Super Heisman Man: Louisville’s Lamar Jackson

Hey, Lamar Jackson.

There. Did it. Broke out of the gate early, made America take notice, put University of Louisville football squarely in the national spotlight. Nailed down honor after coveted honor, separated yourself as America’s  best college football player in 2016.

No doubt, not even close.

Play after play, on the ground, through the air, touchdown after touchdown, week after week. Setting new standards for athleticism, so often, so consistently. Considered his norm notching three, four or five touchdowns game after game.

Lamar Jackson winner of the Heisman Trophy winner for the 2016 college football season.  Racking up 3,390 passing yards, 1,538 rushing yards, with an astonishing 4,928 yards and 51 touchdowns. Leading UofL to a 9-3 won-lost record.

Louisville has had many great football players. Among them Johnny Unitas, Lenny Lyles, Deion Branch, Brian Brohm, Elvis Dumervil, Howard Stevens, Walter Peacock … So many names on the flight deck at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

But only one of them ever considered a serious contender for football’s most prestigious award — the Heisman trophy destined to stand alongside the Walter Camp and Maxwell Player of the Year awards on the Jackson family trophy wall.

Lamar Jackson bringing unprecedented attention to University of Louisville football, rewarding the faithful for long-standing loyalty. One of the most outstanding performances in the history of any sport.

Lamar Jackson himself, his fans, his detractors, his teammates, the opposition — everyone knowing he could have done much better. God willing, absorbing the lessons, getting better, setting even higher standards next year.

Hopefully blowing the doors off the hinges next season, having only just begun.

Photos courtesy of Cindy Rice Shelton.

No early morning wake-up calls for Louisville football fans … yet

So far so good.

Game times for six University of Louisville football games have been announced and, thus far, none of the kickoffs are set to begin at noon.

If UofL lives up to expectations, there may be no need for early morning tailgating.

The first three games, all at Papa John’s, against Kentucky, Missouri State and North Carolina will begin at 3:30, allowing for prime time tailgating for late waking UofL fans.

The game at Florida International on Sept. 22 is at 7:30, as is the game at Rutgers on Nov. 29. The Cincinnati clash at Papa John’s on Oct. 26 is at 8 o’clock.

Keep the fingers crossed, however.

Five of the six remaining contests are conference games, and the start times until after the season begins. The TV people waiting to see how the conference race is shaping up. If UofL lives up to expectations, there may be no need for early morning tailgating.

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Chris Redman, who quarterbacked U of L from from 1996 to 1999, will be inducted into the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame during ceremonies Friday at the Louisville Palace.

Redman was career leader in passing completions (1,031) and 12,541 passing yards, completing 84 touchdown passes and holds almost every single game, single season and career passing record at U of L.

Other Louisville inductees have included David Akers, Deion Branch, Tom Jackson, Joe Jacoby, Lenny Lyles, Sam Madison, Frank Minnifield, Howard Schnellenberger, Ted Washington, and Dwayne Woodruff.

Johnny Unitas will be in there some day. Pretty certain of that.

Louisville football fans salute Deion Branch

Photo by Menefee Seay

Deion Branch returned to Louisville on homecoming weekend to have his name and number (No. 9) become a permanent fixture at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. With him was one of his 9-year-old twin sons, Deiondre or Deinontey, along with his 4-year-old daughter D’Ahni and wife Shola.

Branch played football at Louisville for only two seasons after transferring from a junior college but ranks among U of L’s top 10 receivers in receptions (143) receiving yards (2,204) and receiving touchdowns (18).

He was named Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005 after tying a record with 11 catches in New England’s 24-21 victory over Philadelphia.

Branch currently plays for the Seattle Seahawks but there is at least one report that New England may want him back. Seattle has a bye this week and next plays the Chicago Bears on Oct. 17.