Commitment Impact: Jake Haener

It was Saturday morning when Washington fans saw that telltale tweet from Chris Petersen: WOOF! It was a new UW commit, but which prospect was it?

As it turned out, Petersen's tweet showed up just minutes after this tweet from 2017 quarterback prospect Jake Haener.

https://twitter.com/jakehaener10/status/744220660302385152

http://www.scout.com/player/203494-jake-haener?s=147

As it turns out, Jake’s mother Julie is a UW grad. So is Jake’s grandfather. As you can see above, an offer from the Huskies amounted to a ‘dream offer’. So when he got it Saturday morning, he didn’t take long to deliberate. 

The Analysis

So what are the Huskies getting in Jake Haener the quarterback prospect? This is what Scout.com National Recruiting Analyst Greg Biggins had to say about the 6-0, 180-pound Haener: 

"From a physical standpoint, Jake is a bit undersized and that has hurt his recruitment but he's a very solid quarterback and has looked good at multiple events this spring. He's among the most accurate quarterbacks in the region, has a nice tight release and has a high understanding of how to play the position.

"He understands timing and anticipation, throws the ball early and is very quick with his reads. He shows very good pocket mobility, can escape the rush and either make a play with his legs or buy time outside the pocket, extend a play and make a throw down the field. He's a highly competitive player as well, a strong leader and a great fit in the Husky offense."

Nathan Kenion of Kenion Training, the group that Haener plays for during the off-season 7-on-7 tournaments, also had this to say about Haener: 

"In my opinion, he was the best in Northern California, and definitely one of the top in California itself. As far as a competitor, as far as understanding the game...he's just a really, really good football player. A lot of times you don't really hear that about quarterbacks when you say he's just a good football player, but he's a good football player.

"He's a kid that always understood that he was going to be a little undersized and he plays as if he's out to prove a point. Just because he's a little height-deficient doesn't make him less of a quarterback than everyone else.

"You’ll see a guy that gets rid of the ball quick, looks like he's conducting surgery out there on the field. He moves the ball down the field, he's a really sharp kid. You'll see a kid who is confident and who you can tell the team is behind.

"I know he's a good fit. It's his dream school and he has some family that's gone there. I think it's a great fit. He's the same as the guy they have now (Jake Browning), just a little bit shorter. There won't be any drop-off when it's his turn."

To see Haener’s junior HUDL film, click here: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/3349362/highlights/289388386

Chris Petersen has always been very clear when asked what he looks for in a quarterback. He wants a great decision-maker, and he wants a very accurate passer. Haener's completion percentage as a junior was 68.5%, throwing for over 3000 yards. He threw for 35 touchdowns and had only six interceptions, so the statistics certainly follow Petersen's requirements. 

What does it mean for the Washington quarterbacks group going forward?

Here’s one possible depth chart as to how the quarterbacks group could look like for the Huskies in 2017:

Jake Browning (6-2, 205, Jr.)

K.J. Carta-Samuels (6-2, 219, Jr.)

Tony Rodriguez (6-3, 191, Sr.)

Daniel Bridge-Gadd (6-2, 195, RFr.)

Blake Gregory (6-3, 170, RFr.)*

Jake Haener (6-0, 170, Fr.)

*=Walk on

So they'll have plenty of experience two seasons from now, with Browning most likely heading into his third full season as Washington's starter. They'll have veterans in Carta-Samuels and Rodriguez to bolster the ranks, and Haener would join Bridge-Gadd as the new boys looking to set themselves up as the future at the position. 

And I haven’t even brought up yet the fact that Washington already has a verbal commitment from a quarterback for 2018: Bothell’s Jacob Sirmon. So if all holds to form, the Huskies have solved their quarterback issues for at least the next six years. 

What does this mean for Washington going forward in terms of landing more quality for the 2017 class?

Realistically, not much. And that is the one immediate downside to getting a commitment from Haener, who was nowhere near a household name until he made it to the Elite 11 - and even then he didn’t register on many radars and went straight back off the grid again when he didn’t make the finals. 

Quarterback recruiting at the highest level is very much a ‘bird-in-hand’ proposition. For the 2016 recruiting class, Washington missed trying to sign Jacob Eason, Dillon Sterling-Cole, Max Gilliam, and Matt Fink. They ended up having to extend their recruiting search much longer than they wanted to, eventually signing Daniel Bridge-Gadd. It wasn’t the worst-case scenario, as Bridge-Gadd ended up taking his high school team to the state championship finals and he was Arizona’s Gatorade Player of the Year. 

But top BCS programs never want to go into December without a quarterback in their recruiting cycle if they can help it. It typically means two things: 1) All the top quarterback targets are already gone; 2) They had to re-evaluate their recruiting strategy. In short? Not good. 

In getting Haener now instead of waiting to find a senior who blew the doors off like Bridge-Gadd, Washington avoided having to sweat out their QB recruiting. They landed a player that truly wants to be a Husky in the worst way and will work his butt off accordingly. 

Finally, by getting their quarterback before the summer really hits, UW now can use Haener as part of their bigger recruiting plan to recruits as to what they are trying to sell as the future of the program. 

Despite not being considered a top-5 quarterback in California, Haener plays for a big school and is a visible prospect. Monte Vista will make noise in the North Coast Section this year. in 2015 they lost an NCS Division 1 quarterfinal game to Pittsburg, another Bay Area powerhouse - but they’ll be back. Expect Haener’s statistics to be even better than before, and they were already very good last year. 

Jake Haener offers nothing but upside in a recruiting year where difference makers at the quarterback position were in very short supply. In the words of one scout, this year is full of ‘backups’. 

Haener may end up being nothing more than a capable backup. But the Huskies have years to find that out, and given his makeup, skill set, and personality traits, he’ll only get better with time. The UW coaches have shown that they can develop quarterbacks. Chris Petersen certainly has that reputation, and we'll see how involved Jeff Tedford is this fall in working with Jonathan Smith and the Husky quarterbacks - but he also has a reputation as a quarterback guru. He was the one that developed Trent Dilfer at Fresno State, Akili Smith and Joey Harrington at Oregon, and Kyle Boller and Aaron Rodgers at Cal. 

The progress of Jake Browning last year from game one to the Heart of Dallas Bowl is proof positive that Washington quarterbacks do improve. 

There's no reason Jake Browning can't take Jake Haener under his wing when he gets to Washington and groom him to become the next Montlake Jake. 


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