(AP) — Lamar Jackson is leaving Louisville to enter the NFL draft, one season after becoming the youngest Heisman Trophy winner.
The 20-year-old junior quarterback tweeted Friday that he talked with his family before announcing the decision, which was confirmed by the school.
His decision was somewhat expected after he compiled some statistics that were better than those from his Heisman-winning numbers as a sophomore. He finished third in this year’s vote.
Jackson thanked Cardinals coach Bobby Petrino, teammates and fans on Twitter. “It has been nothing short of an honor to be a member of #CardsNation and to play for this university.”
Jackson, 6-foot-3 and 212 pounds, is a dynamic player but it’s uncertain how high he’ll be drafted this spring. Despite accounting for 5,261 offensive yards and 45 touchdowns — his second consecutive season in which he surpassed 1,500 yards rushing and 3,500 passing — questions remain about his accuracy and size.
The native of Pompano Beach, Florida, led the Cardinals to three consecutive bowl games, though they lost their last two. Jackson totaled 329 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s TaxSlayer Bowl but also threw four interceptions in Louisville’s 31-27 loss to No. 24 Mississippi State.
Fox Sports NFL analyst Charles Davis believes Jackson can play at the next level because of improved decision-making, along with his mobility.
“If we went back to 2016, I admit that I was not as bullish on his prospects as an NFL quarterback as I am now,” Davis said recently. “What I saw in the last year reminds me of (Dallas Cowboys quarterback) Dak Prescott as a junior — minus the size because Dak is a bigger, thicker guy, and there’s no getting around that.
“A lot of his big plays before occurred because of the run. This year I saw a better pocket presence, I saw better accuracy, better delivery. I’ve seen that improvement, that growth.”
Irish’s Adams declares
Notre Dame running back Josh Adams declared for the NFL draft Friday, becoming the second Irish offensive standout in as many days to announce he’s forgoing his senior season.
Adams, mentioned in the Heisman Trophy race for a portion of the 2017 season, finished 19th in the nation with 110 rushing yards per game and led the nation with seven runs of 60-plus yards.
“With a lot of thought, prayer and discussion with my family, I’ve decided to forgo my senior year and enter the 2018 NFL Draft,” Adams wrote in a message posted on Instagram.
Wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, who led the Irish in receiving yards the last two seasons, declared for the draft Thursday.
— Chicago Tribune
Iowa loses Jackson, Daniels to draft
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson and center James Daniels are leaving to enter the NFL draft.
The school made the announcement on Friday. Eastern Michigan said this week that reserve quarterback Tyler Wiegers would join its program as a graduate transfer.
The loss of Jackson wasn’t much of a surprise for Iowa. He led the nation with eight interceptions and 26 passes defended last season and earned consensus first-team All-America honors in his first year as a starter.
Daniels might be as big of a loss as Jackson. Daniels started 25 games in three seasons with the Hawkeyes, anchoring a line that struggled at times in 2016.
“James and Josh will do well in their testing and preparations for the NFL draft,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “They will be high draft selections and have successful careers in the NFL. We wish both players our best and thank them for their contributions to our program.”
USC’s Jones to skip senior year
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Southern California tailback Ronald Jones II will skip his senior season to enter the NFL draft.
Jones made the announcement Friday, two days after quarterback Sam Darnold announced his intention to leave USC early.
The speedy, durable Jones has been an excellent heir to the Trojans’ Tailback U. tradition, finishing fifth in school history with 3,619 yards while averaging 6.1 yards per carry.
Wake Forest’s Bates leaving early
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Wake Forest defensive back Jessie Bates III says he will forego his final two seasons of eligibility to enter the NFL draft.
Bates announced his decision Friday on Twitter, saying he has “envisioned playing in the National Football League my entire life.”
Bates had 77 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble as a redshirt sophomore this season while helping the Demon Deacons (8-5) close the season by winning three of four, including a Belk Bowl victory over Texas A&M last week.