The Lott IMPACT Trophy released its 2016 watch list on Wednesday, featuring a pair of USC football players: Adoree’ Jackson and Cam Smith.
While the 2016 watch list doesn’t prohibit anyone else from winning the award, Jackson and Smith boast the Trojans’ best chance of winning for the first time ever.
The award, which debuted in 2004, is named after USC great Ronnie Lott and is given to “college football’s Defensive Player of the Year who best exemplifies the IMPACT acronym: Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity.”
For Adoree’ Jackson, his stature as a candidate is dependent on his versatility. A three-way player who excels as a cornerback, receiver and returner, he’s USC’s most athletic and dangerous player in all three phases.
Though he said after 2015 that he could be focusing more on defense going forward. Last year, Jackson recorded eight pass breakups and 35 tackles on defense, while returning his only interception for a touchdown.
Although younger, Cam Smith’s candidacy is a direct result of his ability to be a leader. As a freshman in 2015, Smith took over for Hayes Pullard as the quarterbacking middle linebacker, and immediately became one of the most consistent playmakers on the USC defense.
He almost singlehandedly beat No. 3 Utah with a three-interception performance, one of which was taken back for a touchdown.
Smith finished with 78 tackles in just 10 games, after missing the final four games of the year due to a torn ACL. His chances of winning the Lott IMPACT Trophy will directly correspond to his recovery.
Other players named to the 2016 Lott Trophy watch list include Stanford duo Joey Alfieri and Dallas Lloyd, along with Oregon’s Arrion Springs and Alabama’s Eddie Jackson. Click here for the full list.