If one were to sift through press clippings and media spots surrounding Louisville Football this season, the results would be rather consistent. Lamar, Lamar, Lamar, Bobby Petrino 2.0, Lamar, Lamar's mother, Bobby Petrino, and of course Lamar. No one is nor should be complaining because Louisville has never received this kind of relentless positive press. Fortunately for the Cardinals, Lamarvelous's exploits have paved the way for his teammates to join him in the spotlight and Jackson is more than happy making room for others.
Number eight is delivering a season unlike any ever witnessed in Cardinal history. Louisville's five remaining games are all about keeping Jackson healthy while praying for continued chaos. However, if you removed Lamar from the equation, we may be talking repeatedly about Jaire Alexander as the best player on the roster. Jaire has been Mr. Everything in 2016 for Louisville. He's a shutdown corner, an electrifying punt returner, a turnover maker, and perhaps one of two players on the team that could beat Action Jackson in a foot race. Without Alexander, Louisville isn't in the playoff picture.
Coach Petrino's emphasis has always been on recruiting speed. Following spring practice it was clear Bobby was beginning to stock the cupboard. Cornelius Sturghill's 4.20 40 yard dash was a team best, but on his heels with a 4.33 time is Louisville's second fastest athlete, Alexander. Jaire's potential was evident in 2015; in 2016 he has blossomed into a potential All-American and Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist. The Cardinals have not faced daunting competition in every matchup, yet, against Clemson and Florida State Alexander was the best defensive back/utility athlete on the field. How was this possible? You won't find your answer on scout.com, rivals.com, or 247sports.com.
Recruiting services should go ahead and add a millionth notch to their misfire belt due to Jaire Alexander. Number 10 for the Cardinals was only offered by one other power five team, South Carolina, was rated the 932nd best player in the class of 2015, and the 32nd best player in the state of North Carolina. Those same scouts also boasted that 400 players were better than Lamar Jackson. After being in Louisville for just 15 months, Lamar is already the best player in all of football and Alexander has outplayed every blue chip recruit at Clemson and Florida State.
The list of overlooked and discounted studs goes on and on for Louisville. Jaylen Smith was pegged as the 131st best receiver in 2015 and now he dominates the secondary with speed and strength. Jonathan Greenard was told 130 athletes were better than him in the state of Georgia alone. 117 junior college hopefuls were supposedly better options than Drew Bailey. Lamar Atkins was a two star recruit out of Florida, 53 linebackers were rated higher than Keith Kelsey in 2013, Seth Dawkins is Louisville's next Devante Parker, yet, 530 recruits should be better than the true freshman, and the Cardinals next NFL tight end, Cole Hikutini, was ranked as the 154th best junior college prospect in 2015.
As fans, we appreciate the hard work and efforts of the army of internet scouts, but forgive me for putting my faith in the coaching staff. After just three recruiting classes, Coach Petrino and his staff have a concocted a national championship caliber team led by a 19 year old superstar who will win the Heisman Trophy. Louisville has not signed a top 30 class in the last four seasons, yet, here they sit as arguably the second best team in football. How is it possible?
Lamar Jackson has seized control of the national spotlight, as well as the all-powerful social media mafia. He is a superstar athlete and a viral legend in the making. The millions of eyes and cameras turned towards Jackson have allowed the stellar play of his compatriots to be captured and appreciated. The spotlight, the awards, and the highlight reels will only make recruiting that much more successful.
Louisville Football may be a one man band to envious outsiders, but Bobby and Lamar are perfectly content having the entire roster join them on stage. 2016 isn't just a flash in the pan. Coach Petrino is always making room for the next household name...get on the train.
All Hail UofL !!