The Seahawks’ Pete Carroll likes to preach “always compete,” but it would be UW’s Chris Petersen taking that to an extreme. He’ll have starter Jake Browning returning in 2018, freshmen Jacob Sirmon and Colson Yankoff in the picture next season, and presumably Eason in 2019.
On July 19, 2014, in the summer before his junior year at Lake Stevens High School, quarterback Jacob Eason tweeted news of his verbal commitment to play for the University of Georgia. He capped his announcement with #GoDawgs and #DawgNation.
It appears that those hashtags will still be relevant, despite signs that Eason is leaving Georgia after his second season in Athens. Our Adam Jude is reporting that barring a change of heart, Eason is expected to transfer to Washington, which recruited him hard during his storied high-school career.
That would add a fascinating and potentially explosive dimension to the Huskies’ burgeoning quarterback situation, which can only be described as an embarrassment of riches. For now, anyway. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll likes to preach the “always compete” mantra, but it would be the other “Coach Pete” in town (UW’s Chris Petersen) taking that concept to its extreme.
He’ll have four-year starter Jake Browning returning for his senior season in 2018. He’ll have the two incoming freshman hotshots — Jacob Sirmon and Colson Yankoff, both of whom are top-100 recruits — in the picture next season and beyond. And now, added to the mix once he fulfills his mandatory redshirt season next year, presumably would be Eason, who was considered by many to be the nation’s top QB recruit in the high-school class of 2015. We won’t even get into current backups or the four-star commit Dylan Morris out of Graham-Kapowsin committed to come aboard in 2019.
It would be a pickle, but a good pickle. Just ask Urban Meyer, who in 2015 had Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones all on Ohio State’s roster — one of whom had been a two-time Big Ten offensive player of the year, one of whom had finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy balloting, and one of whom had led the Buckeyes to a national title.
That’s not to say this UW group will prove to be of that stature, just that there’s nothing wrong with stockpiling talent. In fact, if Petersen wants the Huskies to take that mystical next step, this is the sort of big-boy move that could provide the nudge.
Sure, it might well be awkward for the parties involved. If Washington does indeed land Eason, it couldn’t sit well with Sirmon and Yankoff, who figured to battle it out for the right to succeed Browning in 2019, with the prospect of four years on the job (or fewer, if they commit early to the NFL).
Now it’s conceivable that Eason holds down the job in 2019 and ‘20, leaving just a maximum of two years as a starter for those two incoming freshmen. No one would be shocked to see one of them, whoever is the odd man out, eventually transfer — but that was always a possibility.
In a more positive light, it sets up the Huskies with quality quarterback play — or at least the potential for it — for years to come. Eason easily could have been the one to lead Georgia to the great heights it achieved this year, capped by an appearance in the title game and an overtime loss to Alabama, had things broken differently.
But after a promising freshman season — which included 309 passing yards against Missouri, 346 against Vanderbilt and 208 in a victory over No. 9 Auburn — Eason sprained his left knee in Georgia’s 2017 opener against Appalachian State. By the time he regained health, replacement Jake Fromm was playing so well, and the Bulldogs rolling so nicely, that coach Kirby Smart kept things the way they were.
Now Fromm, a freshman, is ensconced in the starting job and Eason is odd man out — in much the same way that Alabama’s Jalen Hurts could well be after freshman Tua Tagovailoa rallied the Tide to victory over Georgia in overtime of the College Football Playoff title game Monday night.
Eason, who has a rocket arm and NFL frame, hardly would be the first quarterback to thrive after transferring, a list that includes Troy Aikman, Nick Foles, Ryan Mallett and a fellow named Russell Wilson. By all accounts, Eason has handled his situation with grace, supporting Fromm while staying prepared in case he was called upon.
It’s potentially a major coup for the Huskies, and one that seems well worth the would-be complications. Coming out of Lake Stevens, where he passed for 9,813 yards and 102 touchdowns in 38 games, Eason was regarded as a can’t-miss prospect and Georgia’s best quarterback recruit since Matt Stafford. Eason fell in love with the school during a campus visit and maintained his commitment even after the coach who recruited him, Mark Richt, was fired.
No one could have foreseen the twists and turns that Eason’s Georgia career would take. But if it now sends him on a U-turn back toward Puget Sound, well, it could still have a very happy ending for Eason and the Huskies.