One of the most versatile and touted recruits of 2014, Adoree' Jackson, made first-year USC coach Steve Sarkisian very happy.
Sarkisian's biggest problem is figuring out how to use him, and without the benefit of spring practice, do so in roughly a month's time. Does Sarkisian put Jackson on defense at cornerback, which seems like a great fit given his athleticism, or on offense at wide receiver? Putting Jackson on punt and/or kickoff returns seems like a given.
"I think he's going to get some of both, quite honestly," Sarkisian told Rahshaun Haylock of Fox Sports West in April. "I bet he does a couple things on each side of the ball on day one because we need to gather the information."
It certainly wouldn't be an unprecedented move. Just across Los Angeles, UCLA's Myles Jack made a name for himself last season by contributing as a two-way player at linebacker and running back. A few years before that, Owen Marecic played fullback and linebacker for Stanford, scoring a touchdown on both sides of the ball against Notre Dame in 2010.
The list goes on and on.
Eventually, for the sake of USC and Jackson, he'll need to settle on a position. Maybe that happens this year, maybe next. It's not that Jackson will never contribute in multiple spots again, but it's best if he grows in one position.
So which one would it be?
USC has talent at wide receiver. It begins with Nelson Agholor, who finished last year with 918 receiving yards and six touchdowns. George Farmer, Darreus Rogers and Victor Blackwell all have plenty of potential, but need to take bigger steps.
Similarly, USC has talent at cornerback, but depth is an even bigger concern there, especially with the departure of Dion Bailey to the NFL. According to Scout.com's Scott Kennedy, Jackson has all the tools to be a great corner:
He's not simply explosive though; he's flexible and displays terrific balance. He's strong enough to press a receiver at the line of scrimmage and can turn and run with anyone. He shows of his balance with the ball in his hands as he breaks and spins out of tackles before out running defenders.
With depth being what it is in the secondary, there could be a more pressing need for Jackson's services there. Ultimately, defensive back seems like a more natural fit for for Jackson. It's not as glamorous in an increasingly offensive-focused game, but, at 5'9" and 182 pounds, it might be where he's physically better suited in the long run.
But, for the time being, it wouldn't be surprising for Jackson to see playing time in all three phases of the game—offense, defense and special teams—as the season gets under way. Frankly, USC needs that sort of versatility. The Trojans are still battling depth issues post-NCAA sanctions, so the opportunity is there for the 5-star prospect to make an immediate impact in multiple places.
Jackson will settle into a spot before his career in L.A is over. For 2014, though, Sarkisian needs Jackson to be a utility player for the Trojans.
Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand. All recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.
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