Lamar Jackson is first-ever UofL football player on SI cover - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Lamar Jackson is first-ever UofL football player on SI cover

Lamar Jackson is on the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated. (Source: Sports Illustrated) Lamar Jackson is on the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated. (Source: Sports Illustrated)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Sports Illustrated covers are kind of a big deal, and not just for the swimsuit edition.

SI is considered the most important sports publication. It is America's oldest, having published its first issue in 1954.

And this week's cover, for the very first time, will be graced by a UofL football player.

Electrifying quarterback and Heisman Trophy frontrunner Lamar Jackson is on the cover next to the headline "What. Just. Happened?"

Just a sophomore, Jackson has racked up a total of 18 touchdowns in just three games, including five in Louisville's 63-20 demolition of then-No. 2 Florida State on Saturday at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. The Cards, now ranked third in the country, had never beaten a No. 2 team before Saturday.

Hall of fame Journalist Billy Reed wrote for SI for years and knows just how much it means to athletes and the sporting world.

"Right now, Louisville football is the hottest story in the sport,” Reed said. "Making the cover of the magazine was a career goal.”

Jackson is easily the Heisman leader and with Saturday's showing on national television, UofL stamped itself as a legitimate national title contender. Jackson’s odds of winning have gone from 100-1 to being an overwhelming favorite at 6/5.

"I expected that Lamar was going to have a really good season,” Reed said. “I don't think anybody anticipated the kind of numbers he's put up these first three games.”

The UofL sports information department said Jackson is the first player in school history to earn the SI cover. Former Card Johnny Unitas was featured, but not until he was playing football professionally and Brian Brohm made the cover as a high school quarterback at Trinity. More recently, basketball player Russ Smith made the cover in 2013.

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