May 7, 2008

Jackson's focused on academics

There aren't a lot of things that can get in Malik Jackson's way on the football field.

Jackson, a 6-foot-5 defensive end from Birmingham High School in Van Nuys, made California quarterbacks pay for dropping back in the pocket.

At times, he's been unblockable.

But the Trojan signee now has a metaphorical block to shed; he's got to make his grades to qualify.

"I'm really concentrating on getting my classes together," Jackson said. "That's what's on my mind when I go up to watch practice or to walk around campus.

"There's so much motivation to work hard."

Jackson said he's spending most of his time on trigonometry and an Internet class while he waits for his SAT results.

"I've been doing everything I can to play," he said. "I'm doing better now."

Jackson said he's confident he will qualify.

Originally committed to Fresno State, Jackson waited for the USC staff to give an offer. While his academics were a hang up, the four-star prospect impressed the Trojan staff, giving them confidence he could qualify.

"I got the offer because the coaches liked my character. They knew my grades were kind of bad, but he felt after he got done talking to me that I could do it. I could turn it around, and that's how I got the offer.

"I was excited."

By becoming a Trojan, Jackson gets to test his skills at the highest level. But, it also means he won't be playing with his twin brother, three-star Marquis Jackson.

Both players were planning on suiting up for Fresno State.

"The plan was to go (to Fresno State) together - until USC offered," Malik Jackson said. "We got to the point where we knew maybe only one of us would make it, and we can't be upset. Before it really happened, we were prepared, and he's been cool with it."

Jackson's size (6-foot-5, 240 pounds) and speed make him tough to block - and thus, a productive pass rusher.

"It's my handwork and my footwork," he said. "Using quick hands and quick feet, I can get off the line and off blocks fast. I've been coached well too.

"I just get the quarterback in my sights and go."

And there's little doubt that Jackson can't wait to do that in a Trojan uniform. It's a thought, though, he's little time to indulge.

"I'm trying not to think about it right now because I just get all excited," he said. "I have to take care of some other things first."

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