After traveling a road often filled with turbulence during the last year, Kwanzi Jackson signed a letter of intent to play football at Alcorn State Wednesday.
The 2014 Bradenton Herald Defensive Player of The Year, Jackson left the Manatee High football program early last season and played for Lovejoy High in Hampton, Ga.
The defensive end/linebacker was suspended from the Manatee football program last spring for his alleged role in a burglary of an unoccupied building. Eventually adjudication was withheld and his probation was terminated allowing him to return to school.
However, Charles Jackson, Kwanzi's father, said he pulled his son out of Manatee because he felt school officials were not treating his son fairly after his return.
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Kwanzi said he was looking for a college that made him feel comfortable and showed that it really wanted him.
The 6-foot-4, 240 pounder said he turned down offers from California of the Pac 12, Tulane and Troy. California wanted to sign Kwanzi after signing day and he wasn't sure it would be a full-ride scholarship.
"I felt Alcorn was the best fit for me. I am going to get more playing time and get on the field earlier there," Kwanzi said. "It didn't matter to me that I wouldn't be going to an FBS school. Alcorn has a good family atmosphere, which is important to me and I like their business program."
An FCS program in Mississippi, Alcorn has won two consecutive Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) titles and finished last year with a 9-4 record.
As a junior Jackson was the catalyst for a defense that enabled Manatee to reach the Class 8A state semifinal. He finished the year with an area-leading 25 sacks. He was second on the Canes with 75 solo tackles.
The 17-year-old said it was tough leaving his friends and teammates behind at Manatee, but he felt it was the best thing to do for himself.
"I feel my life is going in a good directio now. I learned from the past, but I don't worry about it,"
Kwanzi said: "It was real hard to transfer. You have to make new friends and adjust and adapt to everything. I still keep in touch with the guys on Manatee football team. They are good friends of mine."
Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter at ADellSports.