Janzen Jackson knows what he's walking into.
The Tennessee sophomore safety and Louisiana native is undoubtedly excited about his homecoming, but after Jackson spurned the home-state Tigers in favor of the Vols out of high school less than two years ago, he also knows he'll receive a much ruder welcome than anybody else in Tiger Stadium today (TV: WVLT, 3:30 p.m.) when the Vols visit 12th-ranked LSU.
"I'm expecting a lot of noise from the crowd whenever my name's echoed in that stadium," Jackson said grinning. "It'll be drowned out by boos, so I'm expecting that, but I kind of like it, though. Yeah, who wouldn't want 90,000 people mad at 'em?"
Jackson was a five-star recruit out of Barbe High School in Lake Charles, La., about two hours away from Baton Rouge. He committed to LSU during February of 2008.
Nearly 11 months later Jackson visited UT and saw an opportunity to play for renowned defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. He postponed his announcement ceremony a day after Signing Day so his mother could attend and picked the Vols.
Now he must face fans that certainly haven't forgotten what transpired.
"Obviously they're not going to be happy," said UT defensive backs coach Terry Joseph, also a Louisiana native. "Obviously a lot of old scars.
"He's not going to be greeted politely but neither is anyone wearing orange and white. Him being from Louisiana and a recruiting story to go the way it did, obviously there's going to be some ill feelings.
"It will be nasty but at the same time he'll be protected. He'll be in a good environment, so we expect him to play well."
A couple of Jackson's secondary mates also know the treatment he's going to face and have reminded him about it. They also know Jackson won't have trouble handling it.
"In stretching drills (Tuesday) he was running around like a little rabbit so I know he's pretty excited about this week," said safety Prentiss Waggner, another Louisiana native.
"He's going to get the hardest time out of all of us. We're Louisiana guys, but he committed to LSU so he's going to get a lot of grief.
"But I think he's going to block all that out and look to make a play to quiet the noise."
Cornerback Art Evans takes the more light-hearted approach.
"I just mess with him like, 'Man, they're going to be all on you when you get there,' " Evans said laughing.
"But Janzen, he's gotten more mature from when I (saw) him when he came in to now, and I know he's going to take it really well and do what he has to do. He'll be all right if he just keeps his head out of that. That can get you out of your game."
Jackson, who will have about 40 family members at the game watching him play, admits having to battle to stay focused and clearing his head of all the extracurricular distractions.
"Of course you want to make a statement and a lot of plays, but that's with every game," he said. "I've got to go into this game not changing anything, trying to be something that I'm not, or something spectacular, try to be the hero.
"You've got to go in and have a strong mind and not be afraid of what the crowd's going to be like or what the other players are going to be like, so you've just got to go in there confident."
Jackson said he keeps tabs on the secondaries at LSU and Alabama, the third school he visited during his recruitment. The Tigers wanted him at corner, and UT and the Tide wanted him at safety.
Despite looking around to see where he'd have fit in at those other schools, Jackson said he's glad he's wearing orange.
"You're at one of the best colleges in the NCAA, so much history here," he said.
"It's kind of like you get the pick of the litter. LSU, Tennessee, Florida, Alabama - I could have chosen all those schools. I think I picked one of the best schools."
Now he's got the chance to prove it.
Patrick Brown is a freelance contributor.