Jake Browning’s recovery from offseason shoulder surgery has not taken long, all things considered. He had the procedure in January, spent the first portion of spring practice as an interested bystander and is now participating at a level close to normal for a starting quarterback.
Still, the relatively little bystanding required of Washington’s junior signal-caller has instilled a greater appreciation for being able to take his standard number of repetitions during drills and 11-on-11 periods.
“I probably could’ve gone even a little bit sooner,” Browning said of resuming his usual throwing routine, “but you want to take those things slow and not rush it.”
His shoulder, he said, is “pain free,” and the rehabilitation process has gone “exactly how it’s supposed to.” He likened the gradual build-up this spring to that of a sprinter taking a three-month break from training: his arm feels fine, but he needs to regain some strength.
“That’s kind of where I’m at right now, just getting my body used to a high volume of throws,” Browning said. “But like I said, it’s going how it’s supposed to. I’m happy to be back out there. It sucks watching. And I’m pretty happy with where it’s at.”
The most interesting revelation to come out of Browning’s Wednesday media session — his first of the spring — was his admission that he faced a “bigger, faster, stronger” defense in UW’s 24-7 loss to Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinals.
Browning, who won Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year, broke several UW passing records and finished sixth in last year’s Heisman Trophy voting, said that game — in which he was sacked five times and completed 20 of 38 passes for 150 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions — inspired him to spend more time in the weight room.
“I think freshman year going to my sophomore year, my freshman season I had a bunch of mental busts and I was throwing some of these picks where they tricked me,” Browning said. “So I thought, ‘OK, film is what I need to get better at.’ And I think, obviously, you still have to watch film (now), but if I have 30 minutes of extra time, it’s probably, ‘OK, I’m going to do some weight room stuff and eat healthier,’ and stuff like that.”
The nutrition aspect, he said, might be most important.
“I know from seeing Budda (Baker) and those guys going to the NFL, something they had to change right away was they were on top of their nutrition a lot more,” said Browning, who trends skinny at an official height and weight of 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds. “So that’s something I try to do, because it’s something I never did. I just ate whatever.”
Browning had nothing to say about the circumstances that led to his shoulder injury. It reportedly occurred in UW’s Nov. 19 victory over Arizona State, the second-to-last game of the regular season, and he played through it thereafter.
UW coach Chris Petersen has described the surgery as “minor.” Browning didn’t want to describe it at all.
“I’m not going to talk about last season’s stats, last season’s wins. I’m not going talk about any injury,” he said. “We’re on to next year, and that’s this year. … I’m trying to get better right now.”