SEATTLE — The only buzz bigger than the recruitment of Jacob Eason is the buzz about where the former five-star recruit will go to school in 2018.
The Georgia quarterback and Washington native told reporters before the Rose Bowl he hadn’t considered leaving the school but it is widely expected he will not be in Athens next season after being supplanted by Jake Fromm.
Should Eason depart, there will be several schools interested. And the favorite could be the Huskies.
“I still anticipate he will ask for his release, win or lose,” Brandon Huffman, who is the national college football recruiting editor for 247 Sports, told The News Tribune before Monday night’s national championship game. “I don’t anticipate Eason sticking around. He’s going to look at Pac-12 North schools. … I would expect him to end up at a Pac-12 North school.”
The “Eason-To-UW” chatter has been building for some time.
UW lost out on Eason, who is from Lake Stevens, back in 2016. He signed with Georgia, a program he committed to in 2014, and then won eight games as a true freshman, throwing for 2,430 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Eason began the year as Georgia’s starter but was hurt in the first quarter of the season opener. Fromm replaced him and led the Bulldogs to a 31-10 victory, and then guided Georgia to a 20-19 win at Notre Dame.
Eason has thrown just a few passes since then as Fromm, a freshman, emerged as the team’s No. 1 option. Fromm passed for 2,615 yards and 24 TDs this season and led Georgia to the College Football Playoff title game, a 26-23 OT loss to Alabama.
The two coaches who recruited Eason — Mike Bobo and Mark Richt — are no longer at Georgia. Kirby Smart is the Bulldogs coach and has made a point of keeping the state’s best talent from leaving. Fromm is from Warner Robins, Georgia.
“When (Fromm) goes to Notre Dame and beats Notre Dame, I looked right there … and looked at upcoming games,” said KJR 950 AM analyst and former NFL quarterback Hugh Millen. “(Georgia) was playing Samford next and I thought this guy is going to get on a big winning streak and they’re not going back to Eason.”
If that weren’t enough, the Bulldogs have even more talent waiting in the wings. Smart signed five-star quarterback Justin Fields in December. At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, Field is the consensus No. 2 player in the nation.
Mike Farrell, the national recruiting director at Rivals, said for Smart, or any coach in any state, they have to be concerned about appearances.
“If Georgia doesn’t go into the state of Washington (to recruit) after this, it does not care,” he said. “If they screw over two local kids, they’re going to hear about it every day. That all plays into the paranoia … (Eason’s) gotta think his future is not in Georgia.”
Several schools could be in play for Eason. Huffman said Colorado State and Miami will not be among those options because Bobo is the head coach at CSU and Richt is at Miami. Huffman said Smart, should he grant Eason’s release, will include a provision preventing him from transferring to CSU, Miami or any other SEC school.
Huffman noted other schools such as California or Oregon State could be in play. Cal coach Justin Wilcox and OSU coach Jonathan Smith are former Chris Petersen assistants with ties to the state of Washington.
That said, Huffman said he believes UW has the strongest odds of landing Eason.
Eason would have to sit out the 2018 season, per NCAA transfer rules. That would give him a year to learn and provide the Huskies flexibility after Jake Browning graduates.
UW signed four-star QB prospects Jacob Sirmon and Colson Yankoff as part of its 2018 recruiting class.
“It would be huge for them,” Huffman said. “You would not have to immediately turn it over to Yankoff or Sirmon.”
Millen also said Eason fits under Petersen’s “Our Kinda Guy” model also known as “OKG.” The philosophy is designed to develop players Petersen feels have high character.
Huffman said the ability to learn from Petersen and Bush Hamdan, who will be UW’s offensive coordinator next season, for a year will help.
“Eason was thrown to the wolves and still won eight games,” Farrell said. “If you’re Petersen and not interested, you’re crazy. I know you have two, four-star quarterbacks in the class. They’re guys you like.
“But when a former five-star who has shown he can win in tough scenarios comes around, you’re taking him.”