AP HEISMAN WATCH: Jackson avoids spotlight off the field
Lamar Jackson tends to steer clear of the mall these days.
Never much for being the center of attention, at least off the field, Louisville's star quarterback and Heisman Trophy front-runner says he has been laying even lower than usual because when he does go out he often draws crowds.
''When I'm not at the stadium, I'm in my room,'' Jackson said.
Jackson has become one of college football's most recognizable players the first two months of the season. He enters November as a prohibitive favorite to become Louisville's first Heisman winner.
The latest odds from online casino Bovada have Jackson as the 1/3 favorite ahead of Clemson's Deshaun Watson and Michigan's Jabrill Peppers, who are both 9/2.
After leading Louisville to a last-minute, game-winning touchdown against Virginia last Saturday, Jackson again received all seven first-place votes from a panel of AP sports writers in this week's Heisman watch.
Jackson was also not much for talking to the media last year as a freshman and he still doesn't have a lot to say during interviews. Just as he has worked to get better as a player, Jackson has also worked to become more comfortable being the face and voice of his team.
He has the standard response to the Heisman questions down pat.
''We just try to win games,'' Jackson said during a conference call with reporters Monday. ''We don't really dwell on the Heisman and stuff like that. Don't get me wrong. It'll be a great thing if it comes to the program.''
Four more games of doing what he's done all season should do it for Jackson and the Cardinals.
Here's how AP college football writers rank the Heisman contenders going into Week 10:
1. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville (21 points)
Last week: Jackson threw for 361 yards and four touchdowns against Virginia, despite a bunch of dropped passes by his receivers and penalties by his line. Simply put, Louisville would have lost without him.
This week: at Boston College. The Eagles have one of the better defenses in the country, allowing 4.93 yards per play. But against just Power Five opposition, that number jumps 6.26.
2. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson (9 points)
Last week: Watson threw for 378 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions against Florida State. And again he was great late.
This week: Syracuse. The Orange have the worst defense in the ACC and allowed 610 total yards to Jackson in September.
3. Jake Browning, QB, Washington (5 points)
Last week: Browning was solid (186 yards passing, two touchdowns and an interception), not spectacular, in a victory against Utah.
This week: at California. The Bears are 11th in the Pac-12 in defense (6.31 yards per play).
4. Jabrill Peppers, LB, Michigan (4 points)
Last week: Peppers ran for a touchdown, scored a defensive 2-point conversion, made seven tackles and had a sack in a win against Michigan State.
This week: Maryland. Will Peppers get more than the six offensive touches he had last week?
5. Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State (2 points)
Last week: Cook had 169 yards rushing and four touchdowns on just 19 carries against Clemson. He is fourth in the nation in yards from scrimmage (180 per game).
This week: at North Carolina State. The Wolfpack held up OK against Watson and not well at all against Jackson.
6. Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State (1 point)
Last week: Pumphrey ran for 223 yards, his fourth 200-yard game, against Utah State and is on pace for 2,203 yards in 12 games. That would be the fourth-best total in FBS history. And that's not counting a likely Mountain West title game and bowl.
This week: Hawaii. The Rainbow Warriors are 10th in the Mountain West in run defense and allow 5.4 yards per carry.
Three more to watch:
- Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU. He had only 31 yards on 19 carries against Alabama last season. If he can figure out the top-ranked Crimson Tide on Saturday, he'll be back in the Heisman race.
- J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State. He gets another prime-time game with No. 9 Nebraska coming to Columbus.
- Jonathan Allen, DE, and Jalen Hurts, QB, Alabama. The big game could give a boost to either or both Tide stars.
Poll panel: AP Heisman watch panel: National Writer Paul Newberry, Georgia; Sports Writer Stephen Hawkins, Texas; Sports Writer John Marshall, Arizona; Sports Writer Joedy McCreary, North Carolina; Sports Writer Eric Olson, Nebraska; Sports Writer Steve Megargee, Tennessee; College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo, New York.
More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org