Serra (Gardena, Calif.)
football coach Scott Altenberg can barely look.
For the last two weeks his star player Adoree' Jackson
, his beloved top recruit, a kid he can't stop gushing about not because of his vast talent but because of his magnet personality, looked like someone else.
"He looked like he aged 10 years," Altenberg said. "One hundred percent I am feeling for him. Every time I see him, I just want to go over and hug him."
Jackson hasn't lost a loved one or come down with a severe injury or illness. Rather he's been worn, tattered and beaten by the recruiting process. The 5-foot-10, 182-pound senior is the nation's top uncommitted recruit.
On Tuesday, the No. 7 overall recruit in the 247Sports Composite Rankings
and No. 1 cornerback nationally narrowed his final choices to Florida, LSU, USC and UCLA.
He'll announce his decision at 4 p.m. Wednesday before a national television audience.
"Literally, he can't wait for that day to come," Altenberg said. "He is literally counting the days. So are we."
Then everyone will be out of their misery: Jackson, Altenberg and the three rejected schools.
Oh, don't say rejected. That's what pains Jackson so — saying no to three schools that are so hopeful to land him. And so invested.
"It's such a personal choice and he's such a personable and relationship guy, it makes it excruciating for him," Altenberg said.
It is for Altenberg also, but he doesn't want to let on. He also doesn't want to sway Jackson in any way, though most can certainly surmise that Altenberg would love the multi-talented standout to attend his alma mater. Altenberg was a walk-on quarterback at UCLA ending in 1994. His late father Kurt was a receiver for the Bruins in the middle 60s and caught a game-winning touchdown pass from Gary Beban in the 1965 Rose Bowl.
But Altenberg swears he doesn't get involved with the college-picking process. He advises on some matters and in the case of Jackson, had him narrow the choices to four Tuesday.
"I don't get involved," Altenberg said. "I want them to figure it out for themselves."
If you don't believe it, check Serra's recent track record.
His star pupils, All-American receivers Robert Woods, George Farmer and Marqis Lee, went to the rival school USC, as did his latest star quarterback
So see, Altenberg has no influence on his former players. Though, when pushed, he does have an admission.
"Selfishly, all things being equal, I'd love him to stay close to home," Altenberg said. "I'd love to take him to dinner or watch him play in person all the time. … But there's so much more to it."
And there's so much to Jackson, who was thrust into the tailback position following the season-ending knee injury to junior Malik Roberson
before the season began. Jackson rushed for 639 yards and five scores, caught 38 passes for 812 yards and eight touchdowns, intercepted six passes and deflected eight others in 2013. He also punted.
"He did everything," Altenberg said. "Everything."
Including leading the team emotionally with a remarkable blend of strength, confidence and humbleness.
"He's just an amazing kid," Altenberg said. "He's happy and joyful and people just want to be around him. And he's a total team guy. He'll be sorely missed. ... Someone will be getting a jewel."
So which school will Jackson pick?
Anyone who says they know is lying.
"I don't think Adoree' knows yet," Altenberg said.247 Crystal Ball BreakdownUSC: