USC's Adoree Jackson back on gridiron after Olympic chase
Southern California's Adoree' Jackson flashes a 'V" sign as he sees coach Clay Helton at the Pac-12 NCAA college football media day in Los Angeles Thursday, July 14, 2016. Jackson is back from a seven-month break from football while he tried to qualify for the U.S. Olympic track team, and the multi-talented athlete plans to focus primarily on playing defense this fall. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
LOS ANGELES (AP) Adoree Jackson had to change some routines in order to go from the football field to the track, but there's one thing he couldn't give up: McDonald's.
The Trojans' multipurpose football star attempted a run at the Olympics this spring by forgoing spring ball and instead competing in track and field, but he never quite learned how to eat like a sprinter. Jackson refused to give up his trips to McDonald's, much to the chagrin of the USC track coaches.
''I love it. It's my go-to,'' Jackson said Thursday at Pac-12 football media days in Hollywood. ''A lot of people on the team try to get me to eat healthier. If I go out with them, I'll eat what they want me to eat and do the things that they want me to do just to be a team player. But if I don't go out with them, I eat McDonald's.''
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Jackson has a renewed hunger for football as he returns to USC for his junior season. He maintained his football weight of 180 throughout the track season despite requests to drop down to 170, which he found difficult with such a voracious appetite and a love of cooking.
''I don't eat poorly,'' Jackson said. ''Well, I don't think I eat poorly, but a lot of people might think so if you've seen my Snapchat. Last night, I had McDonald's: Two McChickens, a fish filet, a large fry and a large sweet tea. That's just how I love to eat. That's how I've been since I was a kid in Illinois. That's all I do. I don't recommend that anybody eat like that on the track.''
Ultimately, Jackson failed to qualify for the U.S. track and field team. After winning the Pac-12 long jump title, he finished fifth at the NCAA Championships and fourth in the 4×100 relay. With his Rio dreams behind him, he has returned his attention to football.
USC's first three-way player in nearly 20 years, Jackson – or ''Superman,'' as coach Clay Helton called him – starts at cornerback as well as returns kicks and punts. He also plays on offense as a receiver.
Jackson plans to focus primarily on cornerback this season, with returning duties coming second. With six returning receivers, he expects to catch fewer passes but still be utilized in specific offensive packages.
Jackson caught 27 passes for 414 yards and two touchdowns in 2015, made 35 tackles and an interception at cornerback, and returned 30 kicks for 690 yards and two touchdowns.
In between track practices, Jackson stayed up to date with spring football by borrowing iPads that came preloaded with the playbook. There's no worry that seven months away from football was detrimental.
''There is a month and a half to be able to get ready prior to that first football game,'' Helton said. ''To be back with the football team doing that change of direction, explosive movements that are needed, he has got plenty of time.''
Back from the track and back from the drive-thru window, Jackson is ready to help the Trojans return to the Pac-12 championship game.
''I'm always disappointed, but I've just got to shoot for (the) 2020 (Olympics),'' Jackson said. ''I'm back into football and I'm 100 percent ready for it.''