BOZICH | Lamar Jackson proved anything possible for Louisville football
Lamar Jackson will bypass his senior season at Louisville for the NFL, but Jackson has changed the profile of the Cardinals' program.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Anything's possible now.
That's how I started my column after Lamar Jackson and the University of Louisville punished Florida State on national TV in 2016.
Visits by ESPN College GameDay. Louisville firsts. A legitimate spot in the scramble for the national championship playoff. Unimaginable. A Heisman Trophy. He beat players from Clemson and Oklahoma.
Anything's possible now.
That is also the best way to start this column after Lamar confirmed on Friday there will not be a fourth season with the Cardinals. He is bound for the NFL.
Jackson got the Heisman. GameDay made back-to-back appearances in town. Lamar's No. 8 jersey became a bigger holiday get than any U of L basketball jersey for local kids, adults and former basketball coaches.
Lamar blew up into a certified one-word Louisville folk hero the way Griff (Darrell Griffith, young folks) did for Louisville basketball. Lamar changed the sports culture.
That was new territory for Louisville football. I credit Lamar.
Credit him for doing it with a dynamic athleticism as well as a humble personality. Lamar was a Heisman winner who never acted as if that award came with privileges. He regularly credited his teammates. He refused to consider sitting out the Cardinals' bowl game even when common sense said that was the right call.
Did Lamar do it all?
Nobody does it all (other than Nick Saban).
The Cardinals' push for the national playoff collapsed last season in November after the loss to Houston. Expectations for 2017 were greater, considerably greater, than the 8-5 record that Bobby Petrino's team delivered.
Lamar returned to New York City for the Heisman Trophy ceremony. But he was an also-ran after the Cards lost to Clemson. Lamar was unable to seriously threaten to strike the pose after that defeat.
That's all part of the Lamar story. He was spectacular but he was not perfect. He made plays that no other player could imagine but sometimes misfired on basic passing plays.
His statistics sparkle across the Louisville record book but there was the fumble against Kentucky last season and the 50 percent passing performance against Clemson this season and the four interceptions against Mississippi State last Saturday.
Lamar did superhuman things. There were more super moments than human moments, but there were both. It happens.
That is why the debate will continue to percolate about Lamar's football future.
Does he throw the football with enough crispness and precision to become a winning NFL quarterback? Does he have the footwork, throwing technique and ability to read defenses?
How much of his sensationally instinctive ability to run and avoid nasty hits will translate into effective NFL play against larger, faster linemen and linebackers?
Would Lamar be better served making the kind of move Reggie Bonnafon made at Louisville, splitting time between quarterback, receiver, halfback and return guy?
He is no sure NFL thing.
Big deal. Neither were Brian Brohm, Dave Ragone or Chris Redman. Making it as a quarterback in the NFL is as daunting as any assignment in professional sports.
NFL scouts, general managers and coaches will determine that. Lamar deserves the opportunity to prove that he can or cannot play quarterback at the highest level.
Frame by frame analysis of Lamar's performances are already underway in NFL scouting offices. Lamar deserves an open mind.
There will be plenty of opportunities to debate Lamar's NFL future. This is a time to acknowledge and celebrate everything he did for Louisville football.
Two wins over Florida State as well as two more over Kentucky. A Top 10 spot in the rankings. Persistent love and attention from the national media.
The leap at Syracuse. The spinning run against Florida State. The last-minute TD pass at Virginia. You likely have other favorites. There were plenty to rewind.
That Heisman Trophy has to be near the top of the list.
For Louisville football, Lamar convinced people that anything was possible.
Copyright 2018 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.