Defensive End: Drake Jackson
USC fans who didn’t get excited about Drake Jackson’s Spring Camp debut had to have been living under a rock, or hiding from the memory of the 5-7 campaign in 2018.
Either way, the defensive end was one of the bright spots of camp, drawing comparisons from coaches to Rasheem Green and Leonard Williams. And that was even before he made a ridiculous one-handed grab for a pick six in the Trojans’ Spring Showcase.
Jackson has even been featured on a couple All-Pac-12 squads, most notably Phil Steele’s fourth team defensive line.
That’s a lot of hype for a true freshman, but the 6-foot-4, 260-pounder from Corona Centennial is as exciting as they come. He’s already big enough to contribute and Spring Camp showed that he has the necessary strength and explosiveness to be effective off the edge.
He’s not guaranteed to lock down a starting job just yet. Still, if he produced even half of what Williams did as a true freshman in 2012—13.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks—then it will be a hell of a breakout year for him. And an even better sign for the Trojans overall strength on defense.
When it comes to predicting the Defensive Freshman of the Year in the Pac-12 for 2019, it may very well come down to Jackson and Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux.