Adoree’ Jackson Could Change All-American Fortune of No. 21 Jersey


USC football’s No. 21 jersey has never been worn by an All-American. Adoree’ Jackson could change that with a number switch in 2016.

Let’s call it the Anti-All-American number. Or cursed.

USC’s No. 21 is an enigma. A number with great tradition but lacking great accolades. Maybe Adoree’ Jackson can change that.

The do-everything athlete is apparently edging towards trading in his No. 2 for the No. 21. While no change has been confirmed, at the very least the buzz on social media from Jackson and past No. 21s indicates a change is coming.

RELATED: Adoree’ Jackson Teases Number Switch On Twitter

Which makes now a great time to bring up the strange history of the No. 21 at USC.

Consider this, 70 numbers from 1 through 99 have been worn by an All-American Trojan. That’s a pretty impressive stat, but the most surprising thing about what’s missing. The No. 21 is not among them.

Some numbers lack All-American representation because they’re just not common or are frequented by unflashy positions, like the ones sat between Scott Ross’ No. 35 and Sam “Bam” Cunningham’s No. 39. At No. 36, 37 and 38 the Trojans have had players like Mosi Tatupu, a fullback; Buck Allen, a solid back at an unusual number; and Mike MacGillivray, a prolific punter.

Those are good players but none that would drop jaws without All-American recognition.

Others simply haven’t been occupied by elite players at USC, like in the 90s where No. 94 and 99 have been favored by a disproportionate number of Trojan greats on the defensive line.

That’s not the case for No. 21, which has almost always been in the rotation and has been worn by some of the best players in USC history.

It goes all the way back to Lloyd Thomas in the 1920s, a player who helped USC win its first national championship and was praised by Howard Jones as being the epitome of an All-American player, though he never earned the honor.

In more recent history, the jersey was worn by LenDale White, who sits eighth on USC’s all-time rushing list and owns Trojan records for rushing touchdowns in a season and career.

Cornerback Nickell Robey, who has established himself as a regular starter in the NFL, donned the number as well, before it was picked up by Su’a Cravens, perhaps the most athletically gifted defender USC has had this century.

That Cravens didn’t earn All-American honors with the Trojans is a point of contention. He himself made his case to be considered among USC’s greatest players ever, criticizing the process of All-American voting.

RELATED: Su’a Cravens Argues Case to Be On All-Trojan Team

That, however, doesn’t change the fact that the No. 21 is one of just four numbers in the first 25 without All-American distinction at USC.

As a junior, Jackson will hope to be the first to wear the number to put his name on USC’s wall of All-Americans. He’s in as good a position as any other to do it.

Jackson has two avenues to get it done — as a cornerback or all-purpose player/returner.

He made Phil Steele’s All-American third team at both positions in 2015. Back in 2014 he made’s All-American second team as a kick returner.

The name recognition and talent are there for Jackson, he just needs to overcome the same problem as Cravens — being too outside the box.

Versatility is a valuable asset, but it can also be a hindrance when All-American teams are selected with set positions in mind.

SEE ALSO: Adoree’ Jackson’s Hesiman Hopes Are Tied To Moments, Not Stats

Jackson may be universally praised for his ability to play defense full-time while moonlighting as a receiver and contributing as a returner, but being the best at doing a lot of things won’t guarantee him All-American status.

Being considered one of the two best cornerbacks in the country will. Thorpe Award semi-finalists Desmond King, Jordan Lewis and Shawun Lurry are also in the mix to take one of those coveted cornerback spots, along with a host of others who elevate their game in 2016.

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And while Jackson could also claim All-American nods as an all-purpose player or returner, he’ll be contending with returning consensus All-Americans Christian McCaffrey and Evan Berry in that spot.

Jackson is certainly capable of being the best at either of those positions, and being recognized as such, but it’s no more of a given for Jackson than it was for Cravens, who was a victim of circumstance and the voting process.

If Jackson is unable to make the change official and ultimately keeps his No. 2 or can’t break the All-American barrier in 2016, there will always be another playing waiting in the wings hoping to lift the legacy of one of USC’s more cherished numbers in recent history.

Highly-touted freshman wide receiver Tyler Vaughns is next in line.