- Johnny Curren, WeAreSC, Reporter
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Tee Martin put it best. Asked to describe Trojans sophomore Adoree' Jackson following a fall camp practice session late last month, the USC wide receivers coach didn't mince words.
"He's like a highlight film," Martin said.
No statement could have been more appropriate.
Coming off a 2014 campaign in which he emerged as one of the nation's most dynamic three-way talents, earning Freshman All-American and Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year honors, he's been the overwhelming star of the USC practice sessions leading up to the Trojans' home opener against Arkansas State this Saturday.
Whether it be as a wide receiver or running back on offense, a cornerback on defense, or a punt and kick return man on special teams, Jackson has been making game-breaking plays on Brian Kennedy-Howard Jones Field that have had everyone in attendance ooing and aahing on a remarkably consistent basis, making it seem like there simply isn't anything that he can't do on the football field.
He further hammered that point home late in camp when, at the behest of USC head coach Steve Sarkisian, he was asked to step in and attempt a 25-yard field goal, before promptly sending it straight through the middle of the uprights.
"I'm just looking to do whatever the team needs me to do," said Jackson, whose last field goal attempt came during his junior season at Gardena (Calif.) Serra. "I'm just having fun with everything."
But there's more to it than that, and more than just his phenomenal all-around athletic talents -- the same abilities that allowed him to win the Pac-12 long jump championship this past May, before finishing fifth at the NCAA track and field championships a month later.
No, according to Martin, the real secret to Jackson's success is his high football IQ.
"It's his intelligence," Martin said of Jackson. "Great football players are also some of the smartest players out there. They aren't just physically better than everybody else -- that's rare. Most of the times the great ones are some of the smartest players, and in his case he's extremely, extremely intelligent."
A full-time starter on defense a year ago who saw spot duty at wide receiver, Jackson is hoping to take on a larger role in the Trojans offense in 2015, going so far as to say recently that he'd like to receive 40 snaps a game on that side of the ball. The most he received on offense in any single game as a freshman was 13.
That's part of the reason why he hit the offensive playbook harder than ever this past summer and on into fall camp.
"I've been out there a lot, just learning everything, and more on the different positions -- outside receiver, inside receiver and running back, and learning more about what I can do so no one knows what to expect," Jackson said. "So when people see me out there they won't just think, ‘Oh, he's going to do this.'"
Still, 40 offensive plays a game, in addition to his normal defensive responsibilities, is probably a little bit of a stretch, particularly with USC head coach Steve Sarkisian leery of the potential of Jackson wearing down or getting injured.
"We're obviously better when he's out there on both sides of the ball," Sarkisian said. "It's just going to be a real challenge for us as a staff to manage him properly so that we get the best out of him, and so he can get the best out of himself."
In the end, it's that delicate balancing act of deciding when, how much, and where to play Jackson that could wind up playing a significant role in what kind of success the Trojans find on the field this fall.
But according to Jackson, his head coach has nothing to worry about. Determined to make as much of an impact for the Trojans as possible this season, he says that the possibility of him ever being too tired or worn down simply doesn't exist ... at least not in his mind.
"If I was, I wouldn't tell [Sarkisian]," Jackson joked. "It would just have to be one of those things where he'd have to tell me to come out."
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