There’s an old saying in football that you might have heard:
If you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have one.
But if you only have two quarterbacks, you have a problem.
That’s the situation new Husky head coach Kalen DeBoer and offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb suddenly find themselves in, after three-star 2022 quarterback Jackson Stratton announced his de-commitment from UW on Tuesday. With sixth-year senior Patrick O’Brien also departing this offseason, the Huskies have just two scholarship quarterbacks — redshirt sophomore Dylan Morris and redshirt freshman Sam Huard — on their existing roster for 2022.
“I want to thank UW and Husky fans for making me feel part of the Dawg family,” Stratton tweeted Tuesday, just eight days before early signing day. “Relationships are important to me and due to the recent coaching changes, I am de-committing from Washington and opening my recruitment and (taking) the time to build new relationships. Thank you.”
That’s a far cry from Stratton’s previous stance. After Jimmy Lake’s firing was announced last month, the 6-foot-4, 205-pound signal-caller told The Times “I’m still 100% locked in to the program. It obviously sucks. Those are the guys that recruited me (Lake and offensive coordinator John Donovan), my main recruiters. They were the ones that made the decision to offer me and stuff. But honestly, I committed to the program, so I’m still feeling pretty good about my decision.”
It’s possible, of course, that DeBoer and Grubb evaluated UW’s existing commits and decided to rescind Stratton’s scholarship offer. The La Jolla (Calif.) High School standout is ranked as a three-star recruit, the No. 63 quarterback in his class and the No. 101 prospect in California by 247Sports. He completed 59.7% of his passes in seven games this fall (a 10% dip from his junior season), throwing for 1,692 yards with 21 total touchdowns and four interceptions, according to MaxPreps. He previously reported scholarship offers from Brown, Columbia, Florida International and Nevada as well.
Regardless, Washington will now have to add to its quarterback room — and there are a pair of intriguing prospects in the transfer portal.
Of course, rumors were rampant last week that former Washington and Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener would follow DeBoer and Grubb back to UW. The 6-1, 195-pound senior said in a text to The Times last Wednesday that “I haven’t committed anywhere yet. So you can squash all the speculation from all those people as of now.”
Six days later, Washington football fans continue to wait. In two seasons and 18 games under DeBoer and Grubb at Fresno State, Haener completed 66.5% of his passes and threw for 5,831 yards with 52 total touchdowns and 14 interceptions. When DeBoer was introduced last week, he called Haener — who would need to receive a waiver to be immediately eligible — “an amazing person, amazing player.”
But he isn’t the only free agent familiar with DeBoer’s offensive system.
Indiana’s Michael Penix Jr. — who reportedly entered the transfer portal last week — experienced immediate success in his lone season with DeBoer as his offensive coordinator in 2019. As a redshirt freshman, the 6-3, 218-pound quarterback started six games before suffering a season-ending injury — completing a program-record 68.8% of his passes while throwing for 1,394 yards with 12 total touchdowns and four interceptions. An oft-injured but undeniably talented two-time captain with two seasons of remaining eligibility, Penix has thrown for 18 touchdowns with 11 interceptions in 11 games since.
Whether Haener, Penix or an as-of-yet unknown arm eventually transfers to Seattle, Washington would be wise to add a high-school quarterback in the 2022 class as well. But with a new coaching staff, two measly months until the cycle’s final signing day and precious few available passers, that will be easier said (and written) than done.
With just eight verbal commits and five de-commits in the 2022 cycle, UW’s class ranks eighth in the Pac-12 and 59th in the nation via the 247Sports Composite.
As for immediate priorities, Washington’s quarterback room must be promptly improved. In 11 starts last fall, Morris completed 60.6% of his passes and threw for 2,458 yards with 17 total touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Huard played in four games and lost his lone start in the Apple Cup, completing 22 of 42 passes (52.4%) for 241 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions.
There is potential there, sure.
But not nearly enough depth.
In the days and months to come, expect DeBoer and Co. to address the suddenly dwindling numbers under center in Seattle. After all, the Huskies’ new head coach said last week that his offense “will always be quarterback-driven.”
Provided he finds and develops the right guy to drive.
Nine UW players earn All-Pac-12 honors
The postseason 2021 All-Pac-12 teams were announced Tuesday, and nine Huskies earned all-conference honors. Left tackle Jaxson Kirkland and cornerbacks Trent McDuffie and Kyler Gordon landed on the first team, while punter Race Porter was a second-team performer. Wide receiver Terrell Bynum, defensive lineman Tuli Letuligasenoa, linebacker Jackson Sirmon, running back Sean McGrew and center Luke Wattenberg earned honorable mention status.