As USC enters the 2015 season, they do so with a fair amount of hype. They are favorites to win the Pac-12, and Cody Kessler sits at 12-1 to win the Heisman trophy. The Trojans get their start tonight against Arkansas State, and someone other than Kessler looks to steal the spotlight.
California native Adoree‘ Jackson is listed at cornerback from USC, but he is an all-around football player. Jackson is also the teams primary kick returner, and has spent time at wide receiver. When hes not scoring touchdowns in a variety of ways, Jackson is a world-class long jumper. This year he plans on being a contender for the Heisman, and then go on and compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. If thats the case, better learn about Jackson now before he becomes a household name.
Heres some facts about Jackson:
1. Jackson Plays All Three Phases
Jackson’s primary position is at cornerback, and that’s where spends most of his time on the field. Jackson played all 13 games, finishing with 45 solo tackles. While he didn’t record an interception, he was third among defenders with nine passes broken up.
Jackson is much more than just a corner. He returned kickoffs, and 2 of his 23 returns resulted in touchdowns. Now that Nelson Agholor has departed to the NFL, Jackson will also be the team’s punt returner as well. Coach Steve Sarkisian has committed to using Jackson in as many ways as possible, and saw great results last season. Jackson had ten catches all season but three of them were touchdowns, including a 71-yard sprint. As much as he can handle all the snaps, the Trojans planned to get Jackson involved whenever possible.
2. Jackson is an All-American in Two Sports
As the ninth overall prospect in the recruitment class of 2014, USC knew they were getting a great athlete in Jackson. What they didn’t expect was how quickly that athleticism would transition to college sports. In addition to playing in 13 football games for the Trojans, Jackson was a standout member of the USC Track and Field team. Jackson won the Pac-12 long jump title in 2014, ran the 100 meters, and was the anchor in the 4×100 relay.
It’s safe to say that Jackson’s fast. But his true strength is in his jumping. Jackson, who started participating in the long jump in eighth grade, is a natural in the event but swears football is his first love.
3. He Wants to Compete in the 2016 Olympics
When Jackson started jumping regularly, he quickly projected his track career. Since high school, Adoree’ has targeted the 2016 Olympics as his ultimate goal. If Sark lets him, Jackson will make a real push to qualify for Team USA. And when he eventually and inevitably participates in the NFL scouting combine, he hopes to break a world record set by Byron Jones this past summer. Jones recorded a jump of 12 feet, 3 inches at the combine, a number the 19-year-old Jackson has already flirted with.
Jackson is confident in his abilites, but he is also smart enough to know his limits. In a recent interview, Jackson acknowledged that while he can participate in multiple sports, it needs time and dedication to achieve greatness in one:
I know it’s going to be hard, but God willing if I stay healthy, I’ll make it to the league and everything that may come my way, I know that I can do track a lot. [But] if I’m going to be a dominant player I got to choose one. I can be good at two sports, but I want to be great at one, so I’ll have to choose one, and I feel I need to take that opportunity now and just go at it.
4. He’s One of Several Pac-12 Players to Play Both Ways
In college football, it’s no so strange to see exceptional athletes play on both sides of the ball. In the Pac-12, however, it’s becoming a rather popular trend. Last year Washington’s Shaq Thompson played running back before being drafted by the Carolina Panthers to play linebacker. Another linebacker, UCLA’s Myles Jack, rushed for a touchdown in his first game this season. Even Ole Miss DE Robert Nkemdiche got in on the action, hauling in a 32-yard touchdown pass in his team’s opener.
The difference with Jackson is that he’s more than just a gimmick. He’s better than just an alternate option. When Jackson lines up on the outside tonight, he might be USC’s best receiver. And with his return skills, he has a chance to contend for football’s top honors this season.
5. He’s Drawing Comparisons to Charles Woodson
A corner that also plays receiver. A dynamic game-changer with speed and tenacity. A Heisman trophy winner with a successful NFL career. Is this the trajectory for Jackson?
Given Jackson’s talents and lofty goals, it’s expected he would draw comparisons to former Michigan Wolverine Charles Woodson. If you compare Woodson’s 1997 season with Jackson’s freshman campaign, most of the stats are similar. Both were dynamic returners and dangerous receivers. The difference, and reason Woodson was so successful at the next level, were the interceptions. Woodson had 8 in twelve games that season. Jackson has yet to record a pick with the Trojans. If Jackson wants to become the star he believes he’s destined to be, he needs to improve on his assigned position. But right now, shining on pure athleticism, Jackson is a must-watch for the 2015 season.