Lights, Camera, Eason

A moment with Jacob Eason doesn’t come easy, but that moment can tell a lot of the story.

Getting to the point where we could talk with and take photos of one of the nation’s top high school quarterbacks, and likely future of Georgia football, was exhausting.

But luckily for Jacob Eason, he lives on West Coast time —11:30 p.m. in Georgia didn’t seem so bad.

After taking watching the five-star slinger in Emerson, Georgia at Flight School workouts, it was time to acquire a place to do the photo shoot (let’s not doll this up, it was a hotel room in Cartersville). We unpack the bags of camera equipment and set everything up, which meant Dean sets up 85 percent of the photoshoot while I assemble lights and text.

And then we wait. Dean drinks a Diet Coke with grenadine. I check my phone because the storm outside the hotel has me worried for our pending late-night venture back to Athens. No tornados on the horizon, but there’s a lot of red on the radar around 2 a.m.

Finally. Wearing his purple Lake Stevens jersey, baggy grey sweatpants and black low-top Chuck Taylors, Eason walks out of a conference room where he was in a social media meeting, which was part of Flight School. The Lake Stevens native says he gets the idea— the importance of social media training—but hey, no one is going to stop him from tweeting about his favorite actress, Blake Lively.

We take the escalator up to the second floor. As a storm was brewing outside, we three masterminds elect to take the lazy method that, had the electricity gone out, could’ve left the three of us trapped. This is where I note that no good decisions are made that late at night. But, as the stars align in our favor, we arrive safely.

We get to the hotel room turned photo lair.

Eason confesses that it’s “the first big photoshoot” he’s done. Little does he know that a few short months later, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Sports Illustrated will be buzzing him to get to know as much about the future Bulldog.

But at that point, the media storm of 2015 was just beginning. And well, there’s a first time for everything. Show ‘em how it’s done, Dean-O.

Amid the small talk and introductions, Dean Legge fires a test shot. The lights flash.

Click. Click.

Dean tells Eason, “just keep doing what you're doing. I won’t make you look bad.” This makes Eason (like all guys we shoot) chuckle.

Click. Click.

You expect these guys to be self-important and a little cocky. This one’s not, even though he has a lot of reasons he could be —a good-looking kid, a highly touted athlete and the perfect future candidate for SEC media days. But before all of that, he’s a junior in high school. And that describes him more than anything.

Over the course of the hour or so, the three of us burned through a plethora of topics. Occasionally Eason looks down at his biceps, squeezing them as if they are sore but it seems just like a nervous habit. He flips through a copy of Dawg Post magazine with Todd Gurley on the front, pointing out guys he’s met and other recruits he recognizes.

I ask Eason about his nickname.

While his body frame is thin and seems to be 90 percent limbs, the nickname “Skinny,” contrary to popular assumption, has nothing to do with his weight.

Eason laughed through the story of his father butchering a haircut when he was young, giving him a bald head… a skin head…. “Skinny.”

But his dad has given him more than just his nickname.

“My dad has been the biggest role model through my whole life,” Eason said.

Tony Eason, who now works for Boeing and is a volunteer firefighter, played football at Notre Dame. But he was a receiver, not a quarterback—a common confusion with former NFL quarterback Charles Carroll "Tony" Eason, IV.

Eason said his father would make him go throw the football before the school bus would pick him up for elementary school, giving him pointers on arm angle and how to get a good spin on the ball.

Eason wondered: “I didn’t know why we were doing it.”

He better understands now. The five-star phenom twirls a pigskin with ease. His rifle-like arm at the ready to deliver strikes those elicit “oohs” and “ahhs” from spectators.

Despite the fact that he’s about to move 2,700 miles from them, it’s evident that Eason is very close with his family. In fact, he beamed with the idea of his younger sister, who had just received a letter from the Bulldogs, possibly playing volleyball at Georgia.

Watch out Godwin family—there could be another brother-sister athletic duo at Georgia.

Once Eason packs up and leaves for Athens in 2016, Georgia will become his new home and the Bulldogs, his second family.

He already has somewhat of a brother in four-star offensive tackle Ben Cleveland.

The two became close throughout the recruiting process. An unlikely duo: the wakeboarding West Coast bro, and the good ole Southern boy from Toccoa, Georgia. Eason had never had Chick-Fil-A until early April this year, while Cleveland brings bags of homemade deer jerky to football camp.

They are a study in sociological differences.

And yet the two committed to Georgia together and have become close friends – even if nothing alike. And doing so before even playing one down or grinding through one practice on the same team.

Now Cleveland just needs to drag Eason to watch a game in Sanford Stadium, something the future Bulldogs’ signal-caller has yet to do.

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