La­mar Jack­son voted AP col­lege foot­ball Player of the Year

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

For some­one who is not com­pletely com­fort­able in the spot­light, La­mar Jack­son has come to embrace it all: the speeches, the truck­load of tro­phies, even all those tweets about his out­fits. But af­ter a week of award shows, in­ter­views and photo op­por­tu­ni­ties, the Louisville quar­ter­back just wants to get back to the place that made him the most dec­o­rated col­lege foot­ball player of the year.

“It feels like I haven’t played foot­ball in a year, I’ve been away so long,” Jack­son said. “I can’t wait to get back out there, put on those pads and grind.”

Jack­son returns to Louisville as The As­so­ci­ated Press col­lege foot­ball Player of the Year, the lat­est ad­di­tion to the sopho­more’s haul of post­sea­son awards.

The youngest Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner re­ceived 42 of 61 first-place votes from AP’s panel of me­dia vot­ers. Jack­son re­ceived 153 points over­all, fol­lowed by Clemson quar­ter­back De­shaun Wat­son (73) and Alabama de­fen­sive line­man Jonathan Allen (32). Wat­son re­ceived 10 first-place votes and Allen three.

Jack­son’s run­away se­lec­tion seemed fit­ting in a sea­son in which he out­raced de­fend­ers on his way to an im­pres­sive col­lec­tion of high­lights and hard­ware.

The 19-year-old opened the sea­son by ac­count­ing for a school-record eight touch­downs against Charlotte. Then he had a flashy goal-line hur­dle over a Syra­cuse de­fender the next week while rolling to an ACC-record 610 yards. He show­cased his im­prove­ment in the pocket and quick, nim­ble foot­work dur­ing a five-TD out­burst against Florida State in a state­ment win for the pro­gram. “His abil­ity to pic­ture plays is some­thing that he re­ally worked on and got bet­ter at,” Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said. “One of the things that is re­ally neat was how he be­came a leader dur­ing the sea­son. “I can re­mem­ber a cou­ple of times in prac­tice where he would look at me and go, ‘He was short on that route.’ And I would say ‘Yes, yes he was.’ And I would go ahead to the re­ceiver to cor­rect him and La­mar goes, ‘That’s OK, Coach. I got him.’”

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Jack­son has passed for 3,390 yards with 30 touch­downs and rushed for a school-record 1,538 and 21 scores. His com­bined TD to­tal broke Wat­son’s At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence record of 47 set last sea­son, and he es­tab­lished sin­gle-sea­son con­fer­ence rush­ing marks for yardage and TDs by a QB.

Af­ter earn­ing ACC hon­ors from me­dia and coaches as the league’s top player, Jack­son last week won the Maxwell and Wal­ter Camp awards. He’s still try­ing to get his mind around the del­uge of in­di­vid­ual ac­co­lades and at­ten­tion es­pe­cially be­ing a Heis­man win­ner.

While he will tell any­one who lis­tens that his in­ten­tion when he ar­rived at Louisville was help­ing the Car­di­nals win games and cham­pi­onships, the spot­light and ex­pec­ta­tions will grow next sea­son.

Jack­son has the chance to be­come just the sec­ond re­peat Heis­man win­ner and first since Ohio State’s Archie Grif­fin (1974 and ‘75). His goal re­mains lead­ing Louisville into cham­pi­onship play­off con­tention af­ter the No. 15 Car­di­nals (9-3) fell short this fall.

“The at­ten­tion has been like that all year, and I just can’t go out as much,” said Jack­son, who will lead Louisville against No. 19 LSU (7-4) on Dec. 31 in the Citrus Bowl. “This just mo­ti­vates me to el­e­vate my game.”

Jack­son, from Pom­pano Beach, Florida, is ea­ger to re­sume bowl prepa­ra­tions for the game in his home state af­ter a week of me­dia ap­pear­ances and award shows in At­lanta and New York - where his fash­ion choices took over so­cial me­dia.

His out­fit for his Heis­man coronation was a red vel­vet jacket with black lapels, black bow tie and black suede loafers adorned with men­ac­ing yel­low eyes, which he says rep­re­sented his fierce look from in­side his hel­met.

Ini­tially re­luc­tant to wear the shoes, Jack­son re­lented and now laughs about the at­ten­tion they gen­er­ated. “I showed my team­mates the pic­ture of the shoes and they said, ‘You gotta get them,’” Jack­son said. “I was like, ‘I don’t want to wear them,’ and we de­bated about it and talked about it, and it just went from there. It’s fun.”

Hard to imag­ine this im­pres­sive whirl­wind would be any­thing other than fun, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing Jack­son could do it again at the ripe old age of 20. — AP

File photo shows, Louisville QB La­mar Jack­son leaps over de­fender for 5th touch­down of the half.

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