By looking at the numbers, it's quite evident that Jackson’s improvement over the offseason has made him even more of a dynamic offensive threat than last year’s Heisman campaign, albeit without nearly as much media attention. For comparison, Jackson has enhanced his completion percentage to 60.4 percent (from 56.2 percent last season) and increased his passing average to 290.8 yards per game (from 272.5 yards per game last season). He decreased his turnover rate to only six interceptions for the season (from nine interceptions last season) while having thrown more passes, at 33.3 attempts per game (from 31.5 attempts per game last season). He is also the first player to ever throw for at least 3,000 yards and rush for at least 1,000 in consecutive seasons.
How does he compare to Mayfield, you may wonder? Well, I’m glad you asked.
Jackson is leading the country in total offense at 411 yards per game, which is more than 50 yards higher than Mayfield’s average, who's ranked No. 4 in the same category. Additionally, Jackson also edged out Mayfield in total yards for the whole season, even though he had played fewer games (4932 yards in 12 games for Jackson and 4,650 yards in 13 games for Mayfield).
Despite the fact that Jackson’s accomplishments are remarkable, the former Heisman Trophy winner was cursed with a team that was unable to live up to his enormous stature, as Louisville finished the 2017 regular season with a relatively mediocre 8-4 record considering their prolific quarterback. Only three players in the history of college football have won the Heisman with teams that had suffered four or more losses during the season, and no one has achieved this feat since 1969, which is very discouraging for Jackson’s chances.
With that being said, something else should be taken into account when the Heisman voters sit down and discuss their potential champion. It's concerning the following line in the Heisman Trust Mission Statement: “The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.”
Let me ask: Does this gesture by Mayfield look like he demonstrates integrity to you?
I don’t think so.
Mayfield has also exhibited previous examples of questionable behavior. This includes his arrest for public intoxication during the past offseason, his post-game celebration after a route of Ohio State where he planted an Oklahoma flag on Ohio State's midfield logo, a pregame instance against Baylor when Mayfield called himself Baylor’s "daddy", as well as the infamous crotch-grabbing incident versus Kansas. If the Heisman Trophy voters are actually true to what their mission statement clearly maintains, then Lamar Jackson should be announced on Saturday as the first player to win back-to-back Heisman Trophies since Archie Griffin did it back in 1974 and 1975.
Whether Jackson wins or not, he will still be profoundly remembered as one of the best players to ever step onto a college football field, and that is truly saying something.