Against Colorado, Adoree' Jackson returned the opening kickoff of the second half 38 yards. It was exactly the yardage he needed to tie Curtis Conway’s school record for career kickoff return yardage.
But it wasn’t until a week and a half later that Jackson was informed he was tied for a school record. No one told him prior to the Arizona game, but the Wildcats made sure Jackson wouldn’t take the record, kicking the ball away from him every time.
Two weeks later, Cal tried to do the same. But Jackson was prepared. He had watched how the kicker was lining up and approaching the football on his run up. Ajene Harris was supposed to get the ball, but Jackson told Harris beforehand that he was going to run over to Harris’ side to field the kick.
Jackson knew he needed one yard and he was determined to set the record this week.
Harris told him to let him know if Jackson wanted him to take the kick. That wasn’t happening. USC’s all-around All-American sped over and nabbed the return.
“He was like 'I don't know how you got over there so fast.' I said, 'I was thirsty for it, fam,'" Jackson said. "That's pretty much what it was. I was just trying to break it just to get one yard and then just have fun after that.”
Jackson returned the kick 22 yards, taking sole possession of first place. Conway tweeted his congratulations to Jackson.
After the game, Jackson saw Conway’s acknowledgment and planned to thank him.
“That's huge coming from him -- a guy that was legendary, basically do what I do before me. Just to have him acknowledge me and see what I'm doing is just amazing. So I'm thankful for that. Then to be able for him to just shout me out was cool.”
But in the stadium, after his return, there was no announcement, so Jackson wondered to himself if he had been misinformed previously.
“I was like, 'Dang. Probably I didn't get it. They probably was lying to me the whole time,’” Jackson said. A quarter later, USC pointed out the record over the PA system. “It was a surprise, so I was happy.”
The never-ending beaming, bright white smile quickly crept across Jackson’s face. He joked with walk-on Jalen Jones, who has played with Jackson since their high school days. He waved to the crowd thanking them for the cheers. He shook hands with nearly half the USC roster. The smile never wavered.
Watch Adoree’ Jackson, above, talk about his record, Ajene Harris’ strong night and how he thinks the team is progressing as USC heads into November.
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