Iowa football: Hawkeye All-American Josh Jackson declares for the NFL Draft

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central

Iowa's All-American cornerback Josh Jackson, who put together one of the finest seasons ever for a Hawkeye defensive back, announced Wednesday that he was going pro. 

FILE - In this Sept. 16, 2017, file photo, Iowa's Josh Jackson (15) celebrates with teammate Miles Taylor, left, after intercepting a pass during the second half of an NCAA college football game against North Texas, in Iowa City, Iowa. Next week’s Pinstripe Bowl in New York could be Iowa junior cornerback Josh Jackson’s last game as a Hawkeye. 
Jackson said Tuesday, Dec. 19. 2017, that he’s “50-50” on whether he’ll come back for his senior season, adding that he’ll likely announce his plans for 2018 after the Hawkeyes (7-5) face Boston College (7-5) on Dec. 27 at Yankee Stadium.  (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

He announced his decision in an Instragram post on Wednesday morning. 

Jackson, a highly athletic defensive back, finished with an FBS-best eight interceptions in a season that ended with him earning unanmous All-American honors. He returned two of those interceptions for touchdowns. His eight picks tied a program record.

Jackson was a lightly recruited prospect out of Texas and he developed into a highly productive player with prototype size (6-foot-1, 192 pounds) and athleticism (he was an elite high jumper in high school). He didn't start at Iowa until the final game of his redshirt sophomore season, in a loss to Florida in the 2017 Outback Bowl.

He entered this season as a bit of an unknown, but foreshadowed what was to come in the season-opening win over Wyoming with an interception of Josh Allen, another potential first-round NFL Draft pick. Jackson was at his best in big games, recording three interceptions in an upset of Ohio State and returning two picks for touchdowns in a loss at Wisconsin.

Jackson became a hot name among draft prospects. He's considered a likely first-rounder in April's NFL Draft. 

Jackson told reporters all along that he was aware of what was being said about him by NFL scouts, but that he wanted to wait until after the season to announce his decision. He is on pace to earn his degree in May, although preparing for the April draft may put that on hold.

After Iowa ended its season with a 27-20 victory over Boston College in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 27 — a game that Jackson sealed with his final Hawkeye interception — he said he was still 50-50 about returning for a senior year.

“I still have a mind of my own, and I can make my decision,” Jackson said then. “It’s kind of in the middle (between staying and leaving)."

But he also admitted that he had heard some NFL executives considered him the best cornerback in college football. Asked if he agreed with that assessment, Jackson said, "Yes."

Now he will get to find out.