Johnny Brackins Aims To Boost USC's Jumps Contingent

When Johnny Brackins signed with the University of Southern California this month, what he saw was a strong potential with the Trojans jumps contingent and with the men's program that had been a traditional sprints powerhouse.

He pointed specifically to a hire the team made in 2019: Assistant jumps and multis coach Nick Newman.

The former England international, a 25-foot-plus jumper, also happened to be the Trojans' recruiting coordinator. 

"Everyone knows them for their successes in the sprints and hurdles," Brackins said. "But I took it as an opportunity to build within the jumps program." 

In some ways, it was a small leap of faith for Brackins to make, especially when the Trojans didn't have a single men's jumps athlete qualify for the 2019 NCAA Track and Field Outdoor Championships.

But perhaps his ability goes beyond the board, too. 

Brackins holds outdoor sprint times of 10.94 and 21.94 in the 100m and 200m, respectively, and a 110mH best of 14.20. That versatility ultimately might give him an opportunity on the track at some point over his career, too. 

But mostly, his success will be defined in the air.

And as the new year approaches, Brackins is on the doorstep of a major breakthrough in the horizontal jumps.

As a sophomore, he posted a career outdoor long jump mark of 25 feet, 1.5 inches and hit 48-10.5 in the triple jump. He ended the year as the fifth-best combined horizontal athlete -- and the top sophomore overall. 

Up Next: 

Brackins will compete at the North Texas Jumps Showcase on Dec. 18 in Haslet. The event will be streamed LIVE on MileSplit. 


The long-term mission then, Brackins said, is for the Trojans to build upon that early development and help him grow into a potential NCAA Championship contender. 

There's reason to believe the program can, especially with the addition of Newman, a former jumps coach at Cal, Berkeley.

"Knowing Nick, where he's coached, what he's achieved, that helped in my decision," Brackins said.

USC has shown growth in its jumps program over the last five seasons, too, developing graduate Eric Sloan into a 25-9 and 55-6 athlete. Redshirt sophomore Jalyn Jackson, a transfer, also posted a 52-4 leap in January of this year in the triple jump. Former athlete Adoree Jackson, now in the NFL, also saw success in the horizontal jumps.

But what really stood out the most for Brackins over the entire process was USC's transparency and faith in his ability, from start to finish. 

"The determination of the coaches stood out," he said. "USC told me everything, kept me updated. They expressed their interest to a higher extent." 

Brackins also considered Kansas -- his father's alma mater -- Arkansas and LSU. 

Right now, the Missouri teenager, who stands at 6-foot-4 and 162 pounds, is focusing on building strength and improving the technical aspects of his jumps, both on the runway and in the air. 

In recent months, Brackins' family build a pop-up weight room in the garage, complete with an area for cleans and deadlifts. Brackins has focused that time on building core strength, mobility and control. 

"I feel like I can get stronger," he said. "My strength can get a lot higher and it can aid in a lot of things like the triple jump." 

A big year could be ahead for him.

His only outdoor meet this past year was in July, when he posted a mark of 23-9.5 in the long jump at the Pony Express Track Classic in St. Joseph. He also ran 14.94 in the 110mH.

Brackins is getting ahead of the action this time around, though. 

This weekend, he's headed to Texas to compete alongside Texas signee Solomon Washington at the North Texas Jumps Showcase in Haslet. 

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