Editor’s note: The star attraction of Dawg Night 2015 was the healthy competition between elite quarterbacks Jacob Eason and Bailey Hockman. Both committed to UGA. Eason is rising senior from Lake Stevens, Wash., and rated 2016’s No. 1 overall QB. Hockman is a left-handed junior from McEachern High School who is ranked as the country’s No. 2 quarterback for 2017. The two celebrity recruits were followed and observed by the biggest crowds of Dawg Night, including UGA’s Nick Chubb. Here’s a closer look at how they performed:
Jacob Eason let a pass fly. He was all arm and legs. Bailey Hockman was next. The rising junior 4-star passer had Terminator eyes.
UGA offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was on a knee. The DVR in his brain had its red light on.
Eason would take a rep and let one go. Hockman would jump up to the line and also earn nods from onlookers with his work, too. Hockman followed Eason on seemingly every throw.
Was it already 2017 and both quarterbacks were at UGA pushing one another atop the depth chart? It was not. It was just a sneak preview of good things to come at the quarterback position for UGA.
Don’t judge a book by its cover? What’s the football version of that? Do judge a quarterback by his demeanor? If so, then that would apply to Eason and Hockman at Dawg Night.
Eason was mostly smiles and flapping curls in the wind. He wore a baseball cap with the logo of a popular downtown Athens restaurant.
Hockman was strapped in his helmet with a laser’s focus. He’s a coach’s son. His curls were hidden. It was exactly how a guy who already knew what a Cover-2 was back in the first grade was supposed to look.
These two were already competing. Every throw was being filmed and often tweeted out.
Eason flashed an arm that had a catapult’s range. Hockman was right there with him with a trigger which was capable of 88 mph fastballs for his U-13 baseball team.
Both dealt with drops. Both overthrew a few guys. Both actually looked over their shoulders and saw an extremely capable 2018 prospect. Cartersville’s Trevor Lawrence showed he belonged in the quarterback succession plan at UGA.
Eason’s father Tony noted his son was there to show off a big arm to lure a few of the elite receivers on hand to join him. The timing wasn’t always there, but he was throwing to one of the fastest recruits in America in Elberton’s Mecole Hardman, Jr, too.
Hockman came next, but he did not get swallowed up in Eason’s wake.
“Bailey is the man, too,” Hardman said. “He’s just a junior coming up and already doing big things. You can’t ask any more from that man than what he’s doing right now. I don’t think it is his place yet right now to compete with Jacob. … He’s not in the same grade with Eason right now but he was competing right with him at Dawg Night. There’s no big drop-off between the two of them.”
Here’s this from 4-star Florida tight end Jacob Mathis: “Bailey for the most part was putting the balls away from defenders and making the right reads. He was able to fit some balls into tight windows.”
That’s the same guy who said he already knew how Eason “can sling it like nobody’s business” before he came to Dawg Night.
Pair that up with another nugget of analysis from 4-star athlete Deejay Dallas: “Bailey (Hockman) throws the deep ball well and throws the short stuff well, too. He’s accurate. He’s not a big quarterback, but he throws it like a big quarterback. He plays bigger than he is.”
Trevor Lawrence also earned his UGA offer from his work that night. A good reason was he might have been the most consistent passer of the three at Dawg Night. He also showed remarkable maturity when he left Dawg Night without an initial offer.
Another morsel of his evaluation was a rising sophomore threw right after Eason and Hockman and gave onlookers their own positive exclamation when he threw.
When Eason threw it was: “Wow, his arm is a cannon.”
Hockman’s reps were like: “His arm is right there with him. He can make all those throws, too.”
When Mr. Class of 2018 came up it was: “That’s guys a sophomore? He looks like just the other two.”
Another element of intrigue was that for several of the camp’s periods their fathers were paired up, too. Tony Eason was on the left. Kyle Hockman – the head coach at McEachern – was on the right.
“I thought they both got along well and threw it around well,” Tony Eason said. “Jacob told me that he was a really nice guy. He liked the guy. Good dude. He liked being around him during the weekend. No problems.”
It was no secret both wanted their boys to show the future looked bright for the quarterbacks at UGA. They clearly did.
Lawrence’s assessment of the two was revealing. He belonged in the same conversation with the top-rated QB of 2016 and the No. 2 guy for 2017.
“They both throw the deep ball really well,” Lawrence said. “They both have really strong arms, but the only difference I saw was that Jacob was a little more consistent but they are both really good quarterbacks. Jacob is what everyone expects him to be with that ranking, but Bailey can also really play. I was very impressed with him, too.”
Can a school known for its tradition of running backs be turning into another assembly line for big-time QBs? Can UGA become a Quarterback U. and continue the legacy established by Eric Zeier, David Greene, Matthew Stafford and Aaron Murray?
Jeff Sentell covers UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.