Adoree’ Jackson quite literally jumped, feet first, into what should be a memorable 2015 season for the USC sophomore defensive back.
His long jump of 25 feet, 3.5 inches in the Pac-12 Track & Field Championship on May 16 garnered Jackson a conference championship, and the opportunity to win the national title next month.
It’s not the only award Jackson plans to pursue this year, either.
“That’s one of the things I expect out of myself,” Jackson said following USC’s spring game on April 11, referring to the Heisman Trophy.
Jackson already started a nice collection of trophies in 2014, winning Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year and earning Freshmen All-America honors from the Football Writers Association of America. But the Heisman is at a whole other level, beyond even his Pac-12 long jump title.
Despite primarily playing cornerback, Jackson has designs he describes as “serious talk and fun at the same time” on winning college football’s most prestigious, individual honor.
Winning the Heisman as a two-sport star would put Jackson in exclusive company with such notable names as Bo Jackson, Jameis Winston and USC’s first Heisman winner, Mike Garrett.
Doing so as a defensive player first and foremost would land Jackson in a club that includes just one member: 1997 Heisman winner Charles Woodson, a player USC head coach Steve Sarkisian directly compared Jackson to in December.
Like Woodson, Jackson’s road map to New York City and the Heisman presentation is drawn on the ability to excel in all three phases.
Sarkisian played Jackson at wide receiver and returner, in addition to the then-freshman’s duties as the Trojans’ shut-down cornerback. Jackson came through with three touchdowns on offense and two on special teams — one of each coming in USC’s Holiday Bowl defeat of Nebraska.
It takes a talented player to stand out in all three phases, but talent can only go so far.
“Better than his talent is what he brings every day,” Sarkisian said following the bowl game. “As a true freshman, you think about… what he's doing in the return game, on defense, [and] we have him on offense. It's hard.”
Just as hard is juggling track & field with football, which Jackson did throughout USC’s 15-date spring practice slate. Much like his transition from cornerback to wide receiver, however, Jackson flowed smoothly from long-jumping into the sand pit, to running down teammate Steven Mitchell in the Trojans' spring game.