Drake Jackson's Path To Nation Recognition

Photo: John McGillen/ USC Athletics

From the very beginning, Drake Jackson always knew that he would someday become a Trojan. This idea may seem unusual to some, but for the Jackson, he had already planned his future long before he was old enough to walk.

Fast forward to the spring of 2019. Jackson's childhood dream comes true as he enrolls at USC. Yet for Jackson, there was more to this dream than just being a part of it, he wanted to excel in it. Last season, the 6'4 defensive end out of Centennial High introduced himself as one of nation's top true freshmen players at any position.

Despite an ankle injury that resulted in him missing games against Colorado and Oregon, Jackson proved to be the type of pass rusher than opposing linemen had few answers to stop.Against Brigham Young in week three, he registered 1.5 sacks along with 1.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble.In their week six loss to the 14th ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish, he led his squad with 2.5 tackles for loss. By the end of the season, Jackson finished with 46 total tackles, which included a team-best 11.5 tackles for loss, and five quarterback sacks.

In addition to Jackson, the Trojans had other true freshmen make significant contributions last season. Quarterback Kedon Slovis, noted by many as college football's next big star, broke the school's freshman record in passing yards with 3,502 in 12 games. Cornerback Chris Steele was a top-ranked defender, playing in 12 games and starting in 6 of them.

Once carrying a stocky 275 pound frame, Jackson has shed his weight down this offseason to 255. Heading into the season under Trojan's defensive coordinator Todd Orlando, the Trojan's defense is set to transition to a 3-3-5 scheme. Under this new scheme, Jackson is expected to play as an outside linebacker or defensive end.

For this lifelong Trojan, his path to success is clearer than it has ever been. Whichever position he undertakes, he is on the right path to attracting attention from several NFL teams, if he has not done so already. Jackson's success can only translate to greater things ahead for USC, as they look to recapture the type of success that has eluded them for far too long.

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