If there is one word to describe sophomore cornerback Adoree Jackson, it would be versatile. He showed his versatility in 2016, by playing three different positions and producing for each of them. His explosiveness on both sides of the ball should make Trojan fans eager to see what he can produce in 2016.
Playing the cornerback, returner, and wide receiver positions, he became the program’s first three-way player in two decades. Seeing 157 plays on offense, 657 on defense, and 157 on special teams, he was all over the field.
On the defensive side of the ball, Jackson had 35 tackles, 8 deflections, a forced fumble, and an interception return for a touchdown. His best game came on November 28 against crosstown rival UCLA as he registered six solo tackles and two pass deflections as the Trojans came away victorious, 40-21.
Offensively, he had 27 receptions for 414 yards and two TDs while at the receiver position. In addition to showcasing his talents at wideout, he slid into the role of running back, carrying the ball 7 times for 36 yards, showcasing his speed.
Jackson found his niche at returner, providing USC with what seemed like tremendous field position every time he went back to take a kick. He took the ball 30 times for 690 yards on kickoff return, while returning punts 24 times for 251 yards and two touchdowns. He was (literally) everywhere on the field for the Trojans and provided them with a spark every time he touched the football.
What can we expect from Jackson in 2016? My thinking is more of the same. Due to the amount of talent at the wide receiver position, I would not expect him to see many opportunities there, while cornerback should be his primary position. Quick dump-off passes as a running back in certain packages and schemes are the most likely way I could see him getting multiple touches due to the ample depth at the wide receiver position.
Cornerback on the other hand is a different story. Jackson made a big impact last year at the position as a freshman and should provide that same spark in 2016. He showed an excellent awareness for the ball and was not afraid to make a play in any given situation. I expect him to play a big role at the position and become a key part of the defense.
As far as his duties are concerned on kickoff return, he should remain a catalyst in that area. Using his speed, he is able to find the open holes and "turn on the jets" once he gets into the open field. We saw it last year and there is nothing to suggest anything will change in that area. He should be able to provide the offense with good field position following punt and kickoff returns, something that will help the new offense immensely.
Statistically, I would expect a season that includes 50 tackles, 10 deflections and two interceptions at corner, and at least 30 touches for 700 yards on kickoff return. On punt returns, at least 30 touches for 350 yards and three touchdowns would be achievable as the Trojans look for Jackson to have a big ‘16 season.