Jake Browning is the established star, and redshirt freshman Jake Haener made significant strides in the spring to move into the backup role.
The Washington Huskies, entering a season in which they are the heavy favorite to win the Pac-12 championship, open fall camp on Friday as they begin in earnest preparations for their much-anticipated season opener against Auburn. Today, we continue our fall-camp position preview series with a look at quarterbacks.
Jake Browning, sr., 6-2, 206
Jake Haener, rs-fr., 6-0, 196
Jacob Sirmon, fr., 6-5, 223
Colson Yankoff, fr., 6-4, 211
Jacob Eason, jr., 6-5, 235-x
x-must redshirt in 2018 per NCAA rules
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OUTLOOK: Love him or hate him, Browning is back for his fourth season as the starting QB, the first player in UW history to do that. Browning had a great relationship with former offensive coordinator/QB coach Jonathan Smith — and has gone out of his way to praise Smith, who is entering his first season as the head coach at Oregon State. For some established QBs, a change at position coach might be a major hurdle, especially going into a senior season overflowing with expectations. For Browning, though, the introduction of former receivers coach Bush Hamdan as the new OC seems to have come at just the right time. Browning says Hamdan has helped him simplify his mindset and his responsibilities this offseason, and Browning certainly sounds motivated for a bounce-back year. Browning, no doubt, will continue to have strong influence week-to-week on what the offensive game-plan will be. “The way he prepares on and off the field is better than anyone I’ve been around,” Matt Lubick, UW’s co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach, said last December. “He’s the first quarterback I’ve been around who sits in the coaches’ meetings and is heavily involved in the game plan. Like with every game plan, if he’s not feeling good about it, we’re not going to do it.”
STAR WATCH: There won’t be much “watching” Jacob Eason this fall. The former Lake Stevens star made a much-talked-about transfer from Georgia over the winter and then suited up in a Husky uniform for the first time this spring. Because of the NCAA transfer rules, Eason must redshirt this season, and as such he’ll spend his time learning the UW playbook and helping as a scout-team QB — essentially hidden in the deep background. He was made available for one group interview session in April, and probably won’t be heard from again until next April. Eason has two years of eligibility remaining, and if he has a good season in 2019 it would surprise no one if he winds up declaring for the NFL draft after that.
KEY STAT: 153.4
Browning has a career QB efficiency rating of 153.4, best in UW history. Keith Price is second at 143.2.
BREAKOUT CANDIDATE: The Huskies have one of the most talented QB rooms in the country — four- and five-star recruits all over the place — but redshirt freshman Jake Haener (listed generously at 6-feet tall and 196 pounds) came to UW with little fanfare. After redshirting last fall, Haener was one of the most impressive players on offense during the spring, establishing himself as the clear-cut No. 2 QB going into the summer. “It’s just so tried and true: You can’t fake having an edge. You just can’t,” Hamdan said in April. “And that’s one guy, every day he shows up here he sees all these big, beautiful 6-4 guys around him who can do this and do that — when really, they haven’t done anything yet — and he sits there and says, ‘OK, bring it on.’ I think that shows in how he plays the game and how throws the ball and in the decisions he makes and how into it he is.
“Every night he’s texting me, ‘Hey, man, can you talk to me about this; can you talk to me about that.’ That’s what’s really cool about a player like that: He’s got everybody against him and he’s taken that motto and I think his play has shown.”
Jacob Sirmon and Colson Yankoff graduated high school early and enrolled at UW in January, giving them a head-start on the rest of the incoming freshman class. As should be expected of any freshman, both QBs were pretty raw in the spring, but they did have some nice moments too. Sirmon was able to show off his strong arm, and Yankoff has some nifty mobility the Huskies haven’t had at the position in some time. Will watch closely in fall camp to see if one, or both, can make a legitimate push to unseat Haener for the No. 2 job.