Jake Locker is not the Savior

It has been a long time since a Husky recruit got as much attention as Jake Locker has during the past year. Having seen him play, I can honestly say I think he is as good as any quarterback we ever recruited during my 15 years with the program. He is a wonderfully gifted athlete who has a real passion and feel for the game of football. He will become an excellent college quarterback in due time.

I hate to admit that P-I sports writer Jim Moore gets to me, but his dubbing of the 'savior' title on Jake is yet again one of his deliberate attempts to insult and belittle the Husky football program. I just don't understand his schtick of being so anti-Husky and I condemn his ignorance for thinking the program needs a 'savior'. As far as I am concerned there has only been one savior in the history of mankind and it certainly isn't a freshman quarterback in the process of enrolling at Washington.

Jake Locker will come in and compete at the quarterback position, and unless there are major injuries to some of the players above him on the depth chart, I doubt if he will see the playing field in 2006. The position just requires too much learning and development to throw a true freshman into the fray.

Now I could be totally wrong, but I just don't see him being that much better than the kids who already know the system and have been with the program for a year and a half now.

Jake wasn't promised playing time like Drew Bledsoe was. He won't save anything, except maybe his red-shirt season. He will merely come in and compete and get to know his teammates and earn his opportunity to play. He will earn their respect first, and then if he is good enough to pick up the system or those ahead of him stumble, then maybe he will get his chance.

Someone who is being brought in to 'save' the program would certainly be played immediately. That is not going to happen. Besides, the starter right now, Isaiah Stanback, is a senior and that is the way you do things in college. Behind the starter is another player, Carl Bonnell, who clearly had one of the most improved springs of anyone on the team. The Huskies can win with either. You honor the kids who have paid their dues and who have waited and earned their turn. If Locker is clearly the best player at quarterback then I promise you he will be played immediately by Coach Willingham. His job is to compete, not to save.

When will critics and doubters just realize that Washington has hit a low in the cycle and that they will eventually rise again? This program is down, it is not out. Texas hit a similar low in both the 80's and 90's, so did Oklahoma, USC, and so is Nebraska. It happened at Washington in the late 60's and it happens to every school at one time or another. That is why coaches get fired. Firing three coaches in six years is the reason why Washington has slipped. The program will be resurrected when they quit changing coaches and not when they change quarterbacks.

There are all sorts of reasons why a kid like Jake Locker would have picked the Huskies over Texas (yes, Texas - who just won the national championship) as well as every other school on the west coast, including Moore's beloved Washington State.

The University of Washington is still one of the finest academic institutions in North America. It still exists in one of the most beautiful cities in America and not in some small rural town. It still presents its graduates with the most connections for job opportunities of any college in the northwest. And, it still has and always will have, the greatest football tradition and history of any school in the western United States, save USC.

That is not a slam on Moore's WSU, it's just plain facts.

I just take offense when a writer for a Seattle paper continues to write anything he can just as long as it is negative against the Huskies. It would be like a Husky graduate writing sports for the Spokane paper.

What is so unfair is the pressure it puts on Jake Locker. He doesn't deserve a title like this because all it does is create impossible expectations. He can only fail. I correct people whenever I hear it. It's not accurate. There is no 'saving' going on at Washington. The program is in good hands and Jake Locker made an excellent choice. He realizes the advantages of staying home to play football.

And that leads me to another thing that simply gripes me. Everyone wanted to believe (and Moore was promoting) that Locker was going to be drafted by baseball and would spurn the Huskies just like Grady Sizemore and Matt Tuiasosopo did. Those people obviously never saw Locker play football. This kid loves the game. He played both ways and is no prima donna, 'I'm-only-a-quarterback'- type of guy. He loves to hit and was an excellent safety.

Moore deliberately promoted the baseball idea in a number of columns to the point where everyone began doubting whether Locker would honor his letter of intent. He always said he would play football but nobody wanted to believe he could turn down millions.

Time out!

Baseball gives you a couple of million, if you're good enough, then proceeds to put you on a minor league bus and pays you a couple of hundred dollars a month and feeds you Big Macs. Come on. Jake Locker will make 10 times that playing football and he knows that. Plus, he will earn a college degree that will help him for life.

He also knows what honest coaches Tyrone Willingham and Tim Lappano are and that is precisely why he chose the Huskies. He will get his money in due time, only he wants to do it the old fashion way.

He wants to earn it.

Locker must cringe when someone mentions 'savior' considering what a good Christian he is. It is simply unfair to the kid. But then, many in the sports media don't give a damn about the kids. The kids only represent stories to them and the more controversy the better.

I promise you if Moore were to read this column he would laugh and say, good. I am pissing them off. I am helping the Cougars. I am making them react. I think he is accomplishing his intent. He pisses me off. I still like him as a writer and as a person but his overt bias against the Huskies is absolutely stupid. Give me a break with all this 'savior' stuff. Just let the kid come in and do his best.

Nothing more, nothing less.

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