football Edit

Inside Deion Colzie’s Notre Dame Recommitment

On Sept. 10, Athens (Ga.) Academy class of 2021 wide receiver Deion Colzie posted on his Twitter page that he would be announcing his commitment in 18 days.

At that point, his mother, Yolanda Jackson, didn’t know what school her son would be choosing. His final three consisted of Florida, Notre Dame and Tennessee. With Jackson an unabashed fan of the Fighting Irish, everyone knew — including Deion — which school she wanted her son to be at.

Colzie gave an initial commitment to Notre Dame just hours before the Irish defeated USC last October but backed off his pledge this March, telling’s Chad Simmons that he felt his decision was rushed. When Colzie informed his mother that he’d be decommitting, she broke down in tears.

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Athens (Ga.) Academy wide receiver and Notre Dame commit Deion Colzie with his family
Colzie pictured with his family, including his mother, Yolanda Jackson, on the far left. (Mike Singer,

“It was really tough, but I realized that I have to do what’s best for him and let him handle his recruiting process,” Jackson said. “We trusted him to make the best decision for him.”

Jackson played a vital role in her son’s initial commitment, but during his second crack at the recruiting process, she took a step back.

“We were not all that heavily involved,” Jackson added. “We left it all up to him, so he was fielding all of the phone calls and text messages from the coaches. He was 100 percent in charge of it, and every now and then, we would just ask him how the process was going.”

If Jackson had it her way, her son would be attending Notre Dame, but she didn’t push that on him. So when Colzie announced his pledge to the Fighting Irish on Sept. 28, it was a dream come true for his mother, and it came with all sorts of emotions.

“I would say shock, disbelief; I was actually not really sure that he was serious,” Jackson explained. “I figured that even though he felt that he rushed his initial decision, he knew that Notre Dame was the best decision.

“Given that he wasn’t able to take any official visits, that probably played a part in it. His whole reason for opening his recruitment back up was to take visits to other schools to see what they have to offer.”

I can vividly remember a conversation with a source who told me back in March after Colzie’s “decommitment” that the Notre Dame staff would continue to recruit Colzie as long as they had a pulse to land him. But when I visited Athens Academy in July to interview Colzie following a summer workout, I left thinking the Irish had a slim chance to land him, especially after he told me that he was strongly considering staying in the South.

And then a week after my visit, he told Rivals he had three lead schools: Alabama, Florida and Tennessee. But the pulse for Notre Dame was still there, and they forged ahead.

There seemed to be a shift in Colzie’s recruitment a few weeks later, where he had an epiphany that Notre Dame was the right choice for him. He started trending back to the Fighting Irish, to the delight of wide receivers coach Del Alexander and — of course — his mother.

“It’s still surreal right now,” Jackson said. “I think once we get to National Signing Day is when it will really, really hit me. I’m happy. We always said that regardless of the school he picked that we were going to support him 100 percent. At the end of the day, he has to be happy with where he’s going to school and not just the athletics, but the education and the whole gamut of it. He has to be happy and comfortable.”

Colzie visited Notre Dame five times from September 2018 to December 2019, including a strong camp performance he had in June 2019, which is when he landed an offer from the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame’s coaches loved his film but wanted to see with their own collective eyes just how fast he was, and they were impressed.

The Notre Dame staff had to have known that Colzie’s mother was not in the day-to-day process of her son’s recruitment as much, but that didn’t matter to them. They continued to stay in close contact with Jackson. It was more than just a recruiting process to Notre Dame.

When a player signs with the Notre Dame football program, his family signs, too, and the Irish wanted to build on their relationship with Jackson.

“If I had to say the school that contacted me the most, it would be Notre Dame,” she said. “They contacted me in some form or fashion every single week. They told me they weren’t going to give up Deion and were going to recruit him until they couldn’t recruit him anymore.”

The key takeaway for Jackson during the recruiting process was to let her son have space and let him come to the right decision. The values she instilled in him as a young man helped lead him to eventually pick the school she wanted all along.

“You want to be involved in that process and you should be involved, but at some point, you have to let the athlete take control,” she added. “When he decommitted, that was our opportunity to let him take control of the process, and it worked out for the better.”



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