Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin is contemplating Janzen Jackson's future at Tennessee. Last week, Kiffin was asked to contemplate Jackson's talent.
More precisely, the question was, "Have you ever been around a better safety as a true freshman?"
"No," Tennessee's first-year coach said a week before Jackson and two other freshmen - Nu'Keese Richardson and Mike Edwards - were charged with attempted armed robbery.
Kiffin said Thursday that Jackson had been released from jail and there would be no further comment until UT and the police have completed their investigation.
A week ago Kiffin discussed the two best safeties he's been around. Both played at Southern California where he coached from 2001-06.
Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers redshirted as a freshman, languishing as a reserve linebacker before Pete Carroll was hired and moved him to safety.
Then Taylor Mays came to USC. Kiffin said Mays, now an All-American, was "really good" as a freshman.
"But he wasn't this good that early," Kiffin said, referring to Jackson. "He's phenomenal."
Now Jackson's career is in serious jeopardy and Kiffin isn't the only one concerned.
Lance Guidry, a long-time defensive backs coach now at Miami, Ohio, said he started teaching Jackson, his son, at age three.
"He was drilling since he was little," Guidry said last week.
When he heard the news Thursday, Guidry told The News Sentinel in a text message that he was too shook up and declined to comment.
It was likely a culmination. Jackson had just returned to the team after his suspension for last week's game against Memphis for an unspecified violation of team rules.
Before that, Jackson was riding high, having drawn comparisons to All-America safety Eric Berry by UT's coaches. In some ways, UT's coaches said, Jackson had more ability than Berry.
"For them to put him in the same category," Guidry said, "that's pretty steep."
Coaches liked Jackson's overall athleticism and ability to quickly change directions.
Much of that athleticism is still untapped. UT's staff has protected Jackson in pass coverage - for the time being.
"It's kind of hard for people to match up with him," Kiffin said. "Even if they did, I don't think they could expose him."
Jackson proved as much in practice. Kiffin said he would regularly cover UT's best receivers.
Defensive backs coach Willie Mack Garza is the man challenged with refining Jackson's game.
"His instincts are very good," Garza said last week. "Sometimes as a coach you say 'Dang, you can't do that.' Most of the time he's at the right place at the right time."
Those instincts came from playing for his father at Carencro High School in Louisiana. Guidry watched his son grow from a freshman with average speed to one of the fastest players on the team by the time he was a sophomore.
For two seasons, coach and son ran Carencro's secondary. Then, just before Jackson's senior year, Guidry left for McNeese State and Jackson transferred to Barbe High in Lake Charles, La.
There was an opportunity for the two to reunite in Knoxville. But instead of pushing for a package deal, Guidry pulled his name from consideration as UT's defensive backs coach before interviewing with Kiffin.
"He needed to grow," Guidry said. "He doesn't need to be coached by me. He needs to be coached by someone else."
That someone else was UT defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.
"The thing that put everything together was playing with Monte Kiffin," said UT assistant coach Ed Orgeron, who recruited Jackson. "There is no doubt. That was the deciding factor for Jackson. He wants to be a coach after he finished playing football."
Orgeron, then the coach at Ole Miss, was the first to offer a scholarship to Jackson, when he was just a sophomore. He remained a priority when Orgeron was hired by UT.
"When I was hired and I was able to call recruits, Janzen Jackson was the first guy at called," Orgeron said. "(He's) smart. He's a coach's son."
Jackson was regarded as one of UT's prized recruits when he signed in February, a fact that made Thursday's robbery reports that much harder to handle for UT fans.
Also, Jackson lived up to the billing, especially when it comes to hitting. He had a handful of solid licks against South Carolina on Oct. 31 in his most recent game as a Vol.
"I like to hear the crowd go 'Oooh.' That's one of my favorite things to hear." Jackson said last week. "I like to have interceptions too but hard hits are one of my favorites."
The hard hits take their toll on the tackler as well as the tackled.
"A lot of times I take brutal punishment but you've just got to keep going," Jackson said.
Whether Jackson will "keep going" for the Vols is a decision Kiffin will soon make.