It did not take long for USC standout Adoree’ Jackson to put in work on both sides of the ball during the 2017 Rose Bowl. A few regulated minutes after making an interception, Jackson was rushing the ball on a first-and-goal play. Once Penn State regained possession, Jackson remained on the field, forcing running back Saquon Barkley out of bounds.
Two plays later, Jackson was in the backfield, waiting for kicker Blake Gillikin’s punt and returned for 13 yards on the play. Ultimately, he racked up 156 all-purpose yards in the Rose Bowl, 96 in four kickoff returns, 21 from running back an interception, and 13 from the punt return aforementioned.
“I pray before the game, ask the Lord to take the nerves and jitters away from me before every game,” Jackson said. “Then we go out there and play loose and free.”
His efforts on January 2 were merely a glimpse of athleticism and intelligence that Jackson displayed throughout his career. A result of his work came in the form of his 2016 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honor and a place on the All-Pac-12 First Team at two positions.
During one out of his 36 career starts, Jackson was both a starting wide receiver and cornerback. When the Trojans played Notre Dame in November, Jackson became the first USC player in over 50 years to score from a kick and a punt return in the same game.
The efforts Jackson displayed on both sides of the ball was a catalyst to the numerous achievements the USC Trojans acquired this season. USC won both of their rivalry games, earned ninth place on the AP Top 25, and won the Rose Bowl with the help of Jackson.
Throughout the 2016 season, Jackson showed off his explosive ability as a returner; he is fifth in all-time punt return yards at USC.
When asked about favorite moments of the season, USC head coach Clay Helton recalled the Notre Dame rivalry match where Jackson jumped over a Fighting Irish defender to run in a touchdown.
“I think about the hurdle by Adoree’ Jackson in the Notre Dame game to get the Shillelagh,” Helton said, “I don’t know if I’ll ever coach another one like him, because of his humility and humbleness along with his talent.”
Jackson racked up 22 kickoff returns for 671 yards this season. As a cornerback, Jackson executed 51 tackles, 11 deflections, and four interceptions. The returner-cornerback-wide receiver is a product of Serra High School, like pro running back George Farmer and pro wide receiver Paul Richardson.
“Having a coach who has experience, all the other great players that come from there before us and to understand what it takes to get to this position…and how to prepare,” Jackson said. “I think Serra did a great job of preparing me.”
Jackson moved to California from Illinois prior to his sophomore year in high school and made an impact on Serra’s athletic department by playing football, basketball, and running track.
In 2013, Jackson’s senior year, he made five touchdowns as a running back, seven as a wide receiver, and three as a return specialist. As a junior, Jackson won the 2012 state long jump title and helped the Cavalier football team win the CIF Division II State Championship.
“You saw it in high school,” Helton said. “To watch what he did in high school both on offense, defense and special teams, you just knew you had a sense that if he keeps progressing, that he was gonna be on of the elite three-way players of college football.”