Lamar Jackson is Exactly Who We Thought He’d Be

Patrick Leonard, Student Editor

Perhaps Kevin Harlan said it best: Lamar Jackson is Houdini. That sentiment expressed what everyone was thinking when Jackson peeled off a 47 yard touchdown on Sunday, juking and spinning and leaving the Cincinnati Bengals’ defense in the dust. By the end of the game the Louisville product would bring his total rushing yards for the season to 702, the 11th most out of any player in the NFL this year, surpassing the likes of all-star running backs Le’Veon Bell, Todd Gurley II, and Alvin Kamara. But his ground attack isn’t his only claim to fame. Jackson has also passed for over 2,000 yards, bringing his touchdown total to 20 through the first 9 games of 2019. With a 66% completion rate, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner is developing into an electric dual-threat quarterback. But no one in the Derby City is surprised.

Lamar Jackson was a collegiate phenom. The former Cardinal started his first game in 2015 and captivated the nation with his powerful arm and uncanny elusiveness. Jackson was the quintessential dual-threat quarterback: a playmaker both with his arms and his legs. Though his technique was raw and unrefined, that only elevated his future potential. By the time the 2015 season was over, Jackson had amassed 2,800 total yards in 12 starts and seemed poised for success in 2016, but Jackson surpassed anyone’s expectations.

“In 2016, Jackson was a human highlight reel.”

In 2016, Jackson was a human highlight reel. The sophomore rattled off win after win, carrying Louisville’s entire offense on his back. When the Cardinals traveled to South Carolina to play Clemson, the national champions to be, Jackson held his own against Deshaun Watson, Clemson’s superstar quarterback. But the greatest moment from Jackson’s sophomore season came against Syracuse, where the collegiate star literally hurdled a member of the Orange’s secondary to score a touchdown. Immediately, Lamar Jackson became a household name in the world of college football. As the season came to a close, Jackson’s football status was godlike. With over 50 touchdowns in one year and a Heisman Trophy under his belt, it was obvious the city of Louisville had a NFL star in the making.

Jackson arguably improved in 2017, his last year as a Cardinal. Though he didn’t post the same video game-level numbers he had the year before, Jackson’s mechanics saw significant improvement over the course of the season, even with a severely untalented roster. Though Jackson had many skeptics going into the 2018 NFL Draft, with many critics calling for him to switch positions to wide receiver, the Baltimore Ravens saw what Louisville did: that Jackson had the potential to become a revolutionary figure in the league. And that’s exactly what they made him.

Over his first 16 regular season starts in the NFL, Jackson has a 13-3 record, over 4,000 yards from scrimmage, and is at the helm of a Super Bowl contender. He has more rushing yards than his team’s own running back and recently blew the previously undefeated New England Patriots out of the water in a 37-20 beatdown. He has taken the professional level by storm, just as he did the collegiate scene, but back in Louisville, no one is surprised. Lamar Jackson is the superstar we knew he’d be, and no one should have expected anything else.