The path from American Family Insurance ALL-USA high school football player to freshman All-American isn’t easy.
Every team in the Football Bowl Subdivision relied on freshmen in one way or another, but only two members of last year’s ALL-USA team were selected to USA TODAY Sports’ All-Freshman team released Tuesday. Given that many ALL-USA selections went to elite programs, playing time might have been limited or injuries or a redshirt year might have affected opportunities.
The ALL-USA stars of 2013 will have more chances to shine, but here are two who were in position to make an immediate impact:
Adoree’ Jackson, a cornerback at Southern California, was named first-team ALL-USA last season at Serra High School in Gardena, Calif.
Despite having no interceptions, Jackson was named the Pac-12 defensive freshman of the year and has rarely been tested, especially in the red zone, as the season has gone on. He was a reserve in the first four games and started every game since.
“He made a lot of plays late in the season down the field — knocking a ball down, tipping it away,” USC defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox told the Los Angeles Times. “And I think those are going to turn into interceptions.”
Here was Jackson’s interview with 247 Sports on National Signing Day last February.
Another defensive back with an ALL-USA pedigree to make the All-Freshman team is safety Quin Blanding at the University of Virginia. Blanding was a second-team ALL-USA selection last fall as a senior at Bayside High School in Virginia Beach.
Blanding was one of 10 true freshman to start at least one game for the Cavaliers and was named ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year, ACC Coaches Defensive Rookie of the Year and to the All-ACC second team. He was second in the ACC and 12th nationally with 123 tackles.
According to UVA, he was the first true freshman at the school to start a season opener at one of the two safety positions since Tony Blount did so at Washington on Sept. 11, 1976.