Coach's Corner

All right, I'm selfish. I'm not ready to stop cheering for Jake Locker, and now I really hope the Seattle Seahawks take him with their first round pick. There can't be many Northwest football fans who don't appreciate the great sacrifices Jake made for Husky football. He carried the torch of hope when Washington went through its lowest of lows as a program.

He led them out of pigskin purgatory and finished his senior year in heroic fashion. He is the perfect piece for Pete Carroll's puzzle.

Like many of you, I got to watch the Jon Gruden ESPN special on quarterbacks, and his in-depth interview with Jake (twice). It was excellent from the football standpoint, but even better from the personal side. Coach Gruden asked Jake some interesting questions about his toughness and, while kidding him about using his right shoulder to run over an opponent, also questioned his judgment. I know this: I'll never question his courage.

That happens to be one of the things that I like best about Jake. He plays football with a contact mentality. I thought he was a great safety in high school and have always appreciated that he was a physical runner. That's just what he did. He liked contact and, like Marques Tuiasosopo before him at Washington, that's what made him a special leader.

Marques, too, could hit with the best of them. He rarely backed down at the moment of contact either. I think that's contagious for your team. That's a great reason why teams with tough quarterbacks end up winning.

People rarely think of quarterbacks as tough guys, but I've always thought that toughness is as much mental as it is physical. The best players at the quarterback position are usually some of the toughest competitors. They want to win at everything and will run over you to do so. The great ones never think about getting hurt. Maybe it's luck, but maybe it's just plain toughness - combined with excellent conditioning and anticipation.

Now I realize that once you get to the professional level as a quarterback, you need to protect yourself by bailing out early, but I also know every quarterback who led us to a Rose Bowl win was a tough guy.

The Seattle Seahawks might not even have a chance to take him, but if somehow he slips to them at number 25, you have to think that coach Sarkisian and coach Carroll have talked this one out. Of course, coach Carroll passed on another local product who had actually played for him at USC, Taylor Mays, so he could pass here as well.

Regardless, I think Pete knows as much as he needs to know about Jake, and adding a winner to his locker room is always a plus move.

Jake Locker finished his career as a winner. He completed his degree and led his team to a bowl victory. He certainly cemented himself as a future Husky Hall of Famer. He was arguably the face of the franchise for five years, and wouldn't it be special if the Seahawks picked him to become Matt Hasselbeck's successor?

Hasselbeck will still need to re-sign, and quarterback is also a position of need because even if they extend Matt's contract, it would only be for three years or so, and that is easily enough time for them to get Jake ready if Charlie Whitehurst doesn't pan out.

Locker would not have to come in and start. He would only need to watch, listen, and learn. Even if the Seahawks are unable to come to terms with Hasselbeck they will still have Locker as a back-up to Whitehurst. He would be a strategic pick at the most important position in football.

There are many other reasons Locker would not only be a great pickup for Seattle, but also a smart choice:

There is no question about Jake Locker's character.

There is no question about his arm strength.

There is no question he has all the throws.

There is no question about his speed.

There is no question about his running ability.

There is no question about his community commitment, especially at home.

This is an absolute win-win situation.

I don't want to hear the "He has to get away" argument. That's so unfair to us fans. Are you telling me I wouldn't want to watch Tim Lincecum at Safeco Field right now? It's a different sport, but the exact same scenario.

How bad would it hurt if they pass on Jake and he ends up being another Aaron Rodgers down the road? There is no more pressure for playing in your own home town then there is playing thousands of miles away. Locker - just like the rest of any team he ends up playing for - will win or lose based on what happens on the field, not off it.

I loved it when Warren Moon returned to play quarterback for the 'Hawks, but I wished it happened 10 years earlier. You play between the lines. On the field that is - not state lines, or city lines, but the lines on the grid. Every high school football player in America plays in his own home town, and there are lots of players at both the collegiate and professional levels that have had success playing in their home towns, including Locker - if you consider Seattle close enough to Ferndale.

It just seems to me that this is such a unique opportunity for the home town team to take a home town hero. Besides, think of Ferndale and what it would do for that community!

Come to think of it, who am I kidding? I don't care about Ferndale - and I know the Seahawks can't base a first-round pick on something so trivial - but I do care about Jake Locker. Selfishly as a fan, I want to continue to follow his career.

It may be a bit unfair for me to say this, but it's just so obvious that he never had the surrounding cast when he played at Washington, and any evaluation of his potential is obviously influenced by that fact. I think people are starting to see that now when they take a real close look.

Just as obvious is that he could be taken before the Seahawks even get a chance to use their pick, so if that's the case it would make the whole scenario moot. But I'd be just as happy, because that meant Jake was a first-round draft pick.


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