Jacob Eason says having a year’s experience makes for “a whole new world” leading Georgia’s offense. In spring practice a year ago, Eason was weeks removed from high school in Lake Stevens.

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ATHENS, Ga. – Jacob Eason says having a year’s experience makes for “a whole new world” leading Georgia’s offense.

In spring practice a year ago, Eason was weeks removed from high school in Lake Stevens.

The quarterback’s inexperience showed at times as he started the final 12 games of a disappointing 8-5 season for the Bulldogs.

“It was a big change, definitely, coming from high school,” Eason said after a recent spring practice. “Ultimately that was a great experience for me. I learned a lot from that and I’m glad I did because this year I’m going to be ready to go.”

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Eason (6 feet 5, 242 pounds) has the build and, thanks in part to a new beard, the look of a more experienced player.

“I feel like I know where I’m going with the ball, that I can make some checks and that kind of stuff,” he said. “I feel a lot better than last year.”

Coach Kirby Smart said he has seen Eason’s growth on the field.

“He’s got a long way to go, but he’s come a long way because he understands the protection now,” Smart said, adding that in 2016 “there were times he did and times he didn’t.”

At times last season, Smart offered candid criticism of Eason’s communication and decisions on the field.

“There’s a lot that was on his plate,” Smart said last week. “To manage that offense is challenging coming in straight from high school. I think he’s in a better place. He’s more confident throwing the ball.”

Eason was the Bulldogs’ most celebrated quarterback signee since Matthew Stafford, who plays for the NFL Detroit Lions and was the first player drafted in 2009.

Smart has worked to make sure Eason takes nothing for granted. Smart said he expects freshman Jake Fromm to push Eason.

One sign of Eason’s growth: Smart said the quarterback is “certainly more comfortable” changing plays at the line than at the end of his freshman season.

“There are things that Jacob can handle now, and being able to do more things,” Smart said.