Rated as one of the nation's top 10 quarterbacks as a senior at Columbus (Ga.) Carver High School, Jawon Pass arrived on the Louisville campus with a lot of expectations, but most would be forced to wait at least 12 months before really getting a sense of how he'd perform on the college level.
Pass, who is answers to the nickname 'Puma' by teammates and coaches, spent last season as a redshirt. The majority of his time was spent as the scout team quarterback and watching as Lamar Jackson captured the nation's attention during a Heisman-winning season.
This spring, the 6-foot-4, 240-pound Pass is working behind Jackson as the number two quarterback and he's being prepped to play this fall. He credits much of his continued to development to Jackson and fellow reserve Kyle Bolin.
"I learned how to win the Heisman," he said of Jackson. "I know what it takes. It's just been a blessing to sit behind him, watch and learn from him.
"Kyle knows the game very well, so I try to pick his mind apart about the game."
Now 15 pounds heavier than when he first arrived, Pass is focusing on being ready step behind center this fall. As the top reserve, he realizes that he could hear his name called by Petrino at any moment and must have the understanding of the offense when that moment arrives.
"I have to be alert at all times," he said. "I need to always be locked in so if my name is called I'll be ready."
He works alongside Jackson during spring practice and is receiving a number of reps with the anticipated first team offense. He and Jackson often discuss each other's play during the two-hour practice sessions in an effort to improve both players performance.
"We push each other to get better. If he sees something that I'm doing wrong he'll let me know and vice versa. We just get on each other."
A three-time All-State choice and an Army All-American at Carver, Pass' impressive frame, when coupled with his ability to find open receivers and running skill have often drawn comparisons to former Auburn and current Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
"A lot of people compare me to Cam," he said. "If somewhere were to ask me who I model my game after, I would say Cam, too, because of our size and our ability to run and throw the ball. I get that comparison a lot."
While Pass' opportunities to play this fall will likely only come in games when Louisville has built sizeable leads, U of L's star quarterback is looking forward to watching him perform.
"Puma's great," Jackson said. "I can't wait to see him play."