Tennessee coach Derek Dooley had been optimistic all along, but now it's official: Junior safety Janzen Jackson has re-enrolled for the second session of summer school, paving the way for his return to the football field this fall.
Jackson has been dealing with personal issues and withdrew from school during the spring semester. He didn't participate in spring practice, but stayed in Knoxville and got a job. Dooley has been extremely patient with Jackson and left the door open the entire time. The second-year Tennessee coach said the reason he went out of his way to help Jackson was because Jackson has been committed to helping himself.
Of course, it doesn't hurt that Jackson is a key component on defense. He's the kind of safety that makes everyone around him better and is a big-time hitter.
The Vols have some potential in the secondary, and getting Jackson back will help to solidify things back there. Junior Prentiss Waggner, a second-team All-SEC selection last season, can play both cornerback and safety, while sophomore safety Brent Brewer just started to scratch the surface of how good he can be last season after playing four years of minor league baseball.
Tennessee also brought in a pair of heralded junior college defensive backs -- Byron Moore and Izauea Lanier. Moore, who spent a season at USC before transferring to Los Angeles Harbor Community College, will compete for a starting cornerback job right away.
Jackson, though, is the one who makes it all go back there, which is why this will be a huge fall camp for him and the Vols' defense. He's been working out on his own, but he hasn't had any contact since the bowl game last December.
The other factor to consider is his emotional state. He's run into several issues off the field during his career, and this is his final chance to show that he's matured.
Tennessee's defense will be looking for playmakers and leaders this fall. The Vols need Jackson to be both.