Jacob Eason was named Washington’s offensive scout squad MVP last season.
That’s a heck of a long way from the Heisman.
Hear that, social media super fans? Hear that, pumped-up prognosticators and anonymous self-anointed experts?
Chris Petersen kindly requests you pump the brakes.
“The scout team, especially for a quarterback, what are we talking about? I can be the scout team quarterback,” Petersen said after Washington’s first spring practice on Wednesday. “It’s on a card. It’s not processing anything. It’s just looking pretty throwing the ball, so all those guys (Eason and redshirt freshmen Jacob Sirmon and Colson Yankoff) did that really well.
“It’s a whole different thing when there’s no card in front of you and you’re really processing and checking plays and changing protections and all those type of things. That’s a whole different thing.”
Point taken. Still, it must be said that Eason — a 6-foot-6, 228-pound junior — looks prettier throwing a football than most. That’s why the Lake Stevens product was ranked as a five-star prospect and the No. 4 overall recruit in the 2016 class by 247Sports. It’s (at least somewhat) why he won the starting job at Georgia in his freshman season. It’s why his decision to transfer to UW last January was met with waves of Husky hysteria.
A little more than a year later, it appears we’ve reached high tide.
“I just think it’s a disservice to him for you guys to put all this pressure on him, because I’ve seen what’s out there and all this kind of stuff,” Petersen said. “It’s like, he’s a college guy that’s played one year of football that’s got some really good talent. But our other guys do as well. But it’s not being talked about the way it is with him, and I think that’s unfair.
“That’s why I hope he’s got everything off in terms of the social media and all that kind of stuff so he can just lock in. Because nobody in the NFL can even play as good as everyone is making him out to be.”
OK, so what are fair expectations for Eason? For one thing, the former Lake Stevens standout hasn’t played a competitive football game in nearly a year and a half. He may need a tub of WD-40 just to eradicate the rust caked onto his right arm. And when he did uncork that cannon in his freshman season in Athens, Ga., it was often inaccurate, finding its target just 55.1 percent of the time. He has also yet to be named the Husky starter, currently embroiled in a quarterback competition with sophomore Jake Haener (among others).
So, no, it’s unlikely that Eason will become the first Husky to win the Heisman. But that hasn’t stopped some understandably excited fans from saying it (and tweeting it, and dreaming it).
And it hasn’t stopped Eason from hearing it, either.
“That’s just one of those things. You take it and notice it, but you can’t let it affect you,” Eason said of the expectations that have surrounded his Husky homecoming. “I’ll do the best I can to please everyone, but you can’t please everyone. So it’s one of those things.
“It’s awesome being in front of my family and friends. I love that they don’t have to fly five hours to see me play. But you take that with a grain of salt and do the best that you can and work as hard as you can.”
Eason certainly seems to be working. On Wednesday, he and Haener split reps with the UW starters. And last season, he worked just as hard to A.) improve, and B.) prepare the UW defense for life in the Pac-12.
“That was hard,” Eason said of his year spent on the sidelines. “But not being able to play on Saturdays, I used that in my practice time. I got to compete Monday through Thursday and try to get them better. So Saturday (for them) was my Monday through Thursday, if that makes sense.”
Starting on Aug. 31, Eason will finally have his Saturdays back. But, at least publicly, he’s not letting his mind wander to Washington’s season opener nearly five months away.
“That’s a long way down the road, and we take it one day at a time,” he said. “So right now I’m just thinking about tomorrow’s spring practice. But we take it one day at a time and try to get better and ultimately that day will come and we’ll be ready to go.”
When it comes to reciting clichés, Eason is already ready.
But when he’s not reading off of a card, how will he handle everything else? The pressure? The social media spotlight? The checks and audibles and interviews and autographs?
The goal, after all, was never to be the scout team’s offensive MVP.
In the spring, at least, Eason’s eyes should be set on the starting job.
After that, all he has to do is lift the Huskies to new heights.
“I wasn’t in it to get the (scout team) player of the year,” Eason said. “I was in it to make the team better and help guys around me get better. I think the coolest thing about that was I was bonding with some of the freshmen and underclassmen who are also on the scout team, really just seeing those guys work and buy into their role.
“There’s a lot of guys on the scout team who could have been the player of the year, not just me.”