On the final day to declare for the NFL Draft, junior cornerback Adoree’ Jackson announced that he will forego his senior season to enter the professional league.
Known for his explosive performances on both sides of the ball, Jackson led the team in punt returns, kick returns and interceptions in his final season. He totalled over 1,000 yards off of returns alone, dazzling fans and teammates alike with his leaping dashes from one end zone to the other.
His impact off the field was equally renowned. Whether it was turning backflips during practice or wearing the red “C” of a captain into every game, Jackson’s presence was felt throughout the team.
Jackson’s decision was closely watched following the Rose Bowl, as he posted cryptically on social media about his chances to return to win the Heisman or the National Championship. The announcement comes after junior wide receiver JuJu Smith Schuster decided to enter the draft as well.
It also comes on the heels of an ankle injury in the third quarter of the Rose Bowl that kept Jackson off the field for the remainder of the game. Though the injury did not keep the Trojans from their last-minute defeat over Penn State, it weighed into how Jackson viewed the decision to stay or go.
“After the Rose Bowl, I had many thoughts running through my head,” Jackson said. “What was on my mind is that nothing is guaranteed in life and to take advantage of every opportunity that is put in front of you.”
At USC, Jackson also excelled as a track athlete, winning the Pac-12 Championship in long jump and anchoring the 4 x 100 meter team to fourth place in the NCAA Championship meet. That team’s final time of 38.75 remains the second-fastest in school history.
Despite his revered status as a Trojan, Jackson’s draft stock is widely debated. A mock draft by Walter Football puts him at first overall, while Bleacher Report drops him out of the first round at 60th overall. The ultimate decision won’t be made until April 28th.
The possibility that Jackson would leave a year early was well-known throughout the Trojan fanbase, and his final game in the Coliseum was filled with rumbling chants of “One more year.” Although he couldn’t give the fans what they wanted, Jackson left them with the second-best thing — a Rose Bowl victory and a legacy that will be impossible to forget anytime soon.
“It’s been an incredible three years playing for one of the greatest traditions in college football,” Jackson said. “I made the best decision of my life when I chose to come to USC, and finishing it off with a Rose Bowl win is one of the best ways I could ever hoped for it to end. Being a Trojan was the best time of my life and I’ll never ever forget my time here at USC.”