Huskies coach said it's only natural for Locker to think about the NFL, but that decision-making process will really start after the season.
Asked to assess the performance of quarterback Jake Locker this season, first-year Washington football coach Steve Sarkisian on Monday termed it “somewhat up and down,” citing moments of brilliance mixed with inconsistency.
What’s mostly been up, however, are the projections of where Locker might go should he declare for the 2010 NFL draft. Locker is a junior who could return to UW for one more season or leave early if he wishes.
And in his first significant comments on the issue, Sarkisian said Monday he doesn’t know what Locker will do and that the coach will help in Locker’s decision-making process once the season is over.
“We’ll assess it after the year,” Sarkisian said. “I think Jake is a bright young man who is patient, he’s got two tremendous parents that have raised him extremely well, and we’ll get all the proper information in place and he’ll make a really good decision in what’s best for he and his family, and not just the immediate, but for his future as well.”
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Underclassmen have until Dec. 18 to apply to be evaluated by the NFL’s college advisory committee, which Locker is almost certain to do. The deadline to declare for the draft is Jan. 15, and players can pull their names out until Jan. 18.
Locker has said only that he’s not thinking about it now but will after the season.
His stock shot through the roof after the upset over USC in September, and numerous mock drafts continue to rank him among the top five to 10 potential picks in the draft.
Sarkisian, though, said it’s only natural that the NFL has been on Locker’s mind.
“You are reading it, people are talking about it, asking you about it — human nature tells you that yeah, of course you are going to think about it,” Sarkisian said. “To what extent it affects his play, I don’t know that. But I know he’s thought about it.”
Enough that Locker and Sarkisian have had a few conversations about it.
“Just some generalized stuff,” Sarkisian said. “Just that there’s nothing you can do about it but play and we’ll deal with it after the year.”
Sarkisian said he won’t give advice to Locker, instead just giving all the information he can. As quarterbacks coach at USC, he had three players consider leaving early — Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart, who each stayed for one more year, and Mark Sanchez, who left after last season.
Sarkisian said it was hard to compare Locker to Sanchez because Sanchez had four years in USC’s system, while Locker has had just 10 months with Sarkisian.
Asked if Locker would be ready for the NFL, Sarkisian said: “Yeah, sure, he’s ready. Everybody is ready to some degree.”
That degree might be the key, as the decision figures to rest on just how high the NFL evaluators tell Locker he will be picked.
Most of the mock drafts note Locker’s improvement this season — while generally agreeing that he could use more time to develop — but add that his potential is so great he’d likely be a high pick whenever he comes out.
All of that seemed on display Saturday in Corvallis as Locker threw for three touchdowns but also had a costly interception early in the game that helped swing the momentum toward Oregon State, which won 48-21.
Locker has thrown 10 interceptions this season, tied with USC true freshman Matt Barkley for the most in the Pac-10, something Sarkisian attributes in part to newness in the system.
“There are some things we’re finding out that if we don’t rep [practice] the way we want to rep and we get a different look in the game, he’s not quite as comfortable as he could have been,” Sarkisian said.
“And that’s not because the guy can’t handle the system or isn’t comfortable in the system, it’s just from lack of repetition of running plays and understanding a system or a scheme.”
• The Huskies practiced Monday and will practice today and Wednesday before breaking for the bye week.
• Locker sat out the team portion of Monday’s practice to rest, Sarkisian said.
• Safety Nate Fellner, who suffered the only significant injury Saturday — a partially torn biceps — was back at practice Monday, the injury apparently not serious.
• The Huskies have received a commitment from Victor Burnett, a middle linebacker from Culver City (Calif.) High. He is the 23rd known commit for the Class of 2010.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org