Adoree’ Jackson: USC’s One in a Million Man of Many Faces


USC phenom Adoree’ Jackson has one of the most unique combinations of game and personality in college football, but he’s shaped and driven by the ideals of those who have come before him.

It’s difficult to pin down a simple description of Adoree’ Jackson. He’s too many things all at once. And he’d like to be even more than that.

But the USC athlete isn’t lacking ideas of what he could do and who he could be like, as he ran through a bevy of comparisons during his time at Pac-12 Media Days last week in Hollywood.

If he were a full-time receiver he’d aspire to be Steve Smith, Antonio Brown, Victor Cruz or Tayvon Austin, all smallish receivers who have had success.

It’s not that Adoree’ Jackson isn’t of a particular breed. It is that he’s rare.

“It’s hard when you’re my height, to go out there and be a receiver,” Jackson said. “I feel like I could do it, but at the end of the day, [NFL GMs] are trying to draft receivers who are 6-6 and above. I’m 5-11.”

The players he references “are just a different breed.”

It’s not that Jackson isn’t of that breed. It is that he’s rare himself.

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Jackson is a defensive player, a role he likes whether on the football field or basketball court.

If he was a hooper, he says he would be like Tony Allen. Or perhaps two of the pivotal role players on the Cleveland Cavaliers’ title-winning team.

“I’m like [Matthew] Dellavedova. I’m not really trying to shoot the ball. I’m playing defense,” said Jackson. “I’m like J.R. Smith. I’m stealing passes, trying to look good for the team. I’ll do whatever I can.”

If he was in a dunking contest with teammate Zach Banner, he’d be Derrick Rose, his favorite player.

Banner would be Shaquille O’Neal, which seems like an apt comparison both being capable of breaking the backboard

On the style front, Jackson says Banner can keep his newly shaved head. He’s only ever trimmed his braids, and there’s a reason for that.

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“I didn’t want to be Jordan growing up,” Jackson explained. “I always wanted to be Allen Iverson.”

When he tried golf on a simulator he tried to access his inner Tiger Woods but didn’t quite get there.

He knows what he’s not as a golfer though.

“I’m better than Charles Barkley, I can tell you that,” Jackson said.

Of course, when you ask him who he compares to on the football field, he says there’s no one.

“I feel like everybody does something different and unique,” Jackson said. “We all might do something similar but never the same so I can’t really compare myself to anybody’s game.”

That’s not to say he doesn’t reference a number of players in whose footsteps he wants to follow.

The likes of Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu, Deion Sanders and, of course, Charles Woodson — all special athletes who sought to impact the game on multiple levels as defenders and special teams stars — earn a mention in the pantheon of players his game is styled after.

Jackson doesn’t particularly like returning kicks, but Petersen and Mathieu did it. Sanders even scored on a kick return in the NFL, so he supposes he can do it as well.

Sanders also played three different sports in college, so naturally, Jackson has petitioned the basketball team to let him get some minutes in on the hardwood.

“Just let me play three minutes at the end of the game so I can say, ‘Listen I played three sports in college,'” Jackson said. “You’ve got Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders and Jackie Robinson. That’s rare. So I could be on Mount Rushmore with those guys who play three sports.”

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That’s a theme for Jackson — joining the greats, not being them.

He wants to be fast like Chris Johnson, but only exactly as fast as Johnson so they can share the record for the fastest 40-yard dash in NFL Combine history. He wants to be on a poster with him.

Looking at LSU and Arizona Cardinals teammates Peterson and Mathieu, the closest thing he has to peers in this era, their dueling griminess as cornerbacks and flashiness as returners is something Jackson aspires to imitate.

Their swagger and confidence is something he shares.

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“Often imitated but never duplicated,” Jackson insists. “You can try to imitate them as much as you can. Like everyone wants to imitate Michael Jordan but nobody ever will be Michael Jordan.”

So what does it mean to be Adoree’ Jackson?

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He is many things, could be many things and aspires to be many things. However, the most important thing to be, the thing he got from his mom and dad and he values most, is to be a good person.

“I really couldn’t care less about what I am as a football player or a track athlete,” Jackson said. “At the end of the day, it’s about who I am when I’m winning and when I’m losing and how I am overall as a person.”