Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson has drawn comparisons to Michael Vick and other great running quarterbacks in his short career, and once again showcased his fleet feet on Saturday against N.C. State, burning the Wolfpack for a 68-yard touchdown run.
But it's not just quarterbacks (and safeties) that Jackson is outpacing: As Steve Jones of the Courier-Journal notes, Jackson leads all freshmen nationally in rushing, even the running backs.
Through five games, per cfbstats.com, Jackson is No. 43 nationally in rushing yards, having tallied 435 yards on his 66 carries. That makes him one of just two freshmen nationally — Pittsburgh's Qadree Ollison, who has 427 yards on the season, is the other — to rank among the nation's top 50 rushers. (To Ollison's credit, he does outrank Jackson in yards per game, having only played four games to Jackson's five.)
And yet: Ollison, who has filled in admirably for injured Panthers star James Conner, is a running back. So are all but one of the other freshmen currently within the top 100 rushers nationally — the other freshman QB squeaking into that range is Texas QB Jerrod Heard, whom Charlie Strong did not make a starter until the Longhorns' third game. Jackson is doing more on the ground than most running backs, and more efficiently (he's No. 52 nationally in yards per carry), despite not being used primarily as a runner.
Of course, Jackson wasn't really Louisville's starter over the first three weeks of the season, either, and has only thrown 97 of the Cardinals' 168 pass attempts in 2015. One wonders how many rushing yards he might have if Bobby Petrino had committed to maximizing his unique skill set and not carried a quarterback rotation into the season.
Oh, and as for that Vick comparison? He ran for 682 yards and nine touchdowns as a freshman at Virginia Tech in 1999 — but he had the luxury of redshirting in 1998.
Jackson, obviously, is a true freshman — and he's on pace to compile 1,032 rushing yards and nine touchdowns by the end of the regular season.