Adoree’ Jackson and JuJu Smith-Schuster paired with popular pencil artist Keegan Hall on “Trojans For Life,” a hyper-realistic drawing to celebrate their USC football legacy.
The first time Adoree’ Jackson saw Keegan Hall’s work, he was impressed by drawings of Seattle Seahawks Pro Bowler Richard Sherman and President Barack Obama.
Now the Thorpe Award winner finds himself in the company of those two cultural icons as the subject of a drawing of his own, alongside teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster.
When the opportunity arose to put something together with the artist, Jackson jumped on it with the game-for-anything mentality which has defined his athletics career.
“Shoot, I never had a portrait before. So I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m down.'”
Jackson and Smith-Schuster have been a pair since they committed to USC, so it seemed natural to undertake this project together.
Smith-Schuster didn’t need much convincing, except on one front.
“He told me it was hand drawn, and I was like, ‘No, that’s not possible’,” Smith-Schuster said.
It took a video of Hall actually drawing for him to believe the feat.
Hall specializes in these hyper-realistic pencil drawings. They look just like black and white photos, but they’re drawn by hand — 50 hours of work — with just one pencil.
Perhaps the most incredible part is Hall has only been doing this work for the better part of two years, after first receiving attention online for a drawing of Michael Jordan.
“No one even knew I drew, and everyone was like, ‘Wow, that’s really good.’” Hall said, inspired to pick up his pencil for the first time in nearly a decade by the passing of a loved one. “That was the motivation to draw the next one, and it kind of snowballed quickly from there.”
It’s snowballed so far that Hall has teamed up with sports figures like Sherman, Michael Bennett and Jermaine Kearse as well as music industry giants Macklemore and Ryan Lewis to raise money for charity. His work has been featured on the Today Show and been personally praised by the president of the United States.
The latest unexpected turn of the journey saw the University of Washington grad spend 50 hours penciling an image of the same players who upset his Huskies in November.
In fact, the shot of Jackson is from that game, celebrating after his second interception to help clinch USC’s 26-13 victory.
Hall looked for images which would translate well to pencil. White jerseys on a dark background help make the subjects pop, so he found pictures of the two during USC away games.
The image of Jackson celebrating fit another criteria. Hall wanted to feature each player’s distinct personality in the drawing.
That’s what comes through — Jackson’s smiling exuberance and Smith-Schuster’s intense focus.
There are 500 limited edition prints of the drawing, available at KeeganHall.com, all of which have been signed by the artist and two subjects.
With this first foray into the realm of college football, Hall is expanding his reach and has plans to branch out into other artistic arenas.
On the verge of branching out into the NFL themselves, Jackson and Smith-Schuster view the project as a chance to link back to their Trojan roots and as a celebration of their combined legacy.
“Trojans For Life,” they call it because their USC connection won’t end after just three years in cardinal and gold.
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“When we came into USC, we knew that they were just coming out of sanctions and there were a lot of coaches changing. It really wasn’t stable,” Smith-Schuster said. “But we wanted to come here and make a difference.”
The goal was to put USC back on the map. After an epic Rose Bowl victory to cap their careers, Jackson and Smith-Schuster believe they’ve accomplished that goal.
“We set that statement, that SC is back and we can keep moving forward,” said Smith-Schuster.
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The duo hope to see their teammates go on to bigger and better things — another Rose Bowl or a playoff berth. But it’s about more than that.
When Jackson and Smith-Schuster made their college decisions, one figure loomed large over the rest — Reggie Bush.
The two wanted to follow in his footsteps. And now they want others to follow in theirs.
“Now hopefully, kids say ‘I want to go to SC because of JuJu’, or ‘I want to go to SC because of Adoree’.’ [The legacy is] just something that we left behind to bring that excitement back here,” Jackson said.