Can he – YES. Will he – Maybe. The Heisman Trophy has been given out annually since 1935 to “the most outstanding player in college football in the United States whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.” In the 81 year history of the Heisman trophy, there have been 80 players who have won the trophy. The reason is that only 1 player has ever won the award twice – Archie Griffin (1974 and 1975).
Lamar Jackson is not the first player to have a chance to repeat as the award winner but he is currently the only player with a chance to repeat. I know that statement is obvious but I make it to remind you just hard it’s going to be to repeat. If that statement is obvious to you and I, then think about every opponent he and the Cards will face this year. They are all aware too and would love nothing more than to beat the reigning Heisman trophy winner or, at minimum, would love to sack him. If Lamar is going to repeat, he will have to do so with a target on his back.
You could say that the hunter has become the hunted. But, I’m willing to bet that if you ask Lamar he would say that he is still the hunter. He is hunting a national championship. I’m sure he would love to win the Heisman again but I would assume that he would trade another trip to New York for a trip to the college football playoffs.
We all know that the Heisman trophy is not an award handed out by obtaining a certain standard of statistics but rather the award is voted upon by humans. Different people have different opinions and opinions can be changed no matter if they are justified or not. The media likes to build you up when you are on the rise but once you reach the pinnacle, they love to tear you down piece by piece. Anybody remember how they tried to tear down Teddy Bridgewater before the NFL draft? We heard thing we had never heard before like, “his hands are too small” or “he has skinny knees.”
We are already starting to see the bias against a repeat winner. Just check out the latest Heisman trophy Vegas odds from Bovada …
|Sam Darnold (QB USC)||+250|
|Baker Mayfield (QB Oklahoma)||+700|
|Lamar Jackson (QB Louisville)||+800|
|JT Barrett (QB Ohio State)||+800|
|Jalen Hurts (QB Alabama)||+900|
|Bo Scarbrough (RB Alabama)||+1200|
|Saquon Barkley (RB Penn State)||+1400|
|Deondre Francois (QB Florida State)||+1400|
|Derrius Guice (RB LSU)||+1400|
|Jake Browning (QB Washington)||+1600|
|Nick Chubb (RB Georgia)||+1600|
|Mason Rudolph (QB Oklahoma State)||+2000|
|Josh Rosen (QB UCLA)||+2000|
|Trace McSorley (QB Penn State)||+2500|
|Nick Fitzgerald (QB Mississippi State)||+3300|
|Kamryn Pettway (RB Auburn)||+3300|
|Luke Falk (QB Washington State)||+3300|
|Shane Buechele (QB Texas)||+3300|
|Cam Akers (RB Florida State)||+4000|
(Odds as of May 23 at Bovada)
How is the reigning Heisman trophy winner not the preseason favorite to win the award again? Especially when he was the youngest to ever win the award. This just baffles me.
So if Lamar is going to win the Heisman Trophy again, he will have many obstacles in his way besides perception and bias. Here are some reasons that I believe why he can repeat.
- Offensive Line – The offensive line last year was, well, offensive. Louisville gave up an average of 3.6 sacks per game ranking 124th out of 128 division 1 college football teams. Despite the struggles of the O-line, Lamar still won the Heisman. Bobby Petrino has addressed the O-line needs this off-season through recruiting and JUCO. With the anticipated improvement of the line, Lamar should have more time to throw the ball and won’t be running for his life. I believe, if given time in the pocket, Lamar will prove that he is a NFL caliber pocket passer that also has the threat of taking it to the house if forced to scramble. We saw major strides in his passing from the previous year. If his improvement from freshman to sophomore year continues on the same trajectory, then we will see a superstar passer as a junior. But again, he needs protection from his O-line and I believe they will deliver.
- Schedule – Louisville’s schedule provides a great balance of game to put up more amazing statistics as well as giving Lamar a chance to lead his team to victory in front of national audiences. Lamar can probably play 3 quarters or less versus Kent State and Murray State while putting up eye-popping numbers. He, and Louisville, have a chance to capture the eye of the college football world as the defending national champs come to the Ville without their 2016 Heisman runner-up QB. I believe the biggest showcase for Lamar will be a trip to Tallahassee. Florida State is going to be really good and they are looking for revenge after the 43 point loss last year.
- Finish – I’m not exactly sure what happened in the last 3 games of last season but I’m quite sure whatever that was will not happen again. It seemed like some of the team was lacking either effort or focus forcing Lamar to do more than he needed to do. The young quarterback was put in a position that he had not been in before. His desire to win had him trying so hard and sadly the media mistakenly thought that he was trying to pad his stats for the Heisman. They were wrong. I don’t think the finish to this upcoming season will be anything like last years but if any adversity faces Lamar this season, he will be able to draw for his experiences of last season and will know how to handle it better.
Lamar Jackson can win the Heisman trophy again but it won’t be easy. Regardless if he wins or not. I am still proud of this young man and I wish him nothing but the best. When his time here at Louisville is done, we may be talking about him as the best player to ever wear a University of Louisville football jersey and he may have his number retired up in the ring of honor as well as his own statue.
As Always, GO CARDS!