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Breakout candidates: No. 9 – Adrian Jackson

Joel Gunderson08/27/21
Article written by:On3 imageJoel Gunderson
William Mancebo/Getty Images

Is this the time? I mean, sincerely, is this the time we see the full Adrian Jackson? The jacked-up, full-speed, man-eating, quarterback-destroying Jackson?

We won’t know for a while. But – and knock on ALL the wood – the stars appear to be aligning for the first time since 2018 for the former 4-star recruit as he enters his fourth season in Eugene.

Perhaps no Oregon player draws more comments along the lines of, “Wow, if he could just put it all together” Everyone agrees on his clear-cut potential, tempered with inconsistent play, injuries and more.

Again, if he could just. …

“A learning process,” Jackson said Wednesday when asked about the struggles he’s faced since his promising rookie season. “2019 and 2020 — everybody knows it was a hard season for me. But as I’m coming back.

“I feel like those seasons were made for this moment. I feel like those seasons are the ones that are gonna make or break me.

“They got me ready for this moment.”

It will be quite the boon for Oregon if Jackson is indeed ready. While he is clearly behind Mase Funa on the organizational chart, Jackson is more explosive than his much-larger teammate.

However, explosions only work within in the framework of the play. And too often, Jackson has focused on making the kill rather than reading the correct play.

“For me, becoming the every-down player, I have to get more physical on the edge, which I’ve been showing,” he said. “I’ve gotta be more consistent.”

During spring ball, when asked about Jackson, head coach Mario Cristobal was effusive in his praise.

“Adrian Jackson has shown a tremendous amount of improvement,” he said. “The big part is that he’s healthy. He’s focused on taking that next step as a player. He’s had his bumps along the way, but it’s time now to do it.

“(We’re) doing our 7-on-7 run work, and it’s physically demanding. Tackles and tight ends are launching some double-team blocks on those players, and he did a nice job of setting the edge.”

Setting the edges. Staying in his lane. Remaining healthy. Every rep. Every practice. Every film session.

For Jackson, stringing together those positive actions is the key to moving from explosive to indispensable. He’s aware of the potential he brings and the difference he can make on a unit looking to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2014-15.

“I try to bring something different that nobody has seen at this position yet,” Jackson said, “and that’s what I’m trying to show this year.”

If he could just. …