Adoree' Jackson's Rose Bowl press conference

USC cornerback and return man Adoree' Jackson answers questions at his Rose Bowl press conference.

Here are all of Adoree' Jackson's quotes:

How much does your reputation as being the top DB in the country help you in a game like this?

Just makes you want to prepare, know what's at task, and it's pretty much all about preparation.

Do you think they are going to challenge you, just based on your reputation, or stay away from you?

I think every team is willing to challenge anybody. So you always expect the unexpected and you've always got to be ready no matter what.

These two schools have a connection that goes deeper than the on-field stuff. How much does it add knowing you both came from the same place?

Not much because it's all about the game and on the field. Things off the field are not really a factor in this game. All those things were in the past and now it's two different present teams that are at stake, so we haven't really – I wouldn't say the teams themselves haven't really dealt with some of those issues, and we've seen the end of them, so I don't think that has a factor in this game.

What are some of the things that stand out about Penn State?

A great team, have a great quarterback. They are pretty balanced with the run and the pass. When you see a team like that, you have to make sure that you limit one thing and make sure that you don't let both things be explosive.

You talked about how this is a dream come true for you, what is it like to be in this position right now?

It's a blessing to be here and have this opportunity to play in the Rose Bowl. My first two years, we were at the Holiday Bowl and this is like a Bowl game that USC has always been in and always cherished and wanted to play for.

You have a chance to post the 25th Rose Bowl win in school history; is that special?

It's pretty big to know the amount of teams that came. We have a practice facility that says 24 Rose Bowl winners and just to be able to get a new number and paint that up there, that means our part in history and we're stuck there.

What's your first memories of the Rose Bowl game?

I can just think, because I'm from Illinois, so I remember the time when Juice Williams and everybody played here. We ended up losing but that's pretty much one of my standing memories of the Rose Bowl game.

Do you see anything in Trace McSorley that you see in your own quarterback, similar styles?

Pretty dynamic, that's what I see in him and our quarterback. Can make plays with their feet or their arm, and it's one of those things where when you see a guy like that, you want to contain him because he may get out of the pocket, he may stay in the pocket, he may do all these kind of things, but he can affect you in all type of ways. That's what I see. They are playmakers, in my opinion.

Does going up against Sam [Darnold] in practice help you prepare for McSorley?

It can help you prepare but everybody brings something different, so we don't know exactly how he is in the game and what he may do. We just have a sense and what we see on film but we never know what may happen in a game.

I know you guys are locked in on the game, but have you thought about your future after the game at all?

I wanted to get into real estate, if that's what you're asking. That's pretty much what I do after the game of football. Try to make as much money as I can, not really doing much. Try to sell stuff, open up shopping centers, apartments, whatever it may be. Just be in the real estate business.

Penn State, you look at them on film, what makes them so dangerous of an offense?

They have an offense that can pass the ball and run the ball, when you look at that, that's pretty much hard to stop because you look at the run, they can open up the run game and you focus on the run, they throw it to the pass game and vice versa.

Does it remind you of a mixture of every team you've played this year; how dangerous is that?

Like I said, if they run the ball pretty well, you want to stop the run and that obviously brings in the linebackers or safeties or whatever it may be to look down in the box and try to stop the run and opens up for the pass game with the play-action.

The pass game has been probably the most impressive thing they have done especially in the second half, when you look at the receiving core, quarterback that can sling it far, as somebody in the secondary, what do you have to focus on?

Just one of those things where everything has to click at the right moment and it did for them in the second half of the season. For us, it's just about being disciplined and doing the little things better in that game, not try to focus too much on what they have on their side of the plate and just focus on our plate that we have in front of us.

Facing an explosive offense every day in practice, does that help you at all?

I guess it's ready. I guess it's prepared for the game. When you go against a team that's different, everybody doesn't have to give the same look at what they give out there. You see what they do on film but you get out there, it gets you prepared and kind of ready, and you're not really getting the real taste yet.

When we talked to you before Notre Dame, we went through the checklist of the four things you wanted to do when you came to USC and since then, unanimous All-American Thorpe winner, what's the last couple weeks been like?

It's been pretty cool. It's pretty much a blessing just the things that I talked about

wanting to get, I've spoken into existence and it came through. Now it's just about keep working hard and keep trying to get all the goals and all of the things that I have on my list to be reached. And whatever I want to do in life, that's pretty much how I go forward with life, just make sure I keep working towards getting what I want.

What do you remember about the banquet circuit? What stood out?

It was just meeting all the other players, actually getting to see them face-to-face. We talk on social media, whatever it may be, and we've actually never been in person, because we're always playing football, traveling, doing whatever it may be and everybody is in different parts of the country. Just to be there and build relationships and talk to those guys pretty much was the coolest part about the trip.

The last couple weeks we've seen notable guys, [Christian] McCaffrey, for net, running back at Baylor, pass on the Bowl games to start NFL prep. Were guys talking at all, any sense that those sort of moves might be coming when you guys were hanging out?

No, those things weren't talked about. I don't think Leonard [Fournette] or McCaffrey, I don't know in the running back – I mean, I didn't talk to any of those guys about anything, about a decision they was making.

In the locker room, what's the reaction been like? Has it been something guys have talked about and noticed?

No, we got asked about it from you guys before in practice, but in the locker room, we are not really worried about what somebody else is doing. We've got the Rose Bowl in front of us and a great team in Penn State, so we are pretty much focused on that and not worried about the outside.

Where do you feel like you've improved most as a corner?

Just all-around my game. Coming up in the run game, making tackles, making plays in the air. When coverage is getting better, working on my technique and developing still. I've still got ways to go, but as you've seen, only had this for a month – I was only here for August, to being recognized at top DB in the nation and to be All- American of a month's work shows that I can't wait to get out there and have a whole set of months of just training for football in my life. I think I took strides but it's still more, more strides to go.

Because of how much you've improved, if you've came back, would you pass on track and go through spring ball and focus on that?

Yeah, I already made that decision. I don't need to be out there all practice for track. I mean, it's not the Olympic year any more and it's pretty much about myself and my future at this point. So yeah, I would be passing on track just to focus on myself and try to get better for this team.

Have you gotten a round grade from the draft advisor yet?

No, I haven't even asked for looked for it.

Clay had you fill out one for yourself?

He asked if we wanted it and I said it was cool. I wasn't really, I wouldn't say, too much over there stressing about it because I'm here trying to play ball and win this game.

How excited are you for this game and stop talking about draft stuff and just get out there with your guys?

Yeah, I'm excited just to get out there, like you said, with our team and guys that have been here for four or five years, so to experience been through all the downfalls and everything they went through.

Just to still be here and how the adversity hit us and how we hit it back. Last year, went to the Pac 12 Championship Game, didn't finish how we want to.

This year, didn't start how we want to but finished the way we wanted to and now we're in the Rose Bowl. Just to be here is an amazing feeling and the experience and we just want to live in all these memories.

When you were 1-3, can you pinpoint a certain time where you guys, it just clicked and you felt you turned it around? I know you had an all- players meeting. Where did the turnaround come from?

I just think we understand how we shouldn't have lost some of the games we lost and it was just us not doing the things that we were capable of doing, not doing simple things or the little things better, and for us trying to understand what those little things were – you can always say, you should have done this and it would have been okay but we probably didn't understand actually what needed to be done.

That meeting had us come together as a team and a family and we bonded and that's what made us go on a eight-game winning streak.

Does it make it being here so much sweeter because of what you went through?

Yeah, we started off 1-3, everybody didn't think we were going to make it to a Bowl game, probably thought we were going to be out of a Bowl game. I know probably a lot of people in here thought the same thing but it's about us being together as a team and we really don't worry about what's going on outside of us, our family, our bubble.

Everybody I guess you could say is back on the bubble and back on the wagon, for both teams, us and Penn State. That's one of the blessings about it. Once we believe in ourselves, it's the best thing we could have

done, and for Penn State, doing what we believe we're capable of and that's what makes it so special.

What makes this team so different from other teams you've played for?

I think us coming together as a family. We preach and talk about family, maybe comfortable or you click with a different group or certain people.

But this team, we can reach out to every different group, the punters, the kickers, different position groups that may be in the field, so us being able to talk and relate and have jokes and share memories and bonds, I think that's what makes us special.

One of the things mentioned yesterday, Penn State, they have a lot of speed; have you noticed that watching film?

I played against some of the receivers in the All-Star Game in high school. So I know what they were capable of. And now to actually finally see them at the big stage and the big lights, it shows that they knew they were going to do well and it paid off. You see that on film, great running backs, great receivers, great quarterback, so that makes them go.

Have you seen anybody that just throws the ball deep and up for grabs the way he does, and depends on his receivers to go up and get it?

I'd probably say, I mean, first game, probably Alabama. That was one of the things that they loved to do. When you saw them last year, they just threw it up, two coverage, triple coverage and he'll go up and get the ball. That was pretty spectacular. Washington throws the ball deep, takes shots. That's how they get like 40 points in the first quarter. You don't just get that by playing conservative. A lot of teams really do throw the ball deep and try to take shots, and it's just about us as a defense, or any defense, just capitalizing on those plays.

Those games against Alabama, Washington, do you think that prepares a lot of the guys for this big Rose Bowl game?

Yeah, we understand what's up front and what's at task. We've seen the Alabama game and we were excited for that game but we didn't play up to expectations.

And then the Washington game, we knew what the expectation was and we knew how to capture all that emotion we had the first game and keep it bottled in so when it was a full 60 minutes, we could display it out there on the field.

I think we are prepared for that type of atmosphere for both teams. They played against Ohio State in a big game and came back against Wisconsin in the Big 10 Championship. They know about it, this is going to be exciting.

Do you get a chance to watch the Big 10 Championship?

I used to watch Michigan, because Jordan Lewis and [Jabrill] Peppers, I used to see them play. They always play them while we were leaving the hotel or while we were getting ready for our game. I didn't see much but I got to see those two guys play.

Do you pay attention to what's going on in the conference, checking scores and stuff like that?

No, I never, I just try to watch the highlights. I mean, I really don't like watching games because it takes too long in my opinion. I just like watching highlights and the good stuff.

When you found out you were paired with Penn State, what did you know about them?

Not much. I just knew that they were on a nice run. They beat Ohio State and it was a great team. I just remember them in the Big 10 Championship game losing to Wisconsin. They came all the way back and rallied. I just kept hearing somebody saying that Wisconsin lost the lead. That's pretty much all I knew about them at that point.

They have a lot of parallels with you guys in terms of starting slowly and finishing strong. Is that an interesting aspect?

I don't think it's interesting aspect. It's just about us clicking and gelling at the right moment. Everything happens for a reason and you just have to be patient and trust the process and I think that's what both teams have done to get here.

How much do you know about this meal tonight?

I don't know anything about it. Yeah, this is the first time I heard of it actually was this week going into the Bowl prep. I mean, I guess you can say it's all-you-can-eat, I don't know what's going on. The linemen were fired up about it. I'm just hungry, ready to eat. I'm not going to eat too much.

Are you going to save up for this?

No, I'm going to eat a little bit before because I'm a little hungry. I'm going to try to take some to-go boxes back if that's cool.

When Stevie [Tu'ikolovatu] showed up on campus, what did you expect out of him?

Honestly, I always heard of Stevie. I was on track, so it's like this guy named Stevie is coming to school so I'm trying to figure out who is Stevie. I never saw him in person. I didn't even look for him in person – I just assumed – I just saw one of those guys walking around, I just assumed that's him.

First time I met him, he had on some flip-flops, a hoodie and his hair is up, so I'm just thinking it's somebody's dad just walking around campus.

Then I saw him talk to Coach and I asked, who is that, and oh, that's Stevie and that's the first time I saw him and I knew how effective he would be because of all the things I've been hearing about him. So my expectations were already high for him and I think he had those same expectations for himself.

First time I saw him was that moment in the locker room right before camp was about to start. I don't think he was clear yet when I came and he finally got cleared and ever since then, the ball been rolling.

People talk about Sam and the offense being the catalyst changing the season but the coaches say it's him; would you agree and what has he done?

For him, just stepping up for the D-Line. I know they are pretty young, two sophomores, Chuma, who didn't really play last year and for him to come as the older guy, the bigger brother, the father figure in that D-line group and get those guys together and understand the hard work and sacrifice to put in to be great. I think he's changed everything from the D- line to linebackers to the secondary and you can follow him, he's been through so much and everything that's been going on with him. Just to come here and really focus on ball and try to get better and help this team meant a lot.

Obviously Penn State is known for throwing the ball downfield and making big plays. What's your defensive back group been like in preparation for a game like this?

Make sure we do the little things better, know when the ball is there. There's no more coaching after that. You've just got to go out there and try to grab the ball and return it to the offensive player.

From that standpoint, just got to make a play and take control of every opportunity and other than that, just focus on the little things and make sure we do everything right to limit and prohibit explosive plays. We know things may happen in the game and it's about letting that go and trying to make an explosive play yourself.

You've always talked about growing up watching Rose Bowl games, and now to be here, have you visualized it?

Yeah, I think about the time they played Illinois, that's where I'm from, and they beat the works off us. By it's just one of those moments where I remember as a kid seeing my home state going against USC at the time and Juice Williams I thought was one of the best quarterbacks ever coming out of Illinois, and Davis and everybody over there, it's still a surreal moment but I just can't wait to get out there and see the paint and everything that's going on with the fans and just soak up all these memories and moments.

Have you had a minute to step back to see where you've came from to now?

We think about it every day we get to practice, because we know we came this far.

We don't want to fail and we don't want to look back too much about the run because we may get complacent that we won eight in a row and we come this far and that's okay. We just want to make sure we keep that in the back of our mind and keep that as a little bit of fuel that we have to keep pushing and keep fighting to better ourselves for the future.

All the attention that you got with all the awards, what's that been like?

It's been cool but it's pretty much credit to all these other guys on the team. I wouldn't have won these awards, I won't have been All- American, I wouldn't have got the Thorpe. It's because of them, like I said, the defense who helped me get the Thorpe, the pass rush, everybody else doing great in their coverage, and then me just happen to come up and get a tackle here or just get a reception.

Special teams-wise, Coach Baxter has put the trust and belief in everybody and those guys following through with his plan. And offensively, you give credit to Sam and everything he's done for us and help us develop and get back on top, I would say and everybody to recognize us. I mean, without those guys, I wouldn't be in that position so it's pretty much all credit to them.

Did you ever play against Koa Farmer?

No, I played against him my senior year in high school and junior year, we beat him, I think junior year – sophomore year he beat us. Senior we beat them over time. That's the last time I played against him.

Do you remember anything about him playing?

He scored a touchdown on us with a minute left. I'll never forget it. I didn't think we would lose the game because I knew we had the ball on the offense. I'm like, well I'm about to score. I score and he almost scored again in overtime, but he was out of bounds, so that was cool.

And I mean, he was just big. He wore these gigantic shoulder pads, for some reason, I have no idea why, he played almost every position out there on the field.

He's just a playmaker, ball hog, and they trusted him at Notre Dame to do the things he's doing and same thing at Penn State. I don't think pretty much nothing's changed about him. Just got better.

When you're watching film on Penn State, can you pinpoint what changes from the first half to the second? They seem to be a really good second half team?

I think they just all click, just like we did. They were having strides and they were doing things correctly, doing things right. Just didn't all click. And once you see everybody on the same page from the O-linemen and everybody else, to the D-line men and everybody else, they all came together.

How long have you had your eye on the Thorpe award?

I remember I said I wanted to win it coming out of high school, so I guess you can say, that's when I had my eye on it.

Knowing that that's the top defensive back, very few and far between who win it, why did you set your goal on that?

It's just a big award, something I wanted to win. I know that it wouldn't be an award that you could forget or take lightly. It will always be next to my name or something in that nature, like Mark Carrier, first one to win it at USC. It's one of those things where you don't forget that, it's a top award. I know USC only had one winner and I wanted to try to be the second one.

Did you think you would win it or was it just something you were striving for?

I thought that I would have won it. Everything that I say I'm going to do, I want to do it, so it's a thought in my head that I will do it and be able to obtain it.

Anything else you want to do you want to share with us?

No, I'm just worried about this game.

What about the game?

Just play my game. I come into games, ask the Lord, pray that I do what I'm capable of doing, take all the nerves and jitters away and just let me go out there and play the ball I'm capable of playing and have fun and play free. That's every game. That's my expectations and my mind-set.

I get the impression you treat every game like a Bowl game; is that true?

I just try to treat every game the same. I know it's a big one for us and for me, myself. I know that it can be the first game of the season or the last game of the season, I'm going to treat it like it's our last game because you never know what may happen. That one loss, if we only lose one game or we kept losing games and we lost three games, for us to do that, turn it around, shows that if you treat every game like it's the last, and we treated these games like it was do-or-die and if we did win, that we would be going to a Bowl game and that's how we viewed it.

With all the accolades you've had this season, how special is it for you to be able to cap it off in the Rose Bowl?

It would be amazing. You've got all the other guys who put in the hard work, I wouldn't say don't get the recognition they deserve.

But I mean, it's been put all on me and the Thorpe and All-American but those guys who have done everything to help me get to where I'm at and then the seniors and the red-shirt seniors and everything they have been through, all the adversity and coaches changes, it would be great to see them off on the right note.

It seems like this whole game week fits your personality, able to go to Disneyland. How much are you enjoying this? Are you able to soak in any of the moments?

Yeah, we started practice like a week after the Championship Game, so we've been able to practice and get in all the work and get familiar with the team so now when it comes to things like, this it's not football, football, football, I need to focus on this, I need to focus on that. Once we're in the football office, it's all football.

When we go, we don't lose that knowledge that we have. We don't lose that stuff that we gain. We can put it behind us and focus on the fun and then when we come back to football, bring it right backup to the table.

Yesterday, Tee [Martin] mentioned specifically with you and JuJu [Smith-Schuster] that you had the opportunity to go anywhere you wanted out of high school, but to work through the sanctions and get back to Rose Bowl, what does that mean for you?

It means a lot. Just goes to show that tough times don't last but tough people do. That goes for our seniors, I mean, they have been through I don't know how much coaching changes, different position coaching changes. They have probably seen sanctions, not being able to go to a Bowl game or whatever it may be. And now to be in this position and finish it off with the granddaddy of them all in the Rose Bowl, just goes to show, stay patient and trust in the process and he believe everything that's going on in front of you, and once you believe, anything's possible.

Do you have a lot of people coming out?

No, we only get six tickets. So not too many people coming out. Just six people.

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Keely Eure is a broadcast journalism student at the Annenberg School at USC. You can follow her on Twitter at @keelyismyname.


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