There has been a whole lot of talk about Washington’s quarterback position this offseason.
About a junior transfer with a big reputation and an even bigger right arm; about an undersized sophomore with something to prove; about a redshirt freshman who (briefly) took his talents to the transfer portal.
But enough about Jacob Eason, Jake Haener and Jacob Sirmon (for now).
Unquestionably fourth on the depth chart, freshman Dylan Morris made a statement Monday.
During a team period in Washington’s fourth practice of fall camp, the 6-foot, 196-pound early enrollee from Puyallup uncorked a deep ball down the right sideline. Four-star freshman wide receiver Puka Nacua dived, hauled the football in over his shoulder and dragged his feet in bounds, securing the 30-yard reception in front of helpless defensive back Devin Bush.
It was one of several impressive connections for Morris, who has displayed both accuracy and arm strength with precious few scrimmage reps.
Granted, the former in-state standout — who completed 62.3% of his passes and threw for 9,815 yards and 99 touchdowns as a four-year starter at Graham-Kapowsin High School — is destined for the scout team, not the top of the depth chart, in a crowded quarterbacks room this fall.
But the potential has been evident in August.
And, according to Chris Petersen, even before.
“I thought he did a really nice job in spring, when he should still be in high school, and really how quickly he picked everything up,” the Huskies’ sixth-year head coach said after practice Monday. “So you might not have seen it on the field so much, but you can tell just by his decisiveness with throws out there … that’s what it takes. No question, he’s picked his game up as much as anyone.”
Morris wasn’t the only quarterback who earned praise from Petersen on Monday … even if he was the only one whose name was specifically uttered.
As Eason and Haener continue to compete for the starting job, the Huskies’ coach was complimentary of the progress he’s already seen at that position.
“I think all four of them have really been pretty good,” Petersen said. “I think there’s a lot of really good learning going on, but I do think that all of them are playing better than they played in the spring, and that’s what we were hoping when we came back from summer – that they’d not only thrown enough balls but really studied.
“You can study forever in the film room and sometimes that doesn’t translate to the field. But we’ve seen it. You can just tell, the mistakes that they make, they’re good mistakes. They’re learning mistakes. They’re small mistakes.
“They’re still mistakes and we’ll get them cleaned up, but I think there’s really good progress being made at that position for sure.”
McClatcher makes the leap
Chico McClatcher is back.
Technically, literally, he’s been back. The 5-foot-8, 183-pound wide receiver temporarily left the team last October before rejoining the Huskies this offseason.
But what about the guy who led the Pac-12 with 18.5 yards per reception in 2016? In the wake of a torn ACL, a broken ankle, a loss of confidence and two largely empty seasons, is that guy long gone?
Or is he about to get going?
McClatcher might have answered that question Monday, when he outjumped defensive back Isaiah Gilchrist — who has 3 inches and 25 pounds on Chico — to corral a jump ball for a healthy gain. As McClatcher sprung to his feet, the offensive sideline erupted, mobbing the senior receiver in an impromptu rave.
McClatcher has made a habit out of snaring passes in traffic in the first four practices of fall camp. He has looked healthy, confident, and explosive — capable of providing the element his offense noticeably lacked last season.
Yes, it’s just four practices. It’s just August. It’s early with a capital E.
“He’s been doing a nice job. He really has,” Petersen said. “Chico always practices hard and all those types of things.”
Portland Trail Blazers guard and Adidas signee Damian Lillard engaged in some inter-brand promotion last week, sending a warm welcome to the UW Huskies on social media.
“I just wanted to take some time to welcome coach Petersen and the UW football team. Team Adidas, baby,” Lillard said in a video on Twitter. “You feel me?”
Petersen apparently does, enough so that he’d like to see Lillard head 180 miles north on I-5.
“Anything going on with him?” Petersen was asked of Lillard on Monday.
“Like he might come play wideout? I’m not going to let that out of the bag just yet,” Petersen joked. “I’ll bet he could. We’ve got a scholarship for him if he wants to come.”
Considering that Lillard signed a four-year, $196 million extension with Portland last month, Petersen better not expect him to don shoulder pads and a helmet any time soon.