Lamar Jackson was one of the most exciting and productive players in college football history. But the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback almost had another role with the Cardinals when he first joined the Louisville football program.
In a new report from Sports Illustrated, it was revealed that Jackson was put back as a punt returner during practice of his true freshman year.
That didn’t last long, though, because his mother stepped in.
From the report:
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville entered the 2015 season with plenty of quarterbacks, but the Cardinals were struggling to find a punt returner.
True freshman QB Lamar Jackson’s athleticism was so tantalizing, and the need for a dynamic returner so urgent, that someone on the coaching staff asked him to go field a punt and see what happens.
Seemingly minutes after practice had ended, members of the coaching staff got a call from Jackson’s mother, Felicia Jones. Head coach Bobby Petrino had lured Jackson to the Bluegrass State with the assurance that the freshman would be a quarterback and only a quarterback. Punt returner doesn’t look like quarterback, she said. She reminded them all of the promise Petrino had made to her and her son while sitting on a couch in their South Florida home. Jackson never went back for a punt return in practice again.
Despite Jackson’s success at quarterback, there are still concerns about his ability to transition to the position in the pro game. Some question his size, while others simply focus on his speed and athleticism, but if Jackson is given the opportunity to play quarterback in the NFL there is no reason to believe he won’t be able to succeed.