University of Louisville’s Lamar Jackson is seeking to become the second player in college football history to win consecutive Heisman Trophy awards.

The junior was named on Monday night during ESPN’S Monday Night Countdown as one of the three finalists for college football’s most prestigious honor, the Heisman Trophy Trust announced.

Jackson, who became the youngest winner of the Heisman Trophy in 2016, is attempting to match Ohio State’s Archie Griffin as the only two-time winner of the award. Griffin was voted the recipient in 1974 and 1975.

Jackson is the fifth player to win the award and return as a finalist the following year, joining Oklahoma’s Jason White (2003-04), Southern Cal’s Matt Leinart (2004-05), Florida’s Tim Tebow (2008-09), and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel (2013-14).

The other finalists for the 2017 Heisman Trophy are Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) and Bryce Love (Stanford).

The 83rd Heisman Trophy winner will be announced Saturday during a ceremony that will be televised by ESPN starting at 8 p.m.

Last week, Jackson became the only player in the ACC’s 65-year history to be named the league’s player and offensive player of the year in consecutive seasons.

“I’m so proud of Lamar for what he’s accomplished on the field and off,” head coach Bobby Petrino said. “To have an opportunity to become only the second player in the history of college football to win this prestigious award twice speaks to talent and drive Lamar has to be one of the game’s greatest players of all time. He’s the ultimate competitor and winner, and is one of the greatest young men I’ve ever had the pleasure to coach. He comes to the facility every day with a smile on his face and works extremely hard to get better each and every day. He’s a very special player, and I’m not sure we will ever see a player with his type of talent ever again.”

In winning college football’s most coveted award, Jackson last season rushed for 1,571 yards and 21 touchdowns, while passing for 3,543 yards and 30 touchdowns. He set a school record with 5,114 yards of total offense, while accounting for a league-record 51 touchdowns.

This season, Jackson has nearly matched those numbers – and exceeded them in some cases.

Jackson leads the nation in total offense with 4,932 yards and is on pace to set ACC season and career records for total yards per game. He has been responsible for 116 career touchdowns, tying Clemson’s Deshaun Watson (2014-16) for second on the ACC’s all-time list.

Jackson 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 ranks fourth in school history with 8,872 career passing yards, overtaking Miami’s Jacory Harris (2008-11) for 18th on the ACC’s career list.

On the verge of becoming the first player in league history to lead the league in rushing and passing, Jackson has ran for 1,443 yards and 17 touchdowns this year. He is the first player in school history to rush for over 1,300 yards in back-to-back seasons.

Jackson rushed for 156 yards in the Cardinals’ regular-season finale, breaking his own Louisville record for the most 100-yard rushing games in a season with nine. He moved into a tie for third in ACC history with 22 100-yard rushing games during his career.

The Pompano Beach, Fla., native ranks seventh in NCAA history for rushing yards by a quarterback with 3,974 and needs just 26 yards to become the seventh quarterback to rush for 4,000 yards in a career.

With 372 total yards and two touchdowns last week at Kentucky, Jackson broke his own Louisville record with his 12th game this season with 300 yards of total offense.

Earlier this season, the ACC’s three-time Back of the Week became the first player in NCAA history to rush for over 1,000 yards and pass for over 3,000 in consecutive seasons. He needs 26 rushing yards and 126 yards passing to become the second player in the NCAA record book to run for 4,000 and pass for 9,000 yards in a career.

Lamar Jackson statement on being named a finalist: “I’m honored to be chosen as a finalist with these two outstanding players. They both had great seasons and deserve this tremendous honor. I want to thank all my teammates and coaches for achieving this honor together.”

by Rocco Gasparro

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