All eyes on the quarterbacks: Freshmen Jacob Sirmon and Colson Yankoff join Eason and new offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan in the Huskies' new-look QB room.
They have their numbers. Now someone needs to come up with nicknames for all of the Washington Huskies’ new quarterbacks.
Jake Browning (No. 3) is back. And so is Jake Haener (No. 13). On Wednesday, Jacob Eason (No. 10) and Jacob Sirmon (No. 11) joined the quarterback mix — along with Colson Yankoff (No. 7) — during the Huskies’ first practice of the spring season. It’s still only March, and thus far too early to make any bold proclamations, but this much is clear about the Huskies’ quarterback room in 2018: It has a lot talent, and a lot of Jakes.
After practice, a reporter asked Browning about having “Jacob” on campus, prompting Browning to cut in: “Which of the seven (Jacobs)?” he said, laughing at his own exaggeration.
Names aside, there isn’t any confusion about which QB will be at the controls of the offense when the Huskies open the season with a potential top-10 showdown against Auburn on Sept. 1: That’s Browning, entering his fourth season as the starter.
One of the team’s more intriguing storylines this spring, and into the summer, will be which quarterback wins the job backing up Browning. About that, we do know this much: It won’t be Eason.
A former five-star recruit from Lake Stevens, Eason transferred from Georgia this offseason and per NCAA rules must redshirt the 2018 season. He enrolled in UW classes Monday and put on a gold No. 10 jersey for the first time Wednesday morning. The 6-foot-5, 235-pound junior wasn’t asked to do much in his first practice — conducted in helmets and shorts, sans pads — but he did flash the powerful right arm that has many in and around the program buzzing.
“He’s only been here for like three days now, so I’m not going to say I’ve (been able) to help him a ton,” Browning said. “I think he’s just coming in — it’s kind of a weird situation. I’ve never been part of a situation with a transfer coming in who has to sit out a year. I think he’s taking a little bit of a back seat but still staying engaged. But it’s day one. I can’t give you this overall view on everything when it’s day one.”
UW coach Chris Petersen said Eason will have ample opportunity this year to learn the Huskies’ culture and playbook. In 2019, as a redshirt junior, Eason is expected to be the front-runner to succeed Browning as the starter.
“Now he can catch his breath a little bit, understand how we operate, our way, our culture, our system, our terminology,” Petersen said. “He’s a football guy and so he’s completely into it. But I think it’s awesome for him. I know he’s a competitor and would love to be playing and competing for real playing time right now, but he’s not. So what a great situation for him to not have to have that pressure on him that he’s had for a long time.”
There’s another new face in the quarterback room this year, and it’s a familiar one: Bush Hamdan, the Huskies’ quality-control coach in 2015 and wide-receivers coach in 2016, has returned as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Among his top priorities: develop young quarterbacks Haener, Sirmon and Yankoff.
Haener, a redshirt freshman, ran the No. 2 offense during team periods Wednesday. At one point, he was intercepted by cornerback Elijah Molden and linebacker Matt Preston on consecutive throws, and indeed the defense largely had its way against the offense during the few competitive periods.
Sirmon, the Bothell High School product, and Yankoff, from Coeur d’Alene, graduated from high school early and enrolled at UW in January. They shared limited snaps with the No. 3 offense.
“They threw like three less picks than I did my first spring ball,” Browning quipped, “so they’re probably off to a good start. They’re just trying to learn as much as they can and when you come early, you definitely hit the ground running. You’re not here with a bunch of other young guys. They’re kind of the only young guys, so when they’re going, they’re going against people that have played here for a while.
“They’re going to have their ups and downs. I think they both had pretty good days today, but they’re definitely going to have some days when it’s not very good. I remember that. I think whoever responds the best is who does the best.”