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Every mention of another school conjured comparisons to Northwestern.
That's when Justin Jackson realized there was no comparison.
"I wanted to become part of the Wildcat family," he said.
On Tuesday, Jackson made it official when the Glenbard North junior running back announced on Twitter he was verbally committing to Northwestern.
Jackson, the 2012 Gatorade Illinois Football Player of the Year, chose Northwestern among nearly 20 scholarship offers. He said he visited Indiana, Iowa, Vanderbilt and Nebraska but decided it was time to end the obvious.
"I fell in love with the program right away," he said. "I kept comparing everyone else to Northwestern, so I figured Northwestern had to be the right place. I think it was just the right time for the whole process to be over."
As hectic as Jackson's recruiting process was to this point, it could have become much crazier had he waited to decide. Jackson instead chose to enjoy this summer and head into his senior season unburdened by the decision.
"I was just ready for it to be over," he said.
Jackson rushed for 2,600 yards and 35 touchdowns his junior season while leading Glenbard North to a DuPage Valley Conference championship and a berth into the Class 8A state title game. Also a standout defensive back, Jackson said Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald wants him as a running back.
"I'm really happy to have this decision behind me," Jackson said. "I have no doubt I made the right choice."
Follow Kevin on Twitter @kevin_schmit