BOZICH | Lamar Jackson still projected Heisman winner with one w - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Lamar Jackson still projected Heisman winner with one weekend to play

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Lamar Jackson remains the player to beat for the 2016 Heisman Trophy. Lamar Jackson remains the player to beat for the 2016 Heisman Trophy.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson will win the 2016 Heisman Trophy. The award will be presented to him in New York City around 8:30 p.m. Dec. 10.

That’s my prediction.

Jackson won’t be the runaway winner that he appeared to be before Louisville (9-3) finished its regular season with stumbles against Houston and Kentucky, sliding out of contention for the College Football Playoff.

But after collecting opinions from 26 national media members who cover college football, most of them Heisman voters, I’m comfortable projecting a Jackson victory.

Two players that I expect will also be invited to New York City are Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson and Washington quarterback Jake Browning. Those two could grow support with dynamic games in their conference championship games this weekend.

Michigan linebacker Jabrill Peppers, Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts, Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett and Stanford halfback Christian McCaffrey are guys I view on the next tier. There is also support for two Oklahoma players — quarterback Baker Mayfield and receiver Dede Westbrook.

My Heisman polling was not scientific. About 870 on-line ballots were distributed last week. (Full disclosure: I’m one of the voters.) Voting closes at 5 p.m. Monday.

The New York Downtown Athletic Club asks that voters do not reveal the names of the three players they are requested to list on their ballots.

I did not ask the 26 media members to share their ballots. I did request a sentence or two assessing Jackson’s season and his chances of winning the award that many consider the most prestigious individual award in sports.

Here are the complete answers supplied by the media members who responded:

TONY BARNHART, SEC NETWORK/GRIDIRON NOW

“I think Jackson has played his way back to the field after having a big lead.

“But at the same time, no one else has really stepped up and taken advantage of the opening. I still see Jackson winning the Heisman…”

BILL PLASCHKE, LOS ANGELES TIMES (non-voter)

"Failing to put Lamar Jackson on top of the Heisman ballot because of his late struggles would be like leaving Alabama out of the national playoff for one late-season loss.

“Jackson has been so much better than everybody else for so much of the season, the race should still not even be close … his crazy numbers and video-game highlights are beyond debate.

“He would have had to fumble on every play against Kentucky to even have the slightest chance of losing the trophy … Lamar Jackson is the best player in the country, and has been for three months, and it would be stunning if he doesn't win in a landslide.”

CECIL HURT, TUSCALOOSA (Ala.) NEWS

“It is difficult to ignore Jackson's season statistics. While the Cardinals' last two weeks didn't help him, I don't think they sunk him either .”

JOHN ADAMS, KNOXVILLE (Tenn.) NEWS-SENTINEL

“You shouldn't judge anyone by his worst games or days. But by his overall body of work. In a college field crowded with dual-threat quarterbacks who look unstoppable on some Saturdays, Jackson has stood out all season. 

“He turned my head the first time I saw him. Twice this season I recorded his games, even though I wouldn't write a word about them.

“And I buried the lead. I thought he would win Heisman second time I saw him. Still do.”

RON COOK, PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE

“Lamar Jackson is one of a handful of worthy Heisman Trophy candidates, the leading candidate, actually. But if a vote is close, I, as do many voters, factor in team success. Louisville's late-season collapse could hurt Jackson in that sense.”

JOE GIGLIO, RALEIGH (N.C.) NEWS-OBSERVER

“To me it's real simple, the Heisman Trophy is an award for the best player in college football in the 2016 season. When taken on the whole, that's clearly Lamar Jackson, even if you factor in any issues he had in the last two games.”

PETE DiPRIMIO, FORT WAYNE (Ind.) NEWS-SENTINEL

“I haven't made up my mind -- and will wait to see what happens in the conference title games, specifically (with) Washington QB Jake Browning.

“Jackson has great stats, but the fact he played his two worst games at the end of the season is a big deal, at least for me. I'll evaluate everything after Saturday.”

KEVIN SCARBINSKY, AL.com

“I’ll make my final decision after Saturday’s games, but Lamar Jackson will figure prominently in my final deliberations. He has Heisman-like numbers, and he’s had a Heisman-type impact, keeping Louisville in the playoff discussion deep into November.

“The last two losses don’t invalidate the terrific year he’s put together.”

KIRK BOHLS, AUSTIN (Texas) AMERICAN-STATESMAN

“I think Lamar Jackson broke out to such a big start right out of the blocks, he will probably get to the finish tape first. His stats couldn’t be any gaudier. 

“I’ve yet to make up my mind, but I am a little troubled by the two losses to end the season, including his turnovers against Kentucky, and I am underwhelmed by much of Louisville’s competition this season.

“I’m still betting he wins, however, and he still might get my vote because he’s a truly dynamic player.”

IVAN MAISEL, ESPN

“I BOW to his accomplishments -- BOW. Body of Work. Jackson may have bogeyed 17 and 18, but he still wins the major because of the first 70 holes.”

SHANNON RYAN, CHICAGO TRIBUNE (Non-voter)

“A player shouldn't have two games as bad as Lamar Jackson and still win the Heisman Trophy. Nothing about a loss with three interceptions and a game-deciding fumble says excellence.

“Last week's loss to Houston knocked the Cardinals out of the playoffs as Jackson couldn't avoid being harassed all game and keeping his run game in check.

“(Last Saturday), he knocked himself - once a given for the award -- out of contention for the Heisman with his rough day against Kentucky. Michigan's Jabrill Peppers didn't win on Saturday either but it was a double overtime loss to Ohio State. I consider Peppers the most talented, most exciting player in the nation.”

JOE REXRODE, NASHVILLE TENNESSEAN

“Losing hasn't helped Lamar Jackson, obviously, but I also don't see anyone charging into the picture to claim this from him. I still think he's the best player.

“He had no protection vs. Houston, the Kentucky loss was mostly on the defense. It's hard for me to envision anyone in the final weekend doing enough to pass him.”

STEWART MANDEL, FOXSPORTS.com

“Two losses to end the season and the turnovers (Saturday) certainly open things up if another worthy contender steps up. What's working in his favor is there's really no consensus who the other leading contenders are, and there's only one week left for someone else to make a statement.”

DAVID JONES, PENNLIVE.com

“I like the kid. I like his audacity and the way he takes the blame for his mistakes when occasionally forces things. Yeah, he made two big giveaways in the UK loss. But you can hardly kill him when UL scores 38. He isn't why they lost.

“I'm also not the type to penalize a Heisman candidate for losses, even late losses. It's an individual award. And where would Louisville be without him?

“No, I judge the whole season, front to back, evenly as far as chronology. I do weigh important games more heavily. I think Houston will hurt him more than Kentucky, at least for me.”

RAY GLIER, FREELANCE JOURNALIST

“Lamar picked a good year to have a bad (relative) two weeks. There wasn't another Heisman contender lurking close by.

“If UW's Jake Browning scorches a good Colorado team in Pac-12 final, he might have a chance, but Jackson has probably built up too much capital.” 

CAULTON TUDOR, WRAL (Raleigh, N.C.)

“I really think it's his even after the losses to Houston and Kentucky. Three weeks ago, he had a huge lead IMO and that usually is enough to hang on.

“And really, the defense went AWOL in those 2 games. He did his part. 

I'd like to see him win it simply because he's had the best season of any individual player.”

WALLY HALL, ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT

"Lamar Jackson burst upon the national scene impressively and never let up.'

JOE BIDDLE, WKRN, Nashville

“Lamar was clearly the front runner early in the season, but he had a couple of average games. I think it makes the voting wide open.

“No clear choice in my mind, but there are some good games remaining. Hopefully someone will step up and make it a no-brainer choice.”

DAVID TEEL, NORFOLK (Va.) DAILY PRESS

“No doubt a disheartening close from Louisville (against UK), but hopefully the electorate considers Jackson’s, please excuse the phrase, complete body of work. And if they do, certainly his statistics – No. 2 nationally in total offense and TD responsibility – and unsurpassed skill-set set make him a viable candidate.

“And while I know we’re accustomed to Heisman winners playing for title contenders, let’s not forget that RGIII (Robert Griffin) and Baylor lost three games during his Heisman season.”

TOM OATES, WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL

“I've had Jackson as a Heisman lock for about two months because he was the one candidate who had never stumbled. He's still in the lead after his last two games, but I will now consider others before I cast my vote.”

TODD JONES, COLUMBUS (Ohio) DISPATCH

“I still think Jackson has a great chance of winning the Heisman Trophy despite Louisville's past couple of games. He might be backing into the award, but who else has had a better overall season than him? Think of the season as a body of work, not a stretch run.”

HERB GOULD, TMGCollegeSports.com

“Obviously. recent setbacks have lowered Lamar Jackson's stranglehold on the Heisman. I'll look at other candidates just to make sure I'm not overlooking anyone.

“But honestly, I just think LJ still wins; he just wins by less. He had some unbelievable performances. And I'm old enough to remember when the Heisman wasn't merely the MVP of the national champion.

“One big key: there isn't an obvious second choice.”

DOUG LESMERISES, CLEVELAND.com

“Honestly, I've assumed all year I'm voting for Jackson. At the moment, I still think I am. I've always liked Deshaun Watson as a player and voted him first last year, but I'm not sure about him this year.

“I would imagine I'm in a place many are - thinking Jackson was the guy, now not being sure and having to search for who the winner should be if it's not him.

“Right now, I don't know. But the title games could have a big impact on my vote.”

DOUG DOUGHTY, ROANOKE (Va.) TIMES

“I think I'm like a lot of voters in that I'm assuming that Jackson hasn't played well because Louisville hasn't been winning. In all fairness, I need to see how he has performed in those games before moving him off the top of my list.”

MIKE LOPRESTI, NCAA.com

“(His final two games were) damaging, but not fatal. Depends on how many electors are like voters in presidential elections, making their minds up and sticking with their choices no matter what at the end.

“It's just one game, though the timing is lousy. This does remind you a little bit of the FBI sending a letter in the final day of the campaign, saying it is still investigating the emails, but what could save him, besides his body of work. is the fact there is no one surging candidate with a compelling argument out there to draw the masses.”

GREG LOGAN, NEWSDAY (non-voter)

“If I did have a vote, it would go to (Clemson quarterback) DeShaun Watson or (Michigan linebacker) Jabrill Peppers ahead of Lamar Jackson.”

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