Jonah Jackson left the worst program in the Big Ten to join the best one.
He was a good offensive lineman at Rutgers, but he wanted a taste of winning. Jackson arrived in Columbus as a graduate transfer last May and impressed immediately with his work ethic, talent and quiet leadership. He quickly settled in at left guard and was part of an offensive line that allowed J.K. Dobbins to run for 2,003 yards and Justin Fields to throw for 50 touchdowns.
"It’s been a blessing," Jackson said at the NFL combine of his move to Ohio State. "All my dreams are coming to fruition."
On Friday, the Detroit Lions took Jackson in the third round with the 75th overall pick. Jackson will be reunited with Buckeye cornerback Jeff Okudah, the third overall selection of the draft. Jackson will become linemates with another former Buckeye, 2016 first-round pick Taylor Decker.
Off the field, Jackson has a genial personality. On it, he plays with an edge.
"I mean, you’re going head to head every play, so you’ve got to be nasty," Jackson said. "You’ve got to have a little something off in you. It’s definitely vital to being an interior offensive lineman."
He and All-American right guard Wyatt Davis battled to lead the Buckeyes with knockdown blocks.
"I think I finished the season with 79," Jackson said with a smile. "They might have short-changed me a little bit. I don’t think they counted the Clemson ones. Yeah, I was proud with the 79. He was right there with me. He had a couple more that looked more impressive that they called on him so I was a little jealous."
Jackson played some at center at Rutgers, and Ohio State offensive line coach Greg Studrawa said on Wednesday that he can envision playing there in the NFL.
"A lot of people don't know this, but Jonah could be an elite center, in my opinion," Studrawa said. "A lot of guys at that level have asked about him doing that."
Studrawa gave Jackson high marks for his attention to detail and mental toughness.
"He's a disciplined guy. I think he's going to play a long time. Somebody’s going to get a great player there."