Washington Huskies quarterback Jacob Eason high-fives a fan as he walks onto the field before a game against Oregon on Oct. 19, 2019, in Seattle. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

Washington Huskies quarterback Jacob Eason high-fives a fan as he walks onto the field before a game against Oregon on Oct. 19, 2019, in Seattle. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

On draft day, Lake Stevens star QB Eason awaits call to NFL

Experts predict UW alum Jacob Eason will be selected after Thursday’s first round. But who knows?

LAKE STEVENS — From the time he was a Lake Stevens High School sophomore, Jacob Eason seemed destined to be an NFL quarterback.

Supremely talented, nationally lauded, he was on the fast track to the pros.

In coming days, or maybe hours, his dream becomes a reality.

The first round of the NFL draft begins at 5 p.m. Thursday and goes on for three days. And for Eason the question isn’t if he’s going to be picked, it’s when and by whom.

”It’s awesome for Jacob, he’s worked so hard to get to this point,” said his father, Tony Eason. “It’ll be a day to celebrate. But when he wakes up the next day, it will be time to go to work. It’s like everything else he’s done, such as when he signed his college letter of intent. It’s awesome, but it’s just the beginning.”

Eason is one of a handful of Snohomish County natives who could hear their names called in this year’s draft. Eason is undoubtedly the headliner. The strong-armed quarterback, who entered the draft following his junior season at the University of Washington, is projected to go during Friday night’s second or third rounds. But there’s an outside chance he could go late in Thursday’s first round.

Eason, who has been working out in Irvine, California, where his agency, Rep1, is based, was one of 58 players invited to participate virtually in ABC’s and ESPN’s television coverage of the draft.

Eason’s selection will be the next benchmark for a player who was named the 2015 Gatorade National Player of the Year during his senior year at Lake Stevens; started as a true freshman in the football-mad SEC while playing for Georgia in 2016; and threw for 3,132 yards and 23 touchdowns the past season for Washington.

This moment has been a long time coming. Lake Stevens football coach Tom Tri saw the seeds the summer before Eason’s freshman year in high school.

“I knew of him, I knew his dad, and knew he’d be a good football player,” Tri said. “But I didn’t know how good until we played a seven-on-seven tournament at Lakewood High School going into his freshman year.

“We actually had a different quarterback, Gavin O’Neil, but Gavin had a baseball tournament and had to cancel the day before the seven-on-seven,” Tri continued. “So we called up Jacob Eason, who was only going to be a ninth grader and barely knew what we did. So we went out and played the seven-on-seven without a lot of expectations, and the next thing you knew we were playing King’s (High School) in the finals when they had their stud quarterback Billy Green, who went to BYU.

“We lost the championship game 49-42 after going 6-0 throughout the day, beating teams the likes of Bothell, and I realized right then and there that we had a quarterback who was going to be good for the next four years.”

Eason is ranked No. 55 on CBSsports.com’s big board, No. 64 by NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah and No. 92 by ESPN’s Jeff Legwold. But Eason has the raw tools — a 6-foot-6, 231-pound frame NFL scouts crave in pocket passers, and an arm that’s considered the strongest in the draft class — where a team may be willing to take a chance on Eason earlier in the draft.

“Whenever my name gets called it will be an awesome moment,” Eason said during the NFL Scouting Combine in late February in Indianapolis. “It’s something I grew up dreaming about, having my named called on that podium and getting selected by a team.

“It will be a blessing.”

A blessing Eason has been waiting for his whole life, and one that could happen as early as Thursday.

Nick Patterson: 425-339-3470; npatterson@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @NickHPatterson

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