Heisman Trophy Winner Lamar Jackson Aims To Silence Critics In 2017
Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson is ready to silence critics with his on-field play in 2017. He’s only the ninth player in the history of the Heisman Trophy that returns to school the year following winning the prestigious award. As a rising junior, NFL rules prevented him from entering the NFL draft following his historic sophomore campaign. Jackson accounted for 51 touchdowns and 5,114 yards of total offense as the starting quarterback for the Louisville Cardinals in 2016.
Despite winning the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore, very few football pundits and publications predict Jackson will win the Heisman Trophy again in 2017. Even ESPN didn’t list Jackson as one of the top five players presently playing college football. Jackson was rated No. 6 on the list, and had two quarterbacks ranked in the top five ahead of him.
The snubs did not stop with ESPN. Joel Klatt of Fox Sports left Jackson off of his top five list of quarterbacks currently playing college football.
When asked by the Courier-Journal how he felt about being left off of the list, Jackson replied, “I wasn’t on the list last year, either.”
Jackson spent most of the offseason being told he was too frail and not good enough to play quarterback in the NFL. So Jackson added double digit weight gains of muscle to his frame. The six-foot-three inch quarterback now weighs 212 pounds.
Critics stated that Jackson cannot read defenses. In response, Jackson spent the offseason watching film of Tom Brady of the New England Patriots and Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers.
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) August 4, 2017
After his first four practices in preparation for the 2017 season, his coaches rave about his growth in reading defenses. Jackson’s quarterback coach, Nick Petrino, stated, “obviously his athletic skills are top-notch, but on the mental side, he’s really improved. It’s showing out there.”
Tim Tebow offered some advice to Jackson about this upcoming season. Tebow told Jackson,
“The other teams; they don’t care if the other guys get the big plays. Their game plan will be to stop you and shut you down. Focus on getting your teammates involved, and that’s also going to help you. It can’t be on the numbers, it’s got to be on, ‘Did I do my job every single play?”
Jackson has not simply basked in the glory of being a Heisman Trophy winner. He has dedicated himself to hard work. Jackson offered a disclosure that opposing defensive coordinators and opposing defenders probably didn’t think was possible. Jackson told reporters, “I think I got faster.”
Jackson has spent the offseason being compared to Michael Vick by Michael Vick and being celebrated as a Heisman Trophy winner, but has opted to stay low key and work hard. Jackson explained his perspective of his Heisman Trophy fame,
“There’s a lot of Heisman winners out there. It’s not just me. I’m just humbled by the situation and already trying not to get too overwhelmed about it. I’m still in college.”
Outside of Louisville, there is not a lot of Heisman hype or attention being cast upon Jackson heading into his junior season. Jackson may prefer it that way. Jackson’s performances on 100 yards of green grass tend to speak loudly enough for him.
[Featured Image by Chuck Burton/AP Images]