DeSean Blazing Trail Toward Heisman?
Punt returning dynamo one of top receivers in game this season
July 30, 2007
By Chris Huston
Special to CSTV.com from HeismanPundit.com
The Heisman Pundit breaks down the top players for CSTV.com.
You might say that DeSean Jackson prefers to take the road less traveled.
As the No. 1 prep receiver in the nation in the recruiting class of 2005, many naturally assumed he would sign with USC. That's where all the top SoCal talent goes, right? And, after all, his high school, Long Beach Poly, had a long tradition of players who have gone on to play for the Trojans.
He hasn't looked back since.
Now, the 6-foot, 172-pound dynamo is blazing his own trail as the most exciting player in college football. With two strong seasons under his belt, he is primed for an all-purpose run at the Heisman Trophy. He enters the season at No. 8 on the HP Preseason List.
"Being considered for the Heisman is a big honor for me," said Jackson, who caught 59 passes for 1,060 yards and nine touchdowns last year while accumulating 1,572 all-purpose yards. "Me and my teammates have been working hard all off-season and I'm very proud to be considered. I couldn't do it without my teammates, though."
Such modesty will serve him well in the race, but one can be forgiven if sometimes the perception is that
"I really just try not to think too much when I'm back there," said Jackson, who has returned five of the 26 punts he has fielded for scores. "I just react. To be put back there on the spot like that is something I love to do."
In the process, his play brings back memories of some of the great all-purpose players in college history. It's no wonder, as he's been trying his best to emulate them.
"Since I was a youngster, I've looked up to Desmond Howard," said
They've been watching him, too.
"I met Warrick, he's a good dude and down to earth," said
So, what does he have to do to get to the level of a Warrick or a Howard?
"I've got to work on my physical strength," said
It helps that
"My brothers and my dad knew pretty early that I had talent," said
It has paid off well. He enters the season as everyone's All-American and has a chance to really make some noise in the Heisman race. Naturally, he'd have to keep on returning punts for touchdowns (he's only three away from the NCAA record of eight in a career) and another 1,000-yard receiving season is a must as well. But
"Everyone always dreams of the Heisman growing up," said
And then the accolades will come.
Maybe even a trip to