Louisville Football: Lamar Jackson Continuing to Develop

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Not many assistant coaches have the opportunity to coach a Heisman Trophy winner in their careers, but University of Louisville quarterbacks coach Nick Petrino was able to experience that last year.

In only his second season as a full-time assistant, Petrino helped quarterback Lamar Jackson to one of the best single seasons by a UofL football player in school history, which culminated in winning the ultimate prize in college football – the Heisman Trophy.

Entering his third season, Petrino is pleased that his junior quarterback continues to get better on the field, but knows that there are aspects of his all-around game that still can improve.

"Everything that happened last season was great," Petrino said. "It's a new year, but everything is going well so far after the first four days of practices. The first two days are hard on the offense because you're in shorts, but over the last few days, I've been impressed with how much Lamar has learned."

Watching Jackson on the field, it was easy to see his athletic ability and speed take over a game.

However, with only seven collegiate starts under his belt heading into last season, there was a mental aspect of the game that Jackson still needed to pick up.

Understanding the need to be a student of the game, Jackson invested more into film study and the playbook this spring and summer to help him progress into a complete quarterback – a lethal problem for opposing defenses.

"Today in blitz pickup I didn't tell Lamar one check and he got it 100 percent," Petrino said. "That was really impressive. He's come (a long way) with that side of the game."

While accounting for over 5,000 yards of total offense and tallying over 50 touchdowns, there isn't much that Jackson hasn't accomplished statistically. However, there were things mentally that the Pompano Beach, Fla., native had yet to see in his brief experiences as a Division I quarterback.

"He has come pretty far on that side of the game," Petrino said. "Obviously, his athletic skills are top notch. As far as the mental side of the game, he has really improved. He made a commitment over the summer to improve on it and it's shown out there. He's seeing things out there that he never saw out there."

Winning the Heisman Trophy last year was special for Jackson. However, the signal caller wasn't satisfied with being named the top player in college football. He came back in the spring and went right to work to be even better.

"I feel like I've have matured," Jackson said. "I feel like I've grown from last season, and I hope I just keep going. Our team has grown together. We have gone home together and I feel like we have bonded as a team."

Jackson also has grown physically. Playing at 199 pounds last season, he has bulked up to 212 pounds at the start of camp, which has helped him through the first four days of practice.

"I lift a lot more than I did before," Jackson said. "I still have my speed and I got faster."

Despite so many personal accolades last season, Petrino said Jackson is as 'motivated as ever.' Jackson wasn't thrilled with the way the season ended by losing the last three games, and not playing up to his abilities.

"The way the season ended I felt we let our fans down," Jackson said. "We should have won a lot more games. I feel we're going to be a great team this year."

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