Lamar Jackson is moving on to the NFL.
As expected, Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, announced Friday morning that he has decided to enter the 2018 NFL draft. The Louisville quarterback leaves the program with a ridiculous statistical output: 9,043 yards and 69 touchdowns passing and 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns rushing.
Jackson first burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2015 as he showcased his electric athletic ability, capped off by 453 yards and four total touchdowns in a bowl win over Texas A&M. That carried over into the 2016 season when he won the Heisman with 3,543 passing yards, 1,571 rushing yards and 51 combined touchdowns — 30 passing, 21 rushing.
His numbers were even better this year, but Jackson finished third in the Heisman voting behind Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Stanford’s Bryce Love. In 2017, Jackson threw for 3,660 yards and 27 touchdowns with 1,601 yards and 18 scores on the ground. However, the season — and his college career — ended on a down note as Jackson threw a career-worst four interceptions in a TaxSlayer Bowl loss to Mississippi State. In that game, though, Jackson became the third FBS quarterback to reach 50 passing touchdowns and 50 rushing touchdowns, joining Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick.
“As I have said before, Lamar is the best player you’re ever going to see,” Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino said. “His impact on our university and this community has been immeasurable. And while personal accomplishments have been massive, he has remained such a humble person and has been a terrific teammate who cares more about others and simply winning.
“It’s been such a pleasure to coach him and see his growth as a player. Lamar is the ultimate competitor. His ability to throw the ball, run the ball, there’s been nobody like him and it’ll be awhile before you see anyone like him again. While he is moving on, our relationship does not end here. We will continue to help him in any way we can and embrace every opportunity he has to remain engaged with our university. We all wish him tremendous success.”
Now the questions about Jackson’s ability as a passer and how they translate to the next level are going to be debated ad nauseam. His completion percentage improved from 56.2 in 2016 to 59.1 in 2017, but his accuracy and decision-making as a quarterback, like for most running quarterbacks, will be scrutinized in the months leading up to the draft.
Jackson joins UCLA’s Josh Rosen, USC’s Sam Darnold, Wyoming’s Josh Allen and Nebraska’s Tanner Lee as quarterbacks who have declared early for the 2018 draft.
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