USC’s Jackson earns Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year honors

Adoree’ Jackson has been as good as advertised. Upon his arrival at USC from Serra High School, Jackson was expected to play in all three phases of the game: offense, defense and special teams.

An that’s exactly what he did.

But it was on the defensive side of the ball where he really began to assert himself during his freshman season. For his efforts, Jackson was named Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year on Tuesday.

As the season wore on, the Illinois native emerged as the team’s top cornerback. He played with the type of command the team needed on the boundary after the unexpected suspension of top corner Josh Shaw at the beginning of the season.

Although he didn’t pick off any passes, Jackson was often in the right place at the right time, recording nine pass break ups and nine passes defended.

Despite his tremendous play in pass coverage, Jackson also proved to be a good tackler, especially against the run. He finished with 42 tackles on the season, which led all USC freshmen, to go with four tackles for loss.

He made his mark in other areas, as well. In seven games this season, Jackson caught two touchdown passes and proved to be a threat in the return game. His 27.7 kickoff return average is fourth in the country, spurred by a 100-yard kickoff return for touchdown against Utah earlier in the season.

Jackson is the first Trojan to win Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year since Leonard Williams in 2012. Dion Bailey won the award in the 2011. That makes three times in the last four seasons a USC player has claimed the honor.

The freshman defensive award isn’t the only honor the Pac-12 handed out Tuesday. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota was named Offensive Player of the Year. The Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year honors went to Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright III. Freshman Offensive Player of the Year honors went to Oregon running back Royce Freeman. Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez was named conference Coach of the Year.