By Dalton Ray —
On Aug. 14, 2014, the Louisville football program changed forever — and no one could have guessed it. With the Twitter handle of @tito_ljackson at the time, Lamar Jackson tweeted “#Louisville Cardinal commit.”
Fast forward 371 days.
Jackson’s freshman season started with an interception and ended with four touchdowns in the Music City Bowl.
Jump ahead 833 days from his commitment.
Heisman Trophy trustee Sanford Wurmfeld stepped on stage in New York City and announced Jackson as the Heisman winner.
Immediately, Jackson’s hand covered his mouth and head dropped.
“I’m sorry, (you all). This is crazy for me right now,” Jackson said as he reached for his acceptance speech.
The youngest Heisman winner ever, Jackson shook the program in 29 months.
It’s hard to appreciate a player like Jackson until he’s gone. During his career, Jackson made Louisville football must watch, which is arguably the first time that has ever been said about the program.
After the win against Kentucky, coach Bobby Petrino said Jackson surprises him every day.
“It’s so fun to watch how much he’s grown as a player,” Petrino said. “He’s the ultimate competitor. I’ve never been around someone who competes like him.”
Petrino didn’t stop there when talking about his Heisman winning quarterback.
“He’s the best player you’re ever going to see,” Petrino said. “His ability to throw the ball, run the ball, there’s been nobody like him and it’ll be awhile before you see anyone like him again.”
When Jackson entered the press conference, he was told about Petrino’s comment and his eyebrows raised — caught off guard maybe.
Jackson responded with casual sports jargon.
“That just makes me grind harder,” Jackson said. “If that’s what he said or what my teammates think, I just have to live up to it.”
Jackson may have shrugged off the comments, but when a player like Jackson hits the field, everyone knows it.
“I’m just glad we don’t have to play him,” linebacker Johnathan Greenard said.
In 37 career games, Jackson totaled 200 yards in 33 games and scored at least one touchdown in 34 games. In 25 games, Jackson totaled over 300 yards.
Video game numbers and big smiles are standard with Jackson. His time at U of L may be coming to an end, but the memories will last a lifetime.
You can follow Dalton Ray on Twitter @dray5477.
Photo by Nancy Hanner / The Louisville