Lamar Jackson. End of article. Even a college football novice knows this guy’s name and why this could easily be the shortest sports article in history. For those who have no idea who he is, allow me to introduce him. He is a sophomore quarterback for the Louisville Cardinals. He is also the front-runner to win the Heisman Trophy. This award is given to the best athlete in college football at the end of the regular season. That is why he will be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week. The cover will feature Jackson running away from a Florida State Seminole defender. The headline is, “WHAT. JUST. HAPPENED?” and under that, “Lamar Jackson arrived, THAT’S WHAT.” He is the first football player to be on the cover from Louisville. He has literally and figuratively burst on the scene this season.
Last season as a freshman he played in 12 games, while starting eight of them. He completed 135 of 247 passes for 1,840 yards with 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He rushed for 11 touchdowns for 960 yards. In last year’s bowl game he passed for two touchdowns for 227 yards and rushed for a game record 226 yards and two touchdowns. It was clear to see why he was named the game’s MVP. Jackson has led his team to a 3-0 start this season. He has thrown for eight touchdowns and 913 yards. He has rushed for 10 touchdowns for 464 yards. Let me do the quick math on that, that’s 18 touchdowns in 3 games! That is more touchdowns than 114 Division I schools so far. By the way, he has only played in nine of twelve quarters. This is due to his team’s insurmountable leads during the game. Now you can understand how he has become the overnight sensation of college football. In his very first game he scored eight touchdowns in the first half. That was not a typo. He completed 17 of 23 passes for 286 yards with six touchdowns. He rushed for two touchdowns for 119 yards. Granted it was verse Charlotte, but still, this was in only one half. In his second game verse Syracuse, he passed for 411 yards and one touchdown. He rushed for 199 yards and four touchdowns. This wasn’t a quality opponent, but the numbers he posted in three quarters are what most players post in two games. Finally, the test would come last weekend verse the Seminoles. Surely the number two ranked team in the nation would give Jackson a tough time. Nope! Before the Seminoles could blink, he had thrown for 216 yards, ran for 146 yards and scored five touchdowns. He didn’t even play the majority of the fourth quarter. Fellow teammate and corner back Jaire Alexander said, “I can’t tell you how many times I see guys in position to tackle him and then suddenly they’re on the ground, and Lamar is running.” It’s not only his teammates that are giving him high praises. Michael Vick tweeted, “Lamar Jackson 5x better than what I was at V-Tech….Enough said!! #future.” Even before the tweet, many were making the comparisons to Vick, because both can run and pass with ease. Some have compared Jackson to Vince Young, former quarterback for the Texas Longhorn. Robert Griffin III, former quarterback for the Baylor Bears has even been mentioned in the comparisons. No matter who you choose to compare him to, it is truly something special he is doing right now.
The choice of words is definitely, right now. There is still a lot of football to be played. Geno Smith was the quarterback for the West Virginia Mountaineers a few years ago. He started off to a great start in his first five games. Defenses and harder competition began to take its toll the remainder of the season. He finished with decent numbers but was no longer in the Heisman discussion. The Cardinals still have an upcoming game with the fifth ranked Clemson Tigers on October 1st. Then there is the November 17th match up verse the sixth ranked Houston Cougars. Both teams will provide a true test for Jackson. Brief history has shown that he seems up for the challenge, but only time will tell. If the voting for the Heisman were to take place today it would be:
- Lamar Jackson
- The QB of Louisville
- #8 for Louisville