Jacob Eason talks after Day 2 of UW fall camp
Senior linebacker Brandon Wellington started where everyone seems to start when it comes to Washington’s quarterback.
It’s no secret. Georgia-transfer Jacob Eason was a five-star prospect coming out of high school, a local star. Earlier this summer, his former quarterbacks coach at Lake Stevens, Lew Widmann, said Eason had “as much arm talent as anyone in the country.”
But, Wellington said, you don’t understand — not really — until you see it in person.
“He makes 60-yard bombs look like it’s nothing,” Wellington said earlier this week. “It’s like a warm-up throw to him. When he’s really on, it’s dangerous.”
UW head coach Chris Petersen has been working diligently to set, and demand, reasonable expectations for Eason. Not an easy task when you’re talking about one of the most anticipated debuts in years. But when the Huskies take the field for Saturday’s home opener, all Petersen’s asking for is some perspective.
“(Expectations) can be detrimental when things get out of whack,” Petersen said. “I think things have gotten out of whack with him. He’s going to be a really great player, but he’s a college player … that’s developing and figuring things out. And I think we need to keep that perspective.”
Petersen and the Huskies already have their own opinions on Eason. They’ve had front-row seats since he arrived on campus. So on Thursday, two days before Eason’s UW debut, Petersen was asked to share his thoughts. What is it, came the question, that Eason does best?
The answer was as direct as it was unsurprising.
“I think throw the ball,” Petersen said. “He can stand there and the ball comes out quickly and he can see things different than most. I think that’s what looks different from a lot of quarterbacks that we’ve been around. I think that’s what’s different about him.”
But Petersen was quick to remind the gathered reporters that Eason has only really played one year of college football. He started at Georgia as a true freshman in 2016, completing 204-of-370 passes for 2,430 yards and 16 touchdowns with eight interceptions. He then suffered an injury in the season-opener in 2017 and never regained the starting job.
Fans have been talking about Eason’s potential since the moment he decided to transfer to the Huskies in January 2018. At 6 feet, 6 inches and 227 pounds, he certainly looks the part. During his high school career, Eason passed for 9,813 yards and 102 touchdowns. He was the 2015 national and state Gatorade Player of the Year.
For two offseasons, Eason’s teammates have been watching him run offenses: first as the scout team quarterback and now as the starter. There is nobody better fit to evaluate the Huskies’ quarterback than the Huskies themselves.
So as much as fans are looking forward to watching Eason play on Saturday, senior defensive back Myles Bryant might be just as excited. Asked for his scouting report, Bryant echoed the words of Wellington and his head coach.
“Just his ability to pinpoint the ball wherever he wants it,” Bryant said. “His ability to even throw it out of the pocket. He’s not that fast of a guy but he can still get out the pocket and throw it accurately. That’s pretty impressive.”
You don’t have to tell senior wide receiver Aaron Fuller about Eason’s arm. While Fuller missed spring practice after undergoing what Petersen dubbed a minor procedure, he’s been on the other side of Eason’s throws throughout fall camp.
“His arm talent is amazing,” Fuller said. “Those deep balls, just lasering one in there throughout the middle. It’s kind of cool to see. It’ll be great to see on Saturdays how he plays.”
If there’s one thing Fuller has quickly learned one thing about Eason, it’s this: he’s going to fit the ball through tight windows.
“You got to make those tough catches and things like that. … He’s going to get on you fast so you better be prepared for it and ready to run,” Fuller said.
Before this season, Jake Browning had been the starting quarterback for the entirety of Nick Harris’ UW career. But now the center is entering his senior year and there is a new player taking command of the offense. Eason is even-keeled, Harris said. Composed. Detailed. He’s not fiery like Browning, but the two quarterbacks are similar in one important way.
“They just know how to run the huddle and they know how to run the offense,” Harris said. “Their demeanors are just a little different.”
As Eason learned the playbook, Fuller watched his confidence grow. He feels comfortable with the offense now, Fuller said, and it shows.
Bryant has noticed the difference, too.
“I feel like him growing as a leader has kind of helped him transcend from last year to this year,” Bryant said. “I’m just excited to see what he does this upcoming year.”