November 20, 2017

Have we seen the last of Lamar Jackson at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium?

By Dalton Ray — 

As one of college football’s most electrifying players since the turn of the century, football’s Lamar Jackson has enamored Cardinal fans for three years.

Louisville played their final home game of 2017 against Syracuse. With that, U of L fans may never see Jackson play in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium again.

A junior, Jackson is eligible to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft this coming spring. When the league comes calling, it will be hard for Jackson to pass.

In his 17 career home games, Jackson scored at least one touchdown in 15.

Jackson first hit pay dirt in front of his home crowd on Sept. 12 against Houston. The rest of the season, Jackson had more interceptions than touchdowns while at home.

The Pompano Beach, Florida native stole the hearts of Louisville fans with his performances against Kentucky and Texas A&M.

Finishing the final two games of 2015 with 769 total yards and seven touchdowns, Jackson rode momentum into 2016.

Playing in front of his home crowd in the 2016 season opener, Jackson totaled 405 yards and a U of L record of eight touchdowns.

In the next home game, Jackson had his Heisman moment against No. 2 Florida State. PJCS rocked like never before as Jackson dismantled the Seminoles, scoring five touchdowns in the blowout win.

In the final home game of 2016, Jackson let down his home crowd for the first time. Atop of his two interceptions, Jackson’s fumble late in the game led to Kentucky’s game-winning field goal — the first loss against UK in six years.

Fifteen days after dropping the ball against UK, Jackson held up the Heisman trophy.

The feat is the greatest achievement any Cardinal has ever made. Just two years of donning “Louisville” across his chest and Jackson established himself as an all-time great.

Stepping into 2017, Jackson faced the daunting task of repeating as a Heisman winner.

Just three games into the season — two close wins and an underwhelming home showing against Clemson — and those hopes seemed slim.

By his final home game against the Orange, Jackson reentered the Heisman discussion. Putting a stamp on the 2017 home slate, and potential home career, Jackson put up 381 yards and four touchdowns.

With sleet falling and the wind whipping, Jackson quickly interviewed with ESPN. Throwing off the headset and trotting off the field, Jackson — as always — stopped to meet a few fans.

Like every other game, he faded into the construction-littered Howard Schnellenberger Complex. This time, it might be his last post-game jog into the facility.

In his 17 appearances at PJCS, Jackson threw for 3,751 yards and 31 touchdowns. On the ground, Jackson rushed for 1,713 yards and 22 rushing yards on 240 carries.

Jackson totaled 5,464 yards and 53 touchdowns in 17 games front of his home crowd. From 2015-17, Louisville’s 18 visiting opponents totaled 5,569 yards and 34 touchdowns.

The 2017 Heisman winner is truly one of a kind and may never wear the Cardinal gear inside PJCS again.

Picking out a favorite memory of Jackson is tough to do, but Jackson will be remembered as living in the black, red and white end zone.

You can follow Dalton Ray on Twitter @dray5477. 

Photo by Dalton Ray / The Louisville Cardinal

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