersheypark, essentially full-time as a 14-year-old. Coming from a big family, the work wasn’t anything new to him.
“I’d kinda gotten used to working like that,” He told Redcast Rob. “Working really wasn’t too much for me. The hard work was something that I enjoyed, honestly.”
Not until he was in Central Dauphin High coach Lance Deane’s strength and conditioning class did Carroll-Jackson revisit football. He maintained his job outside of school while trying winter workouts. Deane saw the potential. Just before the spring, Deane gave his word to try and get the young lineman to college football. What did he have to lose? An impressive spring season, along with specialized workouts, opened the door for an explosive senior season.
A lot of colleges called. At first it was overwhelming. And, because of his short football career, there was some reflection accompanying those offers.
“I was definitely appreciative of it,” he said. “A part of me felt like I didn’t deserve it because I felt like I hadn’t proved myself yet.”
He still feels he has a lot left to prove. Even as Power 5 schools saw his film and extended scholarship offers most high school players dream about. Those offers rolled in, most for defensive line because his coach sent more film of him on defense. He played left tackle and, yes, he’s already heard the “Blind Side” references. He doesn’t connect those same dots, but he does enjoy run blocking. Like against Chambersburg this year when he drove a defender 15 yards off the ball on a touchdown run. Carroll-Jackson couldn’t help but laugh when that defender tried throwing punches after the play.
Syracuse wanted him on the offensive line. Carroll-Jackson committed to the Orange almost as a way of shutting down the tiresome recruiting process. Pittsburgh offered him that same day and his first offer from Nebraska came the day after. Coach Mike Wallace extended that offer and the lineman didn’t think much of it. Then Matt Rhule reached out. Rhule loved his film, the raw athleticism and power clearly on display. Nebraska’s new head coach offered him a scholarship. Carroll-Jackson informed Rhule he’d already received an offer from Nebraska. Rhule laughed and apologized. It was a light-hearted moment between two Pennsylvania guys but not much else. Until the next day.
“Literally the next day after he offered me he flew down to Pennsylvania, I was his first stop,” Carroll-Jackson said. “He always be posting them cryptic messages, he posted a pic of Dauphin County and a lot of people were like ‘Who’s he going to go see?'”
— Matt Rhule (@CoachMattRhule) December 14, 2022
Rhule’s visit swayed Carroll-Jackson to visit Nebraska instead of Colorado that weekend. The high school senior appreciated the head coach flying out to see him on such short notice and didn’t see the harm in visiting. He called Rhule the next day to set it up and, a day after that, he was on a plane headed for Nebraska. Oddly enough, that trip was the first time he’d ever met new defensive coordinator Tony White. White didn’t try recruiting Carroll-Jackson to Syracuse and their paths didn’t cross until the terminal. They shared excitement for Nebraska. That visit sold Carroll-Jackson, who flipped his commitment from Syracuse and signed with the Huskers.
He loved the coaching staff. They came from similar backgrounds and set aside his No. 55 jersey (for personal motivational reasons). He especially built a connection with defensive line coach Terrance Knighton. Sure, he’s an NFL veteran with experience of knowing what it takes to play there, but hasn’t coached at high level before. That garnered some doubters. And this aspiring lineman likes that.
“What I like about coach Knighton is how much doubt he has on him,” the 6-foot-5 high school senior said. “He’s eager to prove it all wrong. That’s kind of like me.
“Because I want people to know Husker football is back.”
Carroll-Jackson will join the football program later this year and stumps for the Huskers from Pennsylvania until then. He tweets to other recruits and admits he wants to build a pipeline from Pennsylvania to Nebraska. New additions, transfers and signings, have been met with brewing excitement. The 3-man front doesn’t bother him, nor does the recent spell of seasons. Nebraska’s turnaround is coming, he said. And it’s going to be big.
“(Coach White) is a very intelligent guy. He knows what he’s talking about, he knows his stuff,” Carroll-Jackson said. “He’s going to turn us into a fearsome defense. He’s going to make the Blackshirts one of the most feared defenses once again.”