Jimmy Lake owns this city.
Not literally, and certainly not to the extent he would if the first-year head coach eventually delivers Washington’s first national championship since 1991.
But the 43-year-old former Eastern Washington defensive back does technically own major landmarks Pike Place Market, CenturyLink Field and T-Mobile Park … in the game “Seattle-opoly.”
Staying at home, it seems, can have its competitive perks.
“It’s Monopoly, but it’s all Seattle-themed,” Lake explained in a teleconference with local media on Tuesday. “I won. I crushed everybody. There’s keys instead of hotels. I’ve got keys everywhere. I bought Pike Place Market. I bought CenturyLink and Safeco. I wiped all my kids out and my wife. So I took that down.”
Gradually, he’s also taking down the Harry Potter movies, which Lake admitted he’d never previously seen. That was made even more evident when he referred to the sorcerer’s stone as “the whatever, the jewel or whatever it is.”
But, alas, it isn’t Lake’s job to triumph in Harry Potter trivia. He’s a football coach. And even now, he’s putting in a full day’s work.
For Lake — and the rest of UW’s coaching staff — that means instructing Husky players via video conferences in the morning, and solidifying relationships with prospective recruits in the afternoon. UW’s students are taking classes in the spring quarter entirely remotely, and the university also canceled all athletic-related activities — including practices, pro day and the spring game — through the end of the quarter on June 5.
And despite the fact that he can’t currently travel to visit or host recruits, Lake says this period can still be interpreted as a positive for UW.
“With the recruiting piece, I’ve actually really enjoyed being on the phone, texting, FaceTiming with a lot more recruits, a lot more parents than maybe we would if we were always busy getting ready for practice and doing meetings and those sorts of things,” Lake said. “What I really love in our situation right now for the University of Washington, is these prospects have to do a lot of research now online of what places they want to attend.
“When they start looking up the University of Washington, they’re going to see, ‘Oh wow, this is the No. 10 ranked academic school (by the U.S. News & World Report). Wow, they have the best attendance of anybody out west. Wow, they’ve won two Pac-12 championships in the last four years. Wow, this team has more NFL draft picks than anybody in the Pac-12 in the last seven years. This team has more NFL Combine invites than anybody in the Pac-12.’
“When they start doing all that research on their own and not getting caught up in some of the hype of recruiting and it’s just the facts, I think that’s really going to help out the University of Washington.”
UW currently has two verbal commits — five-star quarterback Sam Huard and three-star corner Zakhari Spears — in its 2021 class.
Tough luck for Garbers?
Ethan Garbers enrolled early to have 15 extra practices to compete for the Huskies’ starting quarterback job.
Instead, the 6-foot-3, 193-pound freshman from Newport Beach, Calif., is stuck at home, like everyone else, learning the offense from a distance while taking classes online. It’s plenty impressive, of course, that the former four-star prospect went 16-0, while completing 69.6% of his passes and throwing for 5,034 yards with 71 touchdowns and five interceptions, in his senior season at Corona Del Mar High. But he’s never been tested on the collegiate level.
And in that sense, he’s got company.
Redshirt sophomore Jacob Sirmon, after all, completed just 2 of 3 passes for 19 yards in five games across his first two seasons. And redshirt freshman Dylan Morris sat behind Jacob Eason and Sirmon in 2019. UW’s only other quarterback is sophomore walk-on Jesse Martineau, who was recently added to the roster.
So yeah, Garbers is behind. But considering the circumstances, and with a new offense, is he really that far behind?
“Jacob and Dylan, obviously they’ve been here,” Lake said. “They’ve been through our training camps. They’re older. Any veteran is always going to have a little bit of a step ahead of anybody at any position. But, like I mentioned earlier, if hopefully 45 or 60 days from now everybody’s able to report and we start our 15 practices at that point (in June), it’s going to be no different than if Ethan arrived Sunday night like he was supposed to. He’s learning, just like all the rest of our players are learning through zoom meetings with their coaches and constant conversation. That’s all we can do at this point.
“It’s going to be exciting, though. I know that. I think we’re all ready to get back to normal and watch some guys compete, especially what you’re talking about with the quarterback position. I know that’s going to be a highly attractive competition.”
Former UW head coach, defensive coordinator, assistant coach and defensive end Jim Lambright died last weekend at age 77.
And Lake, a former UW defensive coordinator in his own right, had plenty to say about Lambright’s legacy.
“I would always run up and shake his hand anytime I saw him at practice,” Lake said. “I’ve had so much admiration for what he did here as the defensive coordinator under Don James, and then through those tough times (with NCAA sanctions in his early years as head coach). But they won a bunch of games after he became the head football coach after Don James resigned.
“He would just shake my hand, we’d look at each other and I’d say, ‘Hey coach, I appreciate everything you’ve done here.’ He’d say, ‘Thanks Jimmy. Go Dawgs.’ It was pretty short, pretty sweet. But I had admiration for him. Every time he was at the practice field in spring or training camp I would get certain players and point over and say, ‘Do you know who that man is?’ They would kind of shake their heads no. Then I would tell them the story of who he was. So it’s very, very sad. I can’t say enough about the admiration that I have for him.”
When asked what stood out about his team’s winter workouts, Lake highlighted both sides of the ball.
“I was definitely able to see that (nickelback) Elijah Molden and (defensive lineman) Levi Onwuzurike really stood out leadership-wise,” he said. “I think on the other side of the ball I just really felt a sense of excitement, a sense of energy, a newness to learn a completely new package. I saw a lot of focus, and I saw a lot of offensive players in the hallways up here outside of workout times to meet with their coaches individually so they could really get on top of the new plays. So I was really pleased with that.
“I think the guys were energized and juiced to get going, and obviously we had to press pause on that. So we’re all hoping this gets back to normal soon so we can get out there and compete against each other.”