Jack­son named pre­mier player

Louisville QB looks like Heis­man fa­vorite

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Paul New­berry

at­lanta» La­mar Jack­son picked up another tro­phy for his mar­velous sea­son. He got a glimpse of the one he re­ally wants. On a red-car­pet night in At­lanta, Jack­son cap­tured the Maxwell Award as the na­tion’s top col­lege player Thurs­day night and sig­naled him­self as the clear fa­vorite for the Heis­man Tro­phy.

Jack­son al­ready won the Wal­ter Camp Award, also given to the best player.

“I’m shocked. I’ve got but­ter­flies. I never had those be­fore,” the sopho­more said, pos­ing with his Maxwell Award af­ter a cer­e­mony at the Col­lege Foot­ball Hall of Fame, where eight other award winners were an­nounced.

In an in­ter­est­ing twist, Clem­son’s De­shaun Wat­son claimed the Davey O’Brien award as the na­tion’s top quar­ter­back for the sec­ond year in a row — beat­ing out Jack­son.

Now it’s on to New York, where they’re both fi­nal­ists for col­lege foot­ball’s most pres­ti­gious in­di­vid­ual award.

“He’s a tremen­dous player him­self. He’s done lot of great things,” Jack­son said of Wat­son.

Both quar­ter­backs got a look at a 25-pound Heis­man Tro­phy on dis­play in the Hall of Fame. Jack­son was im­pressed by the size. “It’s a big tro­phy,” he said. “I’m go­ing to need to do some more push-ups.” Maybe not. Wat­son hasn’t given up on his dream of claim­ing the Heis­man be­fore he heads off to the NFL. He won’t re­turn for his se­nior sea­son, hav­ing al­ready earned his col­lege de­gree in three years.

“I have a lot of con­fi­dence in the way I’ve played over the course of the sea­son,” said Wat­son, who fin­ished third in the Heis­man race a year ago be­hind win­ner Der­rick Henry of Alabama and run­ner-up Chris­tian McCaffrey of Stan­ford.

While the Maxwell vot­ing is a solid in­di­ca­tion of how the Heis­man race might go, it’s no guar­an­tee. In fact, only two of the last five winners — Henry and Marcus Mar­i­ota in 2014 — went on to cap­ture the more il­lus­tri­ous award.

Wat­son is hold­ing out hope that he’ll pull out a come-from-be­hind vic­tory over Jack­son, who had been con­sid­ered the over­whelm­ing fa­vorite un­til the Car­di­nals lost their last two games.

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