Locker, Lindquist cut from similar cloth

SEATTLE - Trying to reach Jeff Lindquist on the phone, a country song pops up while I wait. I'm told it was 'Live Like You Were Dying' by Tim McGraw. I'm not surprised. Not so much by the song itself, but how the coincidences keep piling up between Lindquist and former Washington quarterback Jake Locker, picked eighth by the Tennessee Titans in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft Thursday.

McGraw is no Garth Brooks, as Locker so eloquently revealed during his impromptu karaoke version of 'Friends in Low Places' to KJR's Mitch Levy a while back - but it's clear that both quarterbacks have a soft spot for country music.

I'm keeping track of the similarities I can find between Locker and Lindquist, and while a love for country music isn't necessarily the most important consideration, it's there nonetheless. Let's call it the 'Jake Locker Comparison Checklist' - or JLCC, for short.

Or should that be the 'Jeff Lindquist Comparison Checklist'?

Your call. Either way, consider the box next to 'loves country music' ticked off.

As their respective body types suggest (Locker is 6-2.5, 231; Lindquist is 6-foot-3, 225), they are larger than life on the football field. So same size? Check. Both athletic? Check, although this box certainly comes with a disclaimer: Locker is one of the premier football athletes to come out of the state of Washington, and while it's not fair to put Lindquist in that rarified air just yet, he's checking for oxygen.

They can run and throw from the pocket with equal measure, with Jake being the better runner and Jeff the better passer at this comparative stage in their high school development. So check off those boxes too.

When asked about all these crazy comparisons, Lindquist can't help but suppress a slight chuckle, taking it all in.

"If I'm getting compared to him, then I haven't been doing too bad, he said. "He's a freakin' stud, and I'm going to have to work hard to get there. I see myself as a not-as-legit image of him yet."

A day after one career officially ends on Montlake, another began with Lindquist's verbal commitment to Steve Sarkisian and the Washington Huskies Friday over an offer from the Stanford Cardinal. And the announcement came about with as much fanfare as when Locker took his dog Ten up to the Washington football offices 17 months ago to tell the Husky coaches that he was foregoing the 2010 Draft in order to finish what he started at UW.

Lindquist did roughly the same thing - although not with the family canine in tow. He was with his parents, Tom and Juli, and they wanted to do it 'professional', to use Jeff's word. So they found Sarkisian, and gave it to him straight.

"I told him something like, 'Let's get the ball rolling'," recalled Lindquist. "Then there was a handshake and the hugs…it was really fun."

Then Sarkisian went to his favorite social media tool - Twitter - let out a few woofs, and the world figured out the rest a few minutes later.

"My buddies were flipping me crap," Lindquist said. "They were saying I needed to have an hour-long ESPN special with a bunch of hats. You need to give me a bunch of shout-outs. But that's not really me."

No it's not. Just like Jake, Jeff's manner suggests that it's in their DNA to say something in person with five words than say it on television with 10. That's a little thing called character, something a person leans on when the cameras aren't rolling. Lindquist, if his potential is to be believed, has at least one ESPN Car Wash in his future, but he has time to ease into the national consciousness.

So get ready Washington fans; while two skilled quarterbacks duke it out for the right to be the successor to Locker's legacy this fall, here comes another highly-rated QB with big game, but he doesn't eat the spotlight. And just as important - he's one of you. So on the Jake Locker/Jeff Lindquist Comparison Checklist, you can also tick off the homegrown factor, as well as add a few gold stars next to the box that says 'Loyalty'. Maybe four each, to signify their respective ratings, would be appropriate.

Locker was destined to be a Washington Husky. Heck, he verbally committed to then-UW Head Coach Tyrone Willingham while in his car driving back from an unofficial visit to Oregon State. He would have gone to UW if I had been head coach. As close as Locker is to his family and community, he was never destined to travel far.

Lindquist grew up a Washington fan; his parents both went to school there. He admitted to owning a Fathead of a UW helmet currently stuck on one of the walls of his bedroom (which makes you wonder just how close his final decision truly was). So when it came down to it, the thought of home was thicker than whatever they are selling down at The Farm these days, despite the fact that his brother goes there.

Jeff is also a Mercer Island man - an Islander. And equally proud of what that means.

With his future decided, it would have been easy for Jeff to contemplate moving on, to enroll early at UW - to open a 'new chapter in his book', as his Father would tell him. Heck, Nick Montana did it two years ago, and it's arguably one of the biggest reasons why he's nip and tuck with Keith Price for the starting quarterback spot at Washington right now.

But Lindquist took a page straight out of the Locker playbook for his next call.

"I'm only in high school once, so I'm going to enjoy it while I'm there," he said, matter-of-factly. "That doesn't mean things can change, but the goal right now is to be in high school until I graduate."

Lindquist added that he paid attention to Locker's decision to stay and finish what he started at Washington. It was an admirable move.

"You make decisions ultimately on what's best for you, and what you want to accomplish in your life," Sarkisian said Friday when asked about the lesson that's passed down through Locker's example. "Our life is about experiences; that's what makes life special. Anybody can have money; anybody can get money in a variety of ways. The experiences that we get are what makes this thing special. The experience of graduating from college, the experience of winning a championship, going to a bowl game, things of that nature - can never be replaced. You can always lose money and you can find a way to try and replace it. You can't replace the experiences, the memories that you get in college. And if that's what you want, the decision is really pretty easy."

"Jake was going to be successful with whatever he did, because he's that kind of person, that kind of player," added Jeff. "He wanted to leave with something bigger at U-Dub than just Jake Locker; he wanted to leave with a Holiday Bowl win. He showed people his loyalty and the good character that he has."

And in his own understated, yet professional way - Lindquist is going to do his best to see that Locker's legacy is used as a foundation for bigger and better things - the way Jake would want it.

"I can't do it by myself," he said. "I have to do it with my teammates. That should be a team goal to make the team better - not just me."

So let's tally up the JLCC:
Both love country music
Both are similarly built
Both are dual-threat QB's
Both are productive players
Both exhibit great character
Both have shown great loyalty to the hometown school
Both come from great families
Both are intent on finishing what they start
Both are great teammates

And finally, you can add that both are great recruiters. Both Locker and Lindquist made their verbal commitments before their senior seasons - in part to get momentum going for the Huskies' respective recruiting efforts. And with this upcoming class having arguably the deepest pool of talent the state of Washington has ever seen, it makes the timing of Lindquist's verbal commitment even more important.

Expect Lindquist to be on the track surrounding the field at Husky Stadium Saturday during Washington's Spring Game, hobnobbing with other prospects from the 2012 class, giving them his thoughts on UW when asked. I suspect Jeff will carry the torch for the local recruiting efforts in the same way he became a Husky on Friday - his way.

"I guess I'll say a few hellos, and then I guess we'll get rollin' with it," he said.

Consider the JLCC complete. Top Stories