Lamar Jackson took the college football world by storm in 2016, putting up video game-like numbers on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy.
While Jackson’s play caught some people off guard, one player not surprised by Jackson’s success was Clemson cornerback Trayvon Mullen.
Mullen is Jackson’s cousin and saw the athleticism Louisville’s quarterback displayed in 2016 when the two grew up together in Florida.
“We always played against each other our whole life. Like little league football, we always played against each other in super bowls and regular season,” Mullen said Tuesday. “We never played on the same team. We always played against each other. How he is now is how he was before. He was always that type of player.”
Mullen and Jackson communicate constantly, including this week. The conversations often aren’t about football. Mullen checked in to see how Jackson’s mom was doing after Hurricane Irma hit Florida and was happy to learn that she is safe.
“We talk every day, even when we’re not playing we just talk. We don’t even talk so much about football and us playing, we just talk because we’re cousins,” Mullen said. “But as far as talking about the game and stuff like that, we haven’t discussed that.”
Jackson is off to a strong start as he tries to become the second person to repeat as a Heisman winner, joining Ohio State’s Archie Griffin.
Through two games, the junior has 239 rushing yards, 771 passing yards and eight total touchdowns.
Mullen said because he’s familiar with Jackson’s game, it will help him on Saturday.
“I feel like I know him. I feel like I know what he does and what type of player he is just from being around him my whole life,” Mullen said. “Just the way he moves, he’s a good athlete, that’s all I can really say. He’s a good athlete.”
Mullen said he hopes to chat with Jackson before the game. The two haven’t seen each other since the summer when they were home.
Once the game starts, it will be all about taking care of business.
“I feel like they’re a really good team, but I feel like with our defense and the way we run our schemes, we’ll have a way to get after him,” Mullen said. “I’m looking forward to it. … I tell him I’m ready to get after him. I’m just ready to compete with him; it’s just going to be a challenge.”
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Papa John’s Stadium; Louisville, Ky.
Radio: 93.1 FM
Line: Clemson by 3.5