USC’s Adoree’ Jackson wins the Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back

Adoree’ Jackson, John Chereson
USC defensive back Adoree’ Jackson (2) jumps over Notre Dame kicker John Chereson as he returns a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown during the second half on Nov. 26.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

After a recent USC practice, cornerback Adoree’ Jackson said he still had three goals he wanted to accomplish as an amateur athlete: win the Jim Thorpe Award, win the Heisman Trophy and win a national championship. Jackson can check one off the list.

Jackson won the Thorpe Award, given to the top defensive back in the nation, Thursday evening. He was chosen ahead of Louisiana State’s Tre’Davious White and Michigan’s Jourdan Lewis. It was a good half hour for Jackson, who moments earlier had been named to the Walter Camp All-America first team.

After the announcement, Jackson told ESPN’s Chris Fowler that he was honored, “just knowing all the other great guys that were here.”

Jackson is the second USC defensive back to win the award. Mark Carrier won it in 1989.


Jackson finished the regular season with four interceptions, 11 pass deflections and two fumble recoveries, all team highs. He also recorded 51 tackles.

His all-around game may have buoyed his candidacy. He returned two kicks and two punts for touchdowns this season, tying him for the national lead in overall return touchdowns.

Jackson is USC’s all-time leader in kickoff return yardage, at 2,045 yards, and is tied for the all-time USC punt return touchdown record, with four.

Here are the other award winners:


Walter Camp National Player of the Year — Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville 

Maxwell Award (best all-around player) — Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville 

Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award — Deshaun Watson, Clemson 

Doak Walker Award (outstanding running back) — D’Onte Foreman, Texas 

Fred Biletnikoff Award (outstanding receiver) — Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma 

Chuck Bedarnik Trophy (best defensive player) — Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama 

Outland Trophy (outstanding collegiate interior lineman) — Cam Robinson, OL, Alabama 

Jim Thorpe Award (best defensive back) — Adoree’ Jackson, Southern California 


Lou Groza Award (outstanding place-kicker) — Zane Gonzalez, Arizona State 

Ray Guy Award (best punter) — Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah 

Sports Spirit Award — James Conner, Pittsburgh 

Coach of the Year — Mike MacIntyre, Colorado 

NCFAA Contribution to College Football Award — Steve Spurrier