Get ready Snohomish County, the fate of the University of Washington football team rests in the hands of one of your own.
The Huskies are giving the ball to the pride of Lake Stevens this season, as Lake Stevens High School graduate Jacob Eason was named Washington’s starting quarterback for the 2019 season on Friday. The announcement came eight days before the Huskies open the campaign against Eastern Washington this Saturday at Husky Stadium.
Eason, who was named the 2015-16 Gatorade National Football Player of the Year following his season season at Lake Stevens, is a rare talent. At 6-foot-6 he has the size coaches want at quarterback, and he’s considered to have one of the best arms in the country. He was courted by all the nation’s top programs while he was in high school, and he started for Georgia as a true freshman.
However, Eason suffered a minor knee injury early in his sophomore season, and Jake Fromm stepped in and took the starting job away, prompting Eason to transfer to Washington.
The assumption all along had been that Eason, who has junior eligibility after redshirting last season, would succeed four-year starter Jake Browning as Washington’s No. 1. However, Huskies coach Chris Petersen was insistent all offseason that the job wasn’t just being handed to Eason, that whichever quarterback played the best in practice would be the starter. Peterson finally put that question to rest Friday when he announced Eason as the starter.
Though Eason was named starter, Petersen made a point of saying that sophomore Jake Haener would also get playing time. One day later the school announced that Haener was leaving the program. So Eason’s main competition is no longer around. It also leaves just three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster, the other two being redshirt freshman Jacob Sirmon — who entered the transfer portal himself in the spring, but reconsidered — and true freshman Dylan Morris.
So not only is Eason now the starter, he’s going to have a long leash because the Huskies don’t have many alternatives.
The question now is how will Eason perform? In his freshman season at Georgia he was 204-for-370 for 2,430 yards and 16 touchdowns versus eight interceptions. While those numbers may not blow people away, they were promising for a true freshman playing in the SEC.
And Eason will get his chance to throw the ball. While Petersen has a reputation for being a razzle-dazzle play caller, his Washington teams have actually made a point of establishing the run. But he still calls plenty of passes — Browning had at least 336 pass attempts in each of his four seasons as starter — and he won’t have the reliable Myles Gaskin to lean on in the run game.
So let’s try and predict how Eason will produce.
Let’s use touchdown passes as the gauge. Browning, in his four seasons as Washington’s starter, threw 16, 43, 19 and 16 touchdown passes. That’s pretty consistent, with his sophomore season being a big outlier when he had the receiving pair of John Ross and Dante Pettis to throw to.
Eason doesn’t appear to have a Ross- or Pettis-type receiver to target, unless someone breaks out in a big way. But what he will have as an option is a potential game-breaking tight end. The Huskies hope Hunter Bryant is back at full strength after recovering from knee injuries. When Bryant was a freshman in 2017 he had future star written all over him before he suffered the first of his knee injuries. If he’s back to being that player it gives Eason a huge weapon in the passing game.
So how many touchdown passes do you think the former Lake Stevens Vikings star will throw for Washington this season? Make your prediction here: