Here are 10 things to know about Jacob Eason, the 5-star from Lake Stevens, Wash., who is UGA’s highest-rated quarterback recruit since Matt Stafford.
Here’s a photo gallery of Eason as well.
(Note: I spent last week in Washington observing Eason during his spring practices. I’m putting together a print story for Sunday’s edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and emptying out my notebook. That’s where this list comes from)
1. The hype: Anytime a 5-star recruit signs with any college, fans of that school have sky-high expectations right off the bat. Because of the hype, there are surely people out there who might think Eason should accomplish at least these three things as a freshman: Win the starting QB job, win the Heisman, and quarterback the Bulldogs to a national title. “They are going to hype me up a lot (because of the rankings and media attention), but that’s out of my control,” he said. “There’s nothing I can do about that. My only goal is to go compete down there, and see what happens. I look at it all (rankings), but I really don’t take it for what it is. It just makes me want to work harder to stay where I’m at basically. I just try to focus on being at Lake Stevens, and helping our team win games. I don’t want my head to get too big, otherwise people will despise you. I like to stay humble, stay grounded, and work with the guys on my team. And then when that opportunity presents itself to go to Georgia, then I will work hard and start off the way I started here (at Lake Stevens) and try to build on that.”
2. His own expectations: What are realistic goals for Eason as a freshman at UGA? He will enroll in January. “I want to go into spring camp and just compete with the guys there. I just want to mix in, work hard, and earn my way. If I become the starter, then I become the starter. That’s up to the coaches to decide. But if I become a backup behind whoever is there, then I will still love being there. And I will just keep working hard and competing to be the starter, just like any quarterback would. Every guy wants the chance to start. That’s what everybody works toward. I’m just going to go there and go work hard.”
3. The Matt Stafford connection: Eason’s is UGA’s highest-rated QB recruit since Matt Stafford. And Eason is a Stafford fan. “I got his jersey. He is one of the guys I like watching, because he’s a risky playmaker is what I see him as. He is going to have a check down, but he’s also going to have a guy 50 yards down the field with a tight window. He’s going to take that shot. That’s why I like watching him. He’s an edge-of-your-seat type of guy.” And what about those comparisons some have made between Eason and Stafford out of high school? “It’s an honor for anybody to be compared to Stafford, but I take all of that with a grain of salt. That’s one of the things I strive to be. But I definitely don’t see me as that now. Those are the type of things that motivate me to keep working and to get better.” Eason said he has never met Stafford, but hopes that he will after he reports to UGA.
4. Calm demeanor: One of the first things that you notice about Eason is that he’s not the rah-rah type of quarterback. I mean, he will raise his voice to call out signals and to line up his teammates in the right formation before the snap. But other than that … he’s unusually kind of quiet for being such a high-profile QB prospect. You obviously know he’s there because he’s 6-5 — and taller (by a few inches) than anybody else on the team. But he tries his best to blend in with his teammates. I rarely saw him take of his helmet at practices and at the scrimmage, even though fans and cameras were following him around. He knows he’s an attention-grabber (that’s unavoidable), but he doesn’t go out of his way to bring attention to himself. “That’s not my style (with all the hollering and screaming),” he said. “Respect is a big thing for me. ‘You can’t get respect if you don’t give respect’ is one of things I like to think about, too.”
5. Why UGA? It’s still surreal that UGA went to the other side of the country – all the way to Washington – to both find the No. 1 QB and successfully secure him. How did it happen? What’s the real story? “When you are in my shoes, and with the way Georgia presents itself … I don’t know what it was,” Eason said. “It was a feeling. Everything about it felt right, and I felt right going to Georgia. That’s why I committed there. It was the best decision that I’ve made in a while.” Why commit during his first-ever visit to UGA? Why not wait and think about it? Did he think another QB might take his spot? “I heard talk, and I’m not sure if it was factual, that they were going to wait to on me to see what I do, and then start offering other guys. I was like ‘Georgia feels so right. I feel right at home.’ I wanted to make the decision final. So I did.”
6. The OC change: What’s maybe most remarkable about Eason’s commitment is that he didn’t even appear to blink an eye when UGA changed offensive coordinators. Many times, a coaching change like that would send elite quarterbacks running for the hills. So why didn’t it with Eason? One reason: Mark Richt. “With Coach Richt, it’s hard not to trust a guy like that. I knew he was going to get a good guy, and that’s what he did. Coach Schottenhiemr didn’t skip a beat, and I still stay in touch with Coach Bobo at Colorado State. I wish him the best of luck there. He is a great guy. With Schottenhiemer or Bobo, I would still have gone to UGA because Coach Richt was there. I believe in him. He’s a family guy. He has good faith, and he has good moral values. Those are things I look up to. The coaching staff, the players, the fan base, and the community – it’s all top-notch at UGA.”
7. Fourth time is a charm: Eason committed to UGA the first time he visited for last July’s Dawg Night prospect camp, he went back to meet Schottenheimer this spring, and he’ll return to Dawg Night next month. When will Eason take his official visit to UGA? There’s only a small window because he’s an early enrollee. The date that is the most attractive would be the Oct. 3 home game against Alabama. “I don’t know when I’ll take my official,” he said. “I don’t think I have a bye week during the season. If I can take an official visit down there, I will obviously go down there for that. I’m not sure when it will be right now.” The most likely date will be for UGA’s annual awards banquet in early December.
8. Comfort at a distance: Eason is comfortable with the idea of going so far away for college. “It’s just one of those things in life, if you’re going to have an opportunity, you’ve got to take it. You really can’t pass up a college like Georgia when you’re in my position. If it means going far away from home, then that’s the case. I’m excited. You know, my mom is going to have to deal with it. That’s the downside. But other than that, everything is an upside.” During the week, there were several of Jacob’s friends and teammates that told me that they were apprehensive about him going so far away. Jacob’s response? “Yeah, I hear that sometimes from friends and family in the hometown. I don’t feel the same way about them. I’ve got my life to live, and they’ve got their life to live. Everybody has their own paths. Mine is going across the country to play football, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
9. The comfort factor: The main reason that Eason is comfortable with going so far away is that his father did the same thing. Tony Eason is also from Washington, and signed up to play football far away at Notre Dame. “That makes me feel a lot more comfortable,” Jacob said. “He has told me stories. He had a great time going away for college. That was one of the best times of his life, as it is for everybody. With the stories that he has told, I’m sure I’m going to have a great time at Georgia and get in a lot of work down there.” His father agrees that his own experience has encouraged his son: “We’re cut from the same cloth really. He’s my son. He’s my flesh and blood. He knows that I went off to college. That’s part of it, I don’t know … but I’m sure that’s in the back of his mind. He has traveled all around the country to camps. He started to do that when he was 16 years old, so he’s not afraid to get on plane by himself now. I just think it’s a transition phase for the next stage of his life. I’m just so excited for him. Georgia is such a good fit for him socially, academically, football-wise, and all the way around. I can’t wait for him to get down there. I think people are going to love him down there when they get to know him. I’m sure it’s not going to be all roses. When he throws his first pick, we’ll see who is still on the bandwagon. I just can’t wait. I’m so happy for him, and feel so blessed that he developed the talent that the Good Lord gave him to be the position that he is.”
10. Close-knit family: Jacob has an older brother who wrestled at Lake Stevens a few years ago, and a younger sister who is promising freshman volleyball player. His father works for a local fire department, and also serves as an assistant football coach at Lake Stevens. “He has been the No. 1 guy in my life, as my mentor and as my father,” Jacob said of his father. “He has taught me everything he knows on and off the field. He has put everything in me so that when I leave the house I can be everything that I am supposed to be. And I just can’t thank him enough. He has been for me through my recruiting, through my grades, and with teaching me life lessons, such as how to treat women with respect and all of those things. He keeps my faith straight. I wouldn’t be where I am without him. Hopefully, I can get to the point one day where I can repay him. That would mean so much to me.” Eason on his mother: “She is there for me, too. My dad is most honest and to-the-point guy that I know. He will get on me for all the little things, which is great. If I mess up, he’ll know how to fix it. My mom … I can talk to my mom just as much as dad. She is always going to be there for me with open arms. And that’s going to be one of the hard things with me leaving for Georgia – my mom. But we’re both going to have to deal with it.”
Watch the below video to hear about Jacob Eason’s turning point, via Lake Stevens quarterback coach Lew Widmann: