While I realize that this article is going to piss off the majority of fans, there’s not much I can do about it while saying the following: Adoree’ Jackson simply has not done enough in 2016 to earn the Heisman Trophy. It’s not because he isn’t an amazing talent, he is. It’s not because he wasn’t good enough on defense, he was Defensive Player of the Year in the Pac-12. It’s simply because USC spent their entire season billing Adoree’s Heisman hopes on Charles Woodson’s past success.
The thing with Woodson is that he had a knack for producing during the most tense moments of the Michigan season. Running down the most important games of Woodson’s season, and Jackson simply does not compare, primarily because Woodson was directly responsible for Michigan’s undefeated and National Championship season, whereas Jackson and the Trojans finished 9-3 and are likely headed to the Alamo Bowl, Rose Bowl (as an at-large), or the Holiday Bowl.
Whether it was the interception against the No. 14 Michigan State Spartans along the sidelines, one of two in the game, or his performance against Ohio State on both sides of the ball, the Buckeyes were ranked No. 4 at the time. There was also the small matter of Woodson’s interceptions in the in the Rose Bowl against the No. 7 ranked Washington State Cougars, securing their national title in a 21-16 win, Woodson transcended the game every time he played.
Thanks to the USC media guide, we know that Woodson finished his Junior year with some extremely impressive numbers. Let’s take a look at them. Then let’s take a look at the numbers that Adoree’ Jackson put up in 2016.
Woodson had 44 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 9 passes deflected, 8 interceptions, and that was just on defense. On offense, Woodson had 12 receptions for 238 yards (19.8 avg), and 2 touchdowns (both touchdowns were critical and came in hugely important games). As a special teams player, Woodson had 36 punts returned for 301 yards (8.4 avg), and 1 touchdown. That’s one hell of a season by any stretch of the imagination.
Adoree does compare favorably when it comes to tackles. Jackson had 42 on the season, 9 assisted, and 2 tackles for loss, and ll passes broken up. He also had one fumble return for 26 yards. When it comes to this portion of the comparison, Jackson comes up huge. Moving on, Jackson had 4 interceptions that were returned for a total of zero yards.
On offense, Jackson was persona-non-grata until the UCLA game. He didn’t catch a single pass all season until he hauled in a 52-yard reception against a UCLA team that finished 4-8. He also had 5 rushing attempts for 49 yards (9.8 avg).
It’s only until you get into to the meat of Jackson’s season special teams play that you begin to see the real comparisons to Charles Woodson. Whereas Woodson managed 301 return yards on 36 punt returns, Jackson ran up 302 return yards on just 19 returns, two of those going for touchdowns, both of them in a rivalry game that had no impact on USC’s season beyond pride.
His kickoff returns were something to behold, as well. He returned 22 kicks for 671 yards, two touchdowns, and an average of 30.5 yards every time he brought it out off the kickoff. These are the type of numbers that put Jackson in the conversation in the first place.
What ultimately, for me, makes the difference between these two players is not how they impacted the game, but when they impacted the game. People see Charles Woodson’s season and Adoree Jackson’s season and they somewhat similar numbers, what younger minds often forget was Woodson’s penchant for coming up with what Michigan needed at exactly the time they needed it. He didn’t just put up numbers, he did so when they were needed most.
Jackson is a phenomenal talent and he recently made a major hint at returning for his senior season, citing the fact that he loves USC and kinda always saw himself staying four years. If Adoree’ comes back, there is no earthly reason he can’t replicate these stats and improve upon them.
USC’s reluctance to use Jackson on offense is really where Woodson and Jackson differ. It was those key moments that made the difference in the minds of the voters. Those same key moments that can’t really be found outside of Jackson’s two interception game at No. 4 Washington, no small feat in itself.
It really all comes down to this: Jackson had a hand in a single important USC victory, whereas Woodson had a hand in more than three games, several of them coming against a highly hated rival, and one of them coming in a National Title game. Oh, and Michigan had the toughest schedule of any team in the nation the year that Woodson won his Heisman. Just saying’.
Note: Heisman voting was completed before Woodson played Washington State in the Rose Bowl.