The Folsom-to-Seattle connection has proved fruitful in the past.
In 2015, a four-star quarterback named Jake Browning signed with Washington after setting national records for career and single-season touchdown passes (91 in 2014, 229 total) in an unprecedented prep career at Folsom (California) High. He proceeded to start 53 out of a 54 possible games at UW, leaving town with the most wins of any Pac-12 quarterback (39) and school records for career and single-season touchdown passes (94, and 43 in 2016), career passing yards (12,296), career completions (958), career total offense (12,540 yards) and more.
That’s an awful lot for Austin Mack to live up to.
Mack — another four-star quarterback from Folsom High — announced a verbal commitment to UW over fellow finalists Cal, Oregon, Oregon State and Stanford on Wednesday.
“Of all the places I’ve visited, there’s only one place that felt like home, like family, especially with such a great head coach and coaching staff and such a great culture that that staff has created,” Mack said on 247Sports’ YouTube channel, before unzipping his jacket to reveal a purple UW jersey. “I’m excited to announce that I will be committing to the University of Washington.”
A 6-foot-6, 210-pound pro-style passer, Mack also earned offers from Arizona, Colorado, Colorado State, Nevada, Sacramento State, San Jose State and Washington State. He’s ranked as a four-star recruit, the No. 7 quarterback in the nation, the No. 8 player in California and the No. 53 overall prospect in the 2024 class by 247Sports.
“He’s not a statue, but he’s not necessarily going to beat you with his feet. He’s going to beat you with his arm,” 247Sports national recruiting editor Brandon Huffman told The Times last week. “He can make all the throws — short, intermediate, deep throws. He can change arm angles.
“Folsom is a wait-your-turn program. He started one game as a sophomore when the starter hurt his collarbone and was back playing JV football most of the year. This was his first year as a starter and he had a big season. The only thing Mack really lacks is extended playing time. But in his first year as a starter, he lit up the scoreboard against good opponents.”
Indeed, Mack lit up the scoreboard to the tune of 70.4% completions, 3,498 passing yards, 40 total touchdowns and five interceptions in 14 games. He took an unofficial visit to Seattle on the weekend of Jan. 21 and set a commitment date just six days later.
“I think he fits in really well [at Washington] in that he can make all the throws on the route tree, and I think he’s a guy that’s going to continue to get better,” Huffman said. “He’s one of those rare 16-year-old quarterbacks that’s a junior in high school.”
Added Mack: “After my visit with coach DeBoer and coach Grubb, it really opened my eyes to something new. Especially with my relationship with coach DeBoer, I’ve known him since spring ball last year. So really since then I’ve really been feeling that connection. I’m ready to get there and get to work.”
He won’t be the only one working. Mack is the latest entrant in a rare two-quarterback class, with three-star 2024 Garfield quarterback EJ Caminong already committed. (Three-star Henderson, Nevada, athlete Landon Bell rounds out the Huskies’ 2024 class thus far.)
UW is sensibly rebuilding its quarterback room, which lost redshirt sophomore Sam Huard (who transferred to Cal Poly) and incoming freshman Lincoln Kienholz (who flipped to Ohio State) this offseason. That leaves the Huskies with just two scholarship quarterbacks entering the spring — sixth-year senior Michael Penix Jr. and fifth-year junior Dylan Morris.
Simply put, the Huskies need numbers. But will further additions yield additional subtractions?
“The inherent risk is that you only have one starting quarterback, and the last time Washington did that where they brought in two quarterbacks in the same class [Jacob Sirmon and Colson Yankoff in 2018] they both went into the portal,” Huffman said. “It’s not as common in this day and age, where quarterbacks want to play, and they want to play now.
“This year UCLA signed two quarterbacks — Dante Moore, who’s probably an early playing time guy, and Luke Duncan, who probably understands he’s more of a developmental guy. So if you can get one of the quarterbacks to understand you might be more of a long-term play rather than an immediate play, then it’s great.”
Caminong’s commitment is additionally important as it relates to UW’s in-state recruiting in the 2024 class. The Huskies have offered 11 players from the state of Washington (the third highest of any state), including seven four-star recruits: O’Dea running back Jason Brown, Bellevue tight end (and Michigan commit) Hogan Hansen, Evergreen offensive tackle (and Oregon commit) Fox Crader, Highline safety Marquawn McCraney, Federal Way athlete Rahshawn Clark, O’Dea offensive lineman Isendre Ahfua and Yelm linebacker Brayden Platt.
Caminong could conceivably prove a catalyst for future in-state commits.
Though a more national lens might also help the Huskies.
“It’s essential to make sure you’re still recruiting your backyard,” Huffman said. “But if you look at a big chunk of Washington’s roster this year, it’s out-of-state guys. Most of their impact players are out-of-state guys.
“It shows that the Washington brand still exists — from their New Year’s Six days, from their playoff days, from the success they had this year. With college football becoming less and less regional and more and more national, you go and get the best player available, whether he’s in your backyard or he’s across the country.”
Perhaps the best player available, in this case, was starring at a familiar high school in California.
It’s worked out well before.
The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.