#8 Lamar Jackson
Hometown: Pompano Beach, FL
Thoughts: I remember it like it was yesterday. I sat down last season to type the post for Lamar and just couldn't get the worrisome thought out of my head that we were hyping this young man up to a level where he had no other choice but to not meet the expectations being set. So, I used this platform to issue a warning that Lamar was in fact, human...
This is where I start to take a parallel path to probably the overwhelming majority of the fanbase. Before you get pitchforks and torches, it’s just a small detour, but a detour none the less. Do I think Lamar will have a great 2016 season? Absolutely. Do I think he’s learned enough over the last few months to guide this team to nine or ten wins? No doubt in my mind. Does Petrino’s sly grin when he talks about Lamar’s development give me a small tingle in my trousers? I’ll keep that one to myself. The issue for me is that the percentage of the fanbase who are actually questioning Lamar’s meteoric rise in the last few months is near minuscule, at best. Almost as if it’s a given he’ll throw for over 3,500 yards and rush for over another 1,000 (i.e. Manziel reincarnate). Let us not forget that Lamar wasn’t even our starting quarterback TWO games ago. I know he’s better than last season, I can see it, I read about it, I listen to Petrino talk about it, but he’s also just a Sophomore still learning the offense, and still learning to become a threat with his arm on the collegiate level. As much as I love to lead the charge for each and every player on this team I do get nervous when we build a pedestal so high for Lamar that there is very little distance for us to elevate his status, but a significant distance for him to fall if things don’t go as planned.
I was wrong. He's not human. He's one of the most freak athletes I've ever had the pleasure of watching, and one of the most humble winners I've ever had the opportunity to observe. The Lamar hype last season, to put it bluntly, was real. Maybe I missed the boat, maybe there was something there in the offseason I didn't see, but I'd be willing to bet that if we hook the casual fan up to a lie detector there is no way anyone could have predicted what he was about to do to the college football universe. One game into the year he set a president that was nearly impossible to live up to...and then he did. No, he didn't produce another 8 touchdowns the second week, just 5, and over 600 yards of offense (and a leap heard around the world), and then followed it up with another 5 TDs in the dismantling of #2 FSU. Then, when the ceiling for what he could do had been crushed, a week later he went into a tough Marshall atmosphere and toasted them with 7 touchdowns and almost another 500 yards worth of offense. Week, after week, after week, he made plays that kept his name in the spotlight and kept the team battling for a spot in the playoff. He was the definition of must see TV, and he played quarterback for the University of Louisville.
I like to go back and watch old games in the summer, not only to get my fill during the downtime, but also to refresh my memory for the countdown posts. In the last ten years (being conservative) I have never rewatched as many games as I did this summer. Every single game there were multiple highlight plays from Jackson, plays that were "average" for him that would have been front and center on any previous seasons highlight reels that even I had buried in the back of my mind, until he surprised me once again. The young man made plays that should not be humanly possible, on multiple occasions , and he played quarterback for the University of Louisville.
In a year where I was expecting great things, he surpassed my wildest expectations on an individual level. The Heisman gets the pub, but just in case you missed it, he also pulled in the Davey O'Brien Award (Top Quarterback) and the Maxwell Award (Nations Top player) as icing on the cake. If you want sprinkles on that cake how does about 6 other "Player of The Year Awards" and multiple All-American nods tickle your fancy? He was "the man" of college football in 2016, and he played quarterback for the University of Louisville.
I'm done with the calm demeanor and the realistic expectations when it comes to Lamar. He's made me a believer that anything is possible for the University of Louisville. I never thought someone in the red in black would hoist the Heisman Trophy, at least not in my lifetime, so why stop there? He has the skills and experience to lead a very talented football team to the next level. The point of collision that Coach Schnellenberger spoke about many years ago is within their grasp, and I can't wait to watch it unfold. Lamar, and the rest of the team have not be bashful about their ultimate goal being to win a National Championship, and I love the mentality of "unfinished business" heading into the year. Lamar Jackson is going to be only the fourteenth player in history to try and repeat as a Heisman Trophy winner as he aims to lead his team to the College Football Playoff....and he plays quarterback for the University of Louisville.
Won the Heisman and won best dressed on the same night. Doing big things in NYC, huh LJ? Oh, also, just in case any "local" schools needed a quick reminder...here ya go. #IDrinkClemsonTears