USC's Jackson wants to shadow Alabama's Ridley in opener

Adoree' Jackson doesn't just want the chance to cover Calvin Ridley on occasion when USC opens the 2016 season against Alabama in Arlington, Texas, on Sept. 3.

First Look:
NFL Media analyst and former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah takes a "first look" at college football's top players for 2016.

The Trojans cornerback wants to follow the defending national champions' top wide receiver wherever he goes on the field that day.

"Yes sir, I do (want to follow Ridley). You've seen what (Lane Kiffin) did with Marqise Lee. (Kiffin) had him (when Lee) won the Biletnikoff (Award), had him everywhere on the field," Jackson told the Pac-12 Network during the league's media days on Thursday. "I guess me following him, would bump me into a (higher) candidacy for the Thorpe Award or any other award that's up. If I followed him, that would look great on me. It's going to show that I'm hungry, I'm ready to go for the season. I just want to set a statement for everyone for the season going (forward) that I'm not scared, I'm not backing down from anybody, and I'm just ready to go."

Lee won the Bilenikoff Award (top college WR) at USC in 2012, when Kiffin was the Trojans' head coach, before going on to become a second-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2014. Kiffin, of course, now serves as Alabama's offensive coordinator. Jackson was selected last week as a member of the watch list for the Thorpe Award, which goes to CFB's top defensive back.

As a true freshman last year, Ridley filled a big void for the Tide that was left by 2015 Oakland Raiders first-round draft pick Amari Cooper, catching 89 passes for 1,045 yards and seven touchdowns. As a junior, Jackson has one more year of college experience than Ridley. Both players possess outstanding speed and explosiveness, something Jackson can also display as a return specialist and part-time receiver. Jackson could be eligible for the NFL draft in 2017 or 2018, depending on whether he applies for early eligibility after the 2016 season.

NFL Media analyst Lance Zierlein rated Ridley last month as the No. 1 receiver to watch in college football and likened him to a faster version of Cooper. Zierlein selected Jackson the No. 8 DB to watch.

The USC-Alabama game will provide several intriguing head-to-head matchups, including USC offensive tackle Zach Banner against Alabama's pass-rushing duo of Jonathan Allen and Tim Williams, as well as USC receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster against UA cornerback Marlon Humphrey.

If Jackson is assigned to shadow Ridley all over the field, that could be one of the most exciting matchups we'll see all season.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.