University of Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson and wide receiver Jaylen Smith were selected to the Atlantic Coast Conference’s first team, highlighting seven Cardinals named to the league’s postseason awards list on Monday in a vote by the league’s head coaches and media members.
Wide receiver Dez Fitzpatrick, offensive tackle Geron Christian, placekicker Blanton Creque, and cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Trumaine Washington were named honorable mention recipients.
Jackson is having another record-breaking season in leading the nation’s third-ranked offense. He is pacing the country in total offense at 411.0 yards per game and is the ACC’s leading passer and rusher – a first in ACC history.
Entering the postseason, the Pompano Beach, Fla., native has rushed for 1,443 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2017 – the first player in school history to rush for over 1,300 yards in consecutive seasons. He broke his own school record with nine 100-yard rushing games this year and the 22nd of his career, tied for the third most in ACC history.
With 372 total yards and two touchdowns in the regular-season finale victory at Kentucky, Jackson broke his own Louisville record, logging his 12th game this season with 300 yards of total offense. He is responsible for 116 touchdowns in his career, tying Clemson’s Deshaun Watson (2014-16) for second on the ACC’s career list.
The junior signal caller has thrown for 3,489 yards and 25 touchdowns this season, passing for over 300 yards six times in 2017. In three seasons at Louisville, Jackson has thrown for 8,872 career yards, passing Miami’s Jacory Harris (2008-11) for 18th on the ACC’s career list and is fourth in school history.
The team’s leading receiver, Smith has registered career highs with 53 receptions for 873 yards and six touchdowns. Despite missing three games with a wrist injury, Smith ranks second in the ACC – 11th nationally with an average of 97.0 yards per game. He is 27th in the country with 5.9 receptions per contest.
The Pascagoula, Miss., product opened the season with a pair of 100-yard receiving games, catching eight passes for 117 yards in a win over Purdue and followed it up with a career-best nine-catch performance for 183 yards and a 75-yard touchdown reception versus North Carolina.
Smith posted his third 100-yard game of the year by catching six passes for 118 yards in a loss to Boston College and added his first two-touchdown performance in a win over Virginia.
In his first season as a starter, Fitzpatrick caught 45 passes for 699 yards and UofL freshman record nine touchdown receptions. With his ninth touchdown catch this season, the Farmington Hills, Mich., native has moved into a tie for second most TD receptions by a freshman in ACC history.
Christian, a three-year starter at offensive tackle, has started 38 consecutive games and has been a part of two top-five offenses in the nation – both averaging over 530 yards per game.
Creque currently ranks seventh in the nation in field goal percentage at 88.2 percent, connecting on 15-of-17 field goals this season. He went 3 for 3 in a win over Kentucky, moving into a tie for fifth on the school’s single-season list.
Playing in only six games, Alexander helped stabilize the defense over the last three games. He directed the Cardinals’ defense to allowing only 16.0 points per game over that span. The Charlotte native has totaled 19 tackles and one interception.
Washington earned honors after leading the team with four interceptions for 81 yards. He has 39 tackles on the year and nine pass breakups. He is one of four players in Louisville history with at least 10 interceptions and at least 20 pass breakups, joining Anthony Floyd, Sam Madison, and Rashad Holman.
Louisville, bowl eligible for the eighth-consecutive season after finishing the year at 8-4, is awaiting its postseason destination that is announced on Dec. 3.
by Rocco Gasparro