It’s rare that one person would occupy this space two weeks in a row. So rare that I’m not sure it’s happened in the 11 years that I have penned this column. However, this is the week. On Saturday night, I was in New York City as UofL quarterback Lamar Jackson became the first player in program history to win the Heisman Trophy. Jackson received 526 of the 929 first place votes. As a Heisman voter for the first time this year, I voted him first, with Clemson’s Deshaun Watson second and Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers third. Jackson amassed 4,928 total yards and 51 touchdowns for the 9-3 Cards. He is the 82nd Heisman Trophy winner and just the fourth sophomore to win the award.
Lamar Jackson, Heisman Trophy winner: That sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
It’s an honor, man. I was finalists with four great guys, and to have my name called, it’s overwhelming. I am beyond blessed. I thank the Lord.
Take us through the emotions of when you are waiting for the announcement. Was it different than anything you had ever experienced?
It really is. It’s better than the video game. My heart was pounding. For some reason, my teammates, Brandon Radcliff and James Hearns, were like, “Man, you’re going to cry.” They were jinxing me in a group message; they were telling me I was going to cry on stage. When I was on stage, I was like, “Man, you all just jinxed me.” My heart was pounding. It was just tears of joy. I didn’t cry actually.
There’s no question what you are going to do with this trophy, is that right?
The lady right there. It’s going to my mother. Everyone knows that.
Where do you want the statue?
Wherever my mother wants to put it.
No, the Lamar Jackson statue. Tom Jurich said he’ll need to build one.
I didn’t know about that. You just told me about that. I don’t care where you put it. It’s an honor to have a statue.
Are you going to retire that red velvet jacket?
I don’t know yet.
Did you tie that bow tie?
Something like that.
Did you even expect to start any games last season, coming in with three quarterbacks ahead of you on the depth chart?
Coach told me he was going to give me the opportunity to play. I just went out there every practice and worked my butt off. I happened to happen like fast. I wouldn’t say I expected it that fast, but it happened so I’m happy.
How hard was it to bounce back from that first pass, the interception against Auburn?
Oh no, it was easy. I was mad about that, like Coach got to put me back out there. I know I’m going to do something now because I got it out of the way. Throwing an interception, that was on my mind the whole time, so that’s why I think I did it.
Reggie Bonnafon was the starting quarterback in that first game. How big of a part has he played in helping you get to this point?
Man, that’s my big brother. He gives me a ride every day to practice; you know, I don’t have a car. We bond a lot. Each and every one of us on the team, we always bond. No bad blood with us. Reggie is a tremendous athlete, and he’s still doing his thing. Next year, just get ready for him. He’s coming. VT