USC's triple threat weapon Adoree Jackson is one of the most talked about players in the country, and for good reason. Not only is Jackson a lockdown cornerback, but he can also burn opponents with the ball in his hands on offense as a receiver or on special teams as a returner.
While everyone else around the country is talking about Jackson, we got the opportunity to sit down and talk with him. Jackson talked about his personal life, handling the spotlight, his Olympic aspirations, and the upcoming football season.
What do you like to do outside of football?
I just like to hangout with friends, play a couple video games, listen to some music, or go play some basketball in my spare time
What was the recruiting process like?
For me I think it was different from everybody, it was way more laid back because I took control of it and let it be how I wanted it to be. So I took control, and let it be more smooth and laid back to my personality...
When I talked to Sark he told me basically he was going to put me in the positions where I can do whatever I want and it's up to me what I want to do with it, and that stuck out to me and it meant a lot because if a coach tells you you're going to start right away, it's probably slim to none because you never know how true that is, but from coach Sark saying that he's going to give me the opportunity to come out here and play offense, and play defense, and do special teams, it means a lot because I knew he was going to give me a fresh eye.
What do you think of being compared to Charles Woodson?
I like his style a lot and I've seen him play [in] his highlight tapes and his game is very smooth and when he's out there he's very electrifying, and it's just an honor to be a resemblance of someone in his game and the way he played it. For me, I just want to reach some of those things he did and then do some things that are a little different in my way, so that kids want to be like the next me.
Last season you were playing corner, returning kicks, and playing wide receiver. With Nelson Agholor now gone, you will also be returning punts. What do you think about that new role?
I feel good and comfortable with it, I did it in high school. It's just me getting more comfortable in college catching punts. I did it once against Utah, that was the only game I was back there, and UCLA. So, it's going to be a little bit different. With special teams in college, that's the most important because you can lose a game or win a game on special teams.
Last year in the Holiday Bowl against Nebraska, you had that flip into the end zone. Can you walk us through that moment when you were running toward the end zone? Did you plan the flip ahead of time?
It was a couple days at practice that we had before the game, I remember telling coach Sark if I score, I told the whole coaching staff, I was going to flip into the end zone, and he was like ‘okay sure' and so when it happened, I remember my dad called me the night before and was like ‘I can't be at the game, so do something for me' and when I broke, that was the whole thing going through my mind, I knew I was going to flip, I knew I was going to do it for my dad, I knew I already told coach Sark about it, so I [felt] like he couldn't be that mad about it—the only thing he was mad about was that I didn't land it. So that's how everything played out.
Not only are you a star on the football team, but you also placed first in the Pac-12 for the long jump, and fifth nationally. What made qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this summer a goal of yours?
When I was in eighth grade, when I first started doing long jump, I went 21 feet 11 inches and there was talk about how good I could be in it, and I was like well, maybe I should just go out there for the Olympics. Then my freshman year of high school I went 23 [feet] 11 [inches] and I was just thinking maybe this is what I was built for; maybe I can be really good at it. So now I just want to take the steps because Rio is coming up. And 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.
What will it take to reach that goal and qualify?
A lot of focus and determination on my side. No one can win it for me. Everybody can say ‘I want to see you make it' but if I don't want it as bad as them, then it doesn't matter. So I decided to put the work in day in and day out so I can get out there.
What does Sarkisian think of this?
He said my aspirations are fine with him. He's not going to shy away from me for trying to make it to the Olympics, he's all for it. At the end of the day I still have to do what's right for him, because I'm on a football scholarship.
How has the team handled the preseason hype and the pressure that comes with it?
I think we handle it pretty well, because we've seen when we were in Boston College we were ranked number nine in the nation. I guess we looked past that game, and you [saw] that we took an L and our rankings went down. So we know now that even if we're ranked that high, people are still going to give us their best shots because they're going against USC. So we're handling it pretty well, we know we're just going to have to finish every game.
How often does the 2012 season come up? When USC fell from No. 1 in the nation to 7-6.
We talk about it a lot because we know it could be a similar situation, but us being ranked, like I said, number nine in the nation going to Boston College and us losing that game, we know what can happen. Football is not predictable; you can't go out there and think you're going to win every game because you never know what can happen throughout the season. But we know what can happen and we've seen what happened to us last year.
Last year the team would have finished 10-2 with a shot at the Pac-12 title if it weren't for two fourth quarter collapses. How has that issue been addressed this offseason?
We just work on finishing, whatever we're doing. Finishing to the ball. Finishing in a workout. Finishing on a run. Whatever it may be, we work on finishing, because we've seen what happened in the fourth quarter when we didn't finish. So we stressed finishing a lot and put it in our heads so it's just second nature, like breathing to us.
Phil Steele ranked USC's schedule as the second hardest in the nation only behind Alabama. Which games do you see as the biggest challenges and why?
For me, it starts off when we got Arkansas State, and every game right after that. That's going to be the biggest challenge because we can't overlook anybody, because if we overlook them, we might take an L. So we just got to take every game, every practice, every day, every week, one at a time because you never know what may happen.
Outside of games, what are you looking forward to most about this season?
See[ing] how we bond and click as a family. That's one of the things we want to do, just be a family together. That's what I'm looking forward to, hanging out together and having a good time, protecting the team and doing everything the right way.
To hear Jackson talk more about the recruiting process, playing all three sides of the ball, how he will reach his goal of qualifying for the 2016 Olympics, and more in-depth about this year's USC football team, listen to the full interview on Moving The Chains: A Football Podcast on iTunes here or online here.