By Dalton Ray–
U of L football has fielded 97 teams since their first season in 1912. With such a long history, very few people can say they have seen the impact each star player has had on the program. Each program has their “Mount Rushmore” of players who the fan base would select to represent their school. To make things a little easier, this Mount Rushmore is from 2000 to present.
Teddy Bridgewater, quarterback (2011-2013)
From Johnny Unitas to Chris Redman, Louisville has a rich history of stellar quarterbacks. Bridgewater, though, may take the cake as the best of them all. Putting the program back on the map, Bridgewater is one of the most recognizable and loved players to ever put on a Cardinal jersey. His signature moment was lighting up No. 3 Florida in the 2013 Sugar Bowl, the biggest upset in BCS Bowl history as Louisville entered as 14.5-point underdogs.
Bridgewater is third in program history with 9,817 career passing yards and third in passing touchdowns with 72. Known for his accuracy and control of the game, Bridgewater improved each year as a Cardinal and recorded 28 wins over his three years. In his final season, Bridgewater completed 71 percent of his passes and a program-high 31 touchdowns.
Michael Bush, running back (2003-2006)
Bush played at Male High School and came to Louisville as one of the biggest recruits the program had ever landed. One of the most dynamic and athletic players in U of L history, Bush moved to running back when high school rival Brian Brohm joined the team Bush’s sophomore year. Bush exploded in his junior year, rushing for 1,143 yards and 23 touchdowns. The hometown hero turned down the NFL Draft to return for his senior year.
Entering the year as a Heisman candidate, Bush ran for 128 yards and three touchdowns in the first half against rival Kentucky. During the second half, Bush broke his right tibia and his season was over with only 17 rushing attempts. Despite being one of the best backs Louisville has ever seen, Bush has significantly fewer carries than the seven players ahead of him Louisville all-time rushing list. While Bush was the first legitimate Heisman candidate of the 2000’s, he will go down as a player that make people say, “What could have been.”
Elvis Dumervil, defensive end (2002-2005)
At one glance, one wouldn’t expect Dumervil to be a standout player. At 5-foot-11 and 250 lbs., he was undersized for his position but Dumervil more than makes up for it with his power, agility and persistence. Expected to redshirt his freshman year, Dumervil hit the field due to injuries. Like Bush, Dumervil established himself his junior year with 52 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks.
Dumervil’s record year was in 2005, being selected as a unanimous All-American and recorded a program-high 20.5 sacks. Dumervil capped the season by winning the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Ted Hendricks Award and the Big East Player of the Year. His 10 forced fumbles during his senior season is still a NCAA record. In 2015, Louisville honored Dumervil’s jersey, becoming the 20th member of Louisville’s Ring of Honor.
Lamar Jackson, quarterback (2015-present)
Jackson is the only current member on the list and the junior-to-be solidified his place in U of L history by winning the Heisman trophy. Jackson also won the Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award and was named an unanimous All-American among a plethora of other awards in 2016.
In just two years, Jackson is top 10 in program history in career passing yards, passing touchdowns, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, total offense and total touchdowns.
Jackson is one of the few players in college football history that has the ability to win the Heisman twice. The undoubted leader of the 2017 team, Jackson is one of the most electrifying players the nation has seen since the turn of the decade. With two years left of eligibility, the Heisman winner has much more to write on his legacy.
Brian Brohm, quarterback (2004-2007)
Harry Douglas, wide receiver (2003-2007)
Stefan Lefors, quarterback (2000-2004)
Devante Parker, wide receiver (2011-2015)
By Conner Farrell-
Brohm should replace Bush on the Mt. Rushmore. Both were dynamic players and formed a fantastic backfield duo, but Bush sustained a season-ending injury in 2006 and never suited up for the team again. Brohm led the team to the school’s first BCS bowl game and was ultimately named MVP of the Orange bowl. After the bowl win, Brohm had a stellar senior season passing for over 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns. Brohm is also second all-time in career passing yards and fourth in passing touchdowns.
Graphic by Mitch Howes / The Louisville Cardinal