EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Adoree' Jackson has yet to be assigned a locker, but he is already at home in the Giants' locker room.
Jackson, a talented and speedy cornerback, joined the Giants yesterday, less than a week after he was released by the Tennessee Titans. But unlike many players who change addresses, he need not be apprehensive about how he'll be accepted by his new teammates, because he's already close to some of them.
Cornerback Darnay Holmes was a fellow high school star in Southern California who reached out to Jackson last week. One defensive tackle, Leonard Williams, was his teammate for one season at USC, while another, Austin Johnson, played with him for three seasons in Tennessee. So did safety Logan Ryan, the first person to reach out to Jackson when he was cut. Ryan traveled from his Florida home to the metropolitan area to share a dinner with Jackson and help entice him to join the Giants. The other starting safety, Jabrill Peppers, did so over the phone.
"It meant a lot really to just have people reach out and be able to pick their brains and see what they're like, about the team and what they dislike maybe, but everybody spoke highly of it," Jackson said today on his introductory Zoom call. "It was just great to have people want me to come here. Probably getting recruited, some kids in college they probably shied away from that and didn't really want to recruit, but these guys were on it. I know (Peppers) hit me up and so it was one of those things where it just felt good."
That familiarity will make his transition easier when the team gathers for the first time, whether it's in the spring or training camp, in person or virtually.
"Being able to know a lot of people, it just makes you more comfortable and it's easier to hold each other accountable because you won't be shy to hurt somebody's feelings. They know how you act, you know how they act, you're just able to be cohesive and not bump heads when you're out there. So being able to just learn, pick peoples' brains and just compete. And that's the fun thing knowing Pep, I like (safety Xavier) McKinney's game, I love Darnay, (cornerback James) Bradberry, so it's just going to be a bunch of competition out there amongst us out there on the back end. I'm just excited about that, to be able to know some guys, just feel like I'm not coming into new faces and got to introduce myself – some people I do – but it's just going to be a more comfortable feeling."
Jackson is preparing for his fifth NFL season, Holmes his second. But the two young corners are very familiar with each other.
"He's from the Pasadena area, so I've seen him play," Jackson said. "I've played with one of his big homies. We just kept on seeing more and he always talked highly of him, so we went to go see him play. I was proud to see his success even though he went across town to UCLA to play. Always kept an eye on him and seen the things that he's done. He's been tremendous coming out, so I was excited. When he texted me, I didn't have the number saved, but I knew who it was – I'd seen the area code and I'm like, 'This has got to be Darnay,' so we were just chopping it up. He's a cool dude, a down-to-earth dude and you need people like that in your life."
Jackson starred at Serra High School in Gardena, Calif., while Holmes played his final two prep seasons leading Calabasas High to the school's first back-to-back section titles. The standout defenders attended a Nike camp together in Oregon.
"I always heard a lot about him," Jackson said. "I played both ways in high school and they kept saying like, 'This Darnay kid is the truth,' so I actually went to go see him play and I was like, he's like that."
Jackson made a point to help and advise the younger player.
"It was just me wishing that I had that person in my ear just to be able to talk to, just to be around and just to show him the ropes, whatever it may be, if he had any questions because I didn't really have that when I was coming out and I just always wanted to be that for somebody else," Jackson said. "And for him just to be as humble as he is, as nice as he is and genuine to accept everything that I was trying to teach him and give him. He was a cool kid and down to earth, and that's how our relationship actually started, just from hearing about him, then I went to go watch him play, I actually typed his highlights up on YouTube and saw him and I was like, 'Yo, he's the truth.' It was just me trying to help him any way I could. He was going to be great regardless, but I was trying to help him."
Ryan, 30, played the same role for Jackson, first when they were together in the Titans' secondary and again last week, when Jackson surprisingly found himself looking for a new team.
"I know Logan, he's going to shoot it to you straight no matter what," Jackson said. "He won't sugarcoat anything, so the deal was just chop it up with him and talk to him about what he likes and he said it's a first-class organization. Logan's been a lot of places and for him to speak so highly, and just him keeping his word. I trust him, he'll tell me one thing on the field, I'm going to listen to him and trust him because I know he's not going to put me in a situation to fail. So, that was the same thing we were talking about when we were eating dinner. I know that if he's going to say something, he's not going to try to me in a situation that will hinder me or hurt me. He just wants the best for me, so that's how those conversations were going between us."
Jackson is also happy to rejoin another former Trojan star in Williams, who last week re-signed with the Giants.
"With Leonard, I played with him one year at USC," Jackson said. "He was a beast dominating out there on the end playing in the trenches. Our relationship is we're cordial, like we might text back and forth, shoot a message here on DM's. But he's just a good guy just by knowing him my freshman year and being able to see how he performed and how he competed and how he carried himself."
In part because of his familiarity with some of his new teammates, Jackson believes he has found the perfect landing spot to continue his career.
"Just talking to PG (defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, defensive backs coach) coach (Jerome) Henderson (the defensive] – and I talked to Rome and he said he had Darrelle Revis his first two years and just seeing how he developed. Talking to Bradberry, talking to Logan and they spoke highly of him and so that's what I think that I was looking for. Coach Rome played the game and he was telling me about the ins and outs and everything about him playing and what he expects and what he's looking for. I accepted that as a challenge to come prove myself and compete."
The Giants – and all of his friends old and new – are happy he did.