Lamar Jackson’s Floating Like A Butterfly, Alright

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Louisville football paying homage to hometown hero Muhammad Ali with butterfly decals on the Cardinals’ chrome helmets Saturday wasn’t enough. Lamar Jackson gave The Greatest an extra nod with a performance that will have sports fans talking for years to come.

Lamar Jackson’s 17 carries for 146 yards and four touchdowns, with a fifth touchdown coming via the pass, delivered a resounding knockout punch to second-ranked Florida State. Around the time the Cardinals’ lead swelled to 46 points, Jimbo Fisher probably wish he could have thrown in the towel, a la Sonny Liston in his first encounter with Ali.

That fight really helped establish Ali’s prominence in the boxing world. Saturday’s win announced Louisville’s presence as College Football Playoff contenders with its out kind of authority, and certainly established Lamar Jackson as the very early Heisman Trophy favorite.

Covering this sport makes one a prisoner of the moment. I’m well aware of that. At certain times in the careers of other quarterbacks like Marcus Mariota, Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, Vince Young, Jameis Winston and so on, I asked myself, How does it get any better?

Lamar Jackson’s at that point thus far into sophomore season. And before accusations of letting recency bias carry me away, I’ll refer to another jaw-dropping star of my college football-watching days.

Maybe he’ll continue along at this torrid pace — or close to it. At this juncture, Jackson only needs be serviceable and the Cardinals reach the ACC Championship Game for him to get the call to pick out a tux and hit New York City. That’s how good he’s been through three games.

But if he’s anywhere near as dynamic as he’s been through the season’s first quarter, Lamar Jackson’s 2016 is going to go into the same rarefied air as Mariota in ’14, Winston in ’13, Vick in ’99, Young in ’05, Ward in ’93.

I won’t allow myself to get too carried away and make the Ali comparison expect to say Jackson earned his butterfly Saturday. He floated with an unrivaled grace, and stung Florida State like one opponent in recent memory.