The concept of the “most irreplaceable” player is always an interesting one, much in the way that “most valuable” is difficult to quantify. However, Ben Kercheval of CBS Sports took on the difficult task of trying to unearth the college football star that best fits that description and he came up with Louisville quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson.
There’d have to be a hell of a good reason to leave the reigning Heisman Trophy winner off this list and at least a good explanation if he’s somewhere lower than third. Jackson, by himself, was worth a lot of wins. That’s irreplaceable, but it goes beyond that. Last season, Jackson played on level so comically above everyone else that the Heisman race was legitimately over by November. It was briefly 2010 Cam Newton-esque. As it so happens, November was Jackson’s worst month, but Jackson’s good was so good that no one could offer legitimate competition without totally kidding themselves.
Quite obviously, this is not an out-of-the-box pick given that Jackson was dominant in 2016 and plays the most important position on any team. Still, there is at least a small segment that believes Jackson’s performance was not worthy of Heisman love and there are other legitimate contenders.
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, Florida State defender Derwin James and others were in full consideration for the list and it is easy to see why. The Nittany Lions will rely heavily on the ground game in 2016, while the ‘Noles took a huge step back defensively when James went down last season. Still, there is nothing quite like a do-everything quarterback and Lamar Jackson is the perfect example of that at the college level. Let the debate begin.