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Lamar Jackson torched north Carolina for 6 touchdowns last weekend. (Gerry Broome/Associated Press)
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Sports columnist with beat writing suffer on baseball, golf, the NFL, college basketball and college football

If girlfriend remember the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner together Deshaun Watson of Clemson, that"s fine. Native here, a season removed, Watson had actually the greatest affect on the sport, and also his team won the biggest prize, and also he must have taken the hardware.

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If you entered this season thinking the Heisman favourite was Sam Darnold of southern Cal, that"s fine, too, since the last time he appeared on a field, in the rose Bowl against Penn State, that threw for 453 yards and also five touchdowns and looked an extremely much choose he might quarterback the new York jet a job later.

And then the 2017 season starts, and also you’re reminded: Oh, yeah. Lamar Jackson.

"I mean, the male is very, an extremely special," said North Carolina Coach Larry Fedora, whose team to be torched through Jackson for 6 (six!) touchdowns critical week. "I don"t treatment who that plays against."

This week, the plays versus Clemson.

“Oh, man,” Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney said.

Now, only one man has won the Heisman Trophy twice, and also that to be Archie Griffin, the running back from Ohio State. Griffin is 63 years old. This is not since only seniors victory this award. In fact, there hasn’t been a an elderly as a Heisman winner in more than a decade.

So below comes Jackson, the small quarterback of the Louisville Cardinals. A year ago, he supplied a losing initiative at Clemson — in which the accounted for 457 yards of total offense and also three scores , up against Watson’s 397 yards of full offense and five scores (with 3 picks ) — to introduce himself as a Heisman hopeful.

Now Jackson and the Cardinals will host the Tigers, who are without Watson however with perhaps the country"s most destructive defensive front. And the Heisman winner that protective front will confront is . . . Better?

“I think he’s much improved as a passer,” Fedora said.

Before we examine that claim — and, simply two gamings into a season in which Jackson has currently produced 1,010 yards and eight scores combined on the ground and through the air, there’s plenty of proof that Fedora’s appropriate — over there is the issue of that actors bronze statuette awarded every December in Manhattan.

Starting v the award’s start in 1935, the very first 10 Heismans visited seniors. By the time Griffin won as a small in 1974, there had been 35 seniors and also just 4 juniors . The possibility to repeat to be rare.

Now the award’s trends have completely flipped. The last an elderly to victory the Heisman was Ohio State quarterback trojan Smith in 2006. There had actually never to be a sophomore winner till Florida’s Tim Tebow in 2007 — and he was the very first of 3 straight. No student in the first year won the award prior to Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel in 2012 — and then Florida State frosh Jameis Winston winner the following year.

And however none the the underclassmen repeated.

Of course, numerous — electronic came Newton, Robert Griffin III, Marcus Mariota and also Derrick Henry native the previous decade alone — won the trophy and also went directly to the NFL. However wouldn’t the odds have it that among these various other players would repeat?

Has recent college football developed a larger star than Tebow? The Florida good won his award in a year in i beg your pardon his team went a pedestrian 9-4 — once he accounted because that an astounding 55 touchdowns. Yet even as he led Florida to the nationwide championship together a small in 2008, he produced 762 under yards of complete offense and also 13 under touchdowns and also finished third behind Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford and Texas quarterback Colt McCoy .

Bradford was simply a sophomore, however his repeat attempt to be derailed by a shoulder injury suffered in the opener, a difficulty that placed him the end for the year through October. For this reason Alabama running ago Mark Ingram, additionally a sophomore, edged out Stanford ago Toby Gerhart in the closestly Heisman race in history (1,304 votes to 1,276 votes). But Ingram’s repeat initiative went awry indigenous the start. That missed the Tide’s first two gamings with a knee injury, and he ran for barely half the yards he had as a sophomore. Therefore Newton, as electric a university performer together there has been because that a generation, easily seized the award in his only season at Auburn, a year that developed a nationwide title.

Manziel joins Tebow in the conversation together the sport’s biggest star that the past two decades, and his sophomore year developed a greater completion percentage, an ext touchdown passes and a greater quarterback rating than his Heisman-winning freshman campaign. Yet he didn’t have the sport-shaking success over Alabama the he notched as a freshman, and also Texas A&M lost 4 games. Thus, Winston and his 40 touchdown passes stepped through the crack in the door en route to a national title. And also when Winston followed by throwing under touchdowns and more interceptions as a sophomore, well, there to be Mariota — beating the in the Heisman race, in i m sorry Winston come in sixth, and then in the college football playoff.

So start this year, it was easy to i have dissolved Jackson together a back-to-back winner due to the fact that what proof do we have, over the past 40 seasons, that such a creature existed? Both Darnold and Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield entered the year together betting favorites over Jackson, and also you might get decent odds, prior to the openers, ~ above Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett or penn State running back Saquon Barkley .

And climate they started playing soccer again. And also Jackson stepped in, confounding an initial Purdue, climate North Carolina .

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“He’s no a player the you deserve to assign a solitary defender to,” claimed Virginia Coach Bronco Mendenhall, who team enabled Jackson 449 yards the offense and four touchdowns critical season and must challenge him again this fall. “It takes a player down the middle and also usually one ~ above both political parties of him. . . . You operation out of numbers if you need to put that many on the quarterback. . . . The an impressive challenge.”

The challenge, this week, drops to Clemson. Swinney’s midweek evaluate is the Jackson is “as good a player together there is top top the planet.” He referred to this season just as “Part Two.”

And part Two could be better. One play from last week’s game versus the Tar Heels reflects how. Midway through the 2nd quarter, Carolina came with a edge blitz from Jackson’s right. Last year, Jackson had actually the athletic capacity to sidestep a single rusher and also gain yardage. This year, though, when challenged with an unblocked defender, Jackson not just dodged him through ease yet kept his eye downfield. The play, on which a common quarterback would have been dead, turned right into a 75-yard touchdown pass.