Enoch Jackson art

Mansfield Legacy defensive lineman Enoch Jackson Jr., right, and defensive back Jalon Catalon tackle Lancaster wide receiver Latrell Caples during the 2017 season. Jackson is transferring to North Texas from Arkansas.

There isn’t a bigger challenge for North Texas heading into the 2021 season than finding a way to improve its defense.

The Mean Green took what looks like a key step toward that goal on Tuesday, when Arkansas defensive tackle Enoch Jackson Jr. announced that he is transferring to UNT.

“Committed,” Jackson wrote in his tweet announcing his decision. “Let’s work.”

Jackson is a Mansfield Legacy product and was the District 10-5A Defensive MVP in 2017. Rivals.com rated him at No. 28 on its list of the top defensive tackles in the country in the class of 2019, when he was also listed at No. 22 on The Dallas Morning News‘ list of the top recruits in the area in 2019.

The 6-foot, 298-pound lineman chose Arkansas over offers from a host of national powers, including Clemson, Florida and Georgia.

Jackson played in three games over the last two seasons at Arkansas but never carved out a significant role.

Jackson competed for playing time in spring practice over the last few weeks at Arkansas but fell behind other players on the depth chart. He finished with five tackles, including two behind the line of scrimmage, and a sack in the Razorbacks’ spring game.

Jackson entered the NCAA transfer portal shortly after the game.

“I have entered the portal. 4 years of eligibility left,” Jackson wrote in an announcement on Twitter announcing his decision on April 21.

Jackson will join a UNT team in transition defensively heading into the 2021 campaign. UNT coach Seth Littrell brought in an entirely new defensive staff under coordinator Phil Bennett following the 2020 campaign.

UNT is depending on that staff to turn around a unit that allowed 42.8 points per game last season.

The Mean Green will base out of a four-man front under Bennett after employing a 3-3-5 scheme under Clint Bowen last season.

Jackson is the latest player UNT has added who could help with that transition. The Mean Green added Kilgore College defensive tackle Kalvin Hutchings at the semester break.

Hutchings and Jackson will join a front that will also include first-team All-Conference USA defensive tackle Dion Novil. The senior elected to take advantage of the additional season of eligibility the NCAA granted to players due to the COIVD-19 pandemic and will be back in 2021.

Jackson is also among the latest of a host of transfers from other Division I teams to join the Mean Green since the end of last season. UNT has also added Rice cornerback TyRae Thornton and North Carolina quarterback Jace Ruder.

UNT is hoping that influx of talent will help it bounce back from a 4-6 season that culminated with a loss to Appalachian State in the Myrtle Beach Bowl.

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.

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