Locker Watch - Day Four

With the impending decision of Washington quarterback Jake Locker to go pro or not, this will be the place where you can get all the relevant links and news that could impact that decision, as well as thoughts about what staying or leaving would have not only on Jake, but also on the future of Washington football.

DAY FOUR - (UPDATE: 9:55 AM) - More links
Most of these surround Jake applying for an NFL evaluation, as well as where some people believe he'll end up in the NFL Draft.

Scott Johnson, Everett Herald - Huskies' Locker asks advisory board to evaulate his draft value

Todd Milles, Tacoma News-Tribune - Sarkisian, Locker meet to plot future

Mel Kiper, Jr., ESPN - His latest 2010 Big Board (subscription required to read more than his top-5, of which Locker is No. 5
DAY THREE - (UPDATE: 12:05 PM) - The Husky Honks - Dave 'Softy' Mahler, Dick Baird and Hugh Millen - spoke on the subject of Jake's decision, and also about Millen's piece in the Seattle Times detailing the statistics on juniors that leave early for the NFL Draft.

Millen had Jake as the Top Pot Donut Top Dawg of the week for his play against Cal. Softy said he thought Baird would go with Daniel Te'o-Nesheim. 49-straight starts. Said WSU tried to triple-team him twice.

Softy went to talk about the 'big elephant in the room', and gave Millen huge props for his article in the Times about why Locker should stay. Softy asked Baird if he read it ('piece of journalistic amazement'). Baird said it was 'totally Hugh'. He wanted to throw a bone to Tim Lappano, who recruited Locker to UW.

Softy said he thinks Locker was coming to UW anyway. Then he turned to Hugh and asked if he was Hugh's son, what would he tell him? Hugh said he would lay out the information and let him make the decision. Softy was looking for more, and Hugh said the first thing he would do is look at the finances. Worst-case scenario 15 million minimum, so he'll never have to have a job he doesn't want to do.

Then he would tell his son to get as much insurance as possible. Now you're covered. If he gets hurt, he's set. If he doesn't get hurt, he's set. And then he said as you make your way through life, money is important, but life experience is just as important.

He said his biggest highs and lowest lows were in the NFL. You look in the mirror and ask yourself if you're ready. Ships look good in the harbor, but they are built like ships for a reason; go out there and live the life you want to. Mentioned Phillip Rivers' 183-million dollar contract. The money will be there. Now it's just a matter a living your life on things that are more important than money, so stay at Washington and live the life you were meant to live.

Softy said the biggest problem with this is that when you're 21, can a kid like that make a mature decision and forget about things like that amount of money. Baird said the most he ever made playing pro ball was $125 per game and all the beer he could drink, so he can't relate to the numbers being thrown out there. But when he sees him score a TD against Cal and you can tell how much his teammates rally around him, that's why you play the game. You're only a senior once. The program has already turned the corner, so he doesn't need to worry about that.

Hugh added that if they can agree Jake has played at such a high level, his financial security is already assured. Now you talk about 'more money', like his second NFL contract. So that even bolstered the point more to stay home, because the financial security is there.

Softy asked Hugh, in his heart of hearts, is Jake coming back, and he said yes. Doesn't know that, and it wouldn't surprise him if he left, but he's looking at it as a value statement. Jake could have been a millionaire out of high school playing baseball, and he told the baseball execs not to even draft him.

Softy brought up the conversation he had Monday with Scott Locker, Jake's Dad. Scott wouldn't say on the air what Jake should do, but he did say a lot of things that led Softy to believe he thinks Scott wants Jake to play one more year. Dick said he thinks the whole town of Ferndale would want him back.

Hugh added that the way Jake has lived his life up to now and the way he's played at UW - the way he's runs guys over and how competitive he's been, a once-in-two-generations talent - the money is going to be there. It's all based on his athleticism and god-given abilities alone.

Softy talked about the deadline, and Baird said that Jake would still be at UW working out and staying in shape. Still three-and-a-half weeks away from maybe knowing. He added that he should just say he's returning during the team banquet tonight. Baird said everyone wants him back, but everyone also needs to give him the space to make the best choice to him. And if he leaves, you have to adjust and move on. Said it really hurt when Benji Olson and Olin Kreutz left early, but you have to account for it.

Hugh talked about the idea of Jake being a fourth-year junior, but because UW hasn't been to a bowl game, he's missed roughly 60 extra bowl practices (or the equivalent of 32 regular practices, according to Hugh) that most of those other juniors declaring would have gotten. And that's a huge factor to consider when talking about his development.

Softy said he's done all he can, and Baird said that he's doubting Jake is sitting down and saying he needs to come back because Softy told him he should. Laughs all around.

Talk about it: here
DAY THREE - (UPDATE: 9:45 AM) - Sarkisian on with Mitch Levy of KJR
Washington's Steve Sarkisian was on Wednesday morning with Mitch Levy of KJR ('Mitch in the Morning'), and they finished off their roughly 20-minute long interview with a series of questions about Jake and his decision.

Mitch asked about Locker, saying he heard during Tuesday's press conference that Sark is very optimistic. Sark said that's just who he is, he's a glass half-full guy. If that day comes when he comes to his office and says to Sark he's moving on, he's going to assume Jake is staying.

Mitch asked about Jake being NFL-ready right now. Sark said that if he stayed and played 12 or 13 more college games, he'd definitely look more efficient. He'd be more accurate. His footwork would be cleaned up. But his athleticism, competitiveness, arm strength and speed won't change, which is why the NFL is enamored with him. And that's why Sark selfishly wants him back because he knows how polished he could get him after another year. That's why he knows it's not an easy decision, and they are them to support Jake and his family, and it helps that they've been though some similar things and are being level-headed about it. They will make the best decision based on great information, and not on emotion.

Mitch asked about the major differences Jake would see between spending next year in college and going to the NFL. Sark said he wouldn't trade his staff for any staff in the NFL. Said the biggest difference between college and NFL would be in reps and game day experience. In the NFL it's a full-time job, so you can dedicate your entire life to it. But he wouldn't trade his guys for anyone.

Mitch said that he feels he'll be successful eventually in the NFL, no matter what choice he makes, and Sark agreed. He will not fail. He said he could go play billiards and be the No. 1 billiards player in the world. Whether it's playing for them, the NFL or MLB, he'll be a success just because of the person and competitor he is.

Talk about it: here
DAY THREE - (9:00 AM) - Morning Links
All I have to do is really just post the following link - it pretty much is the definitive treatise on why Jake Locker should stay. And it's not surprising it was penned by the one man in Seattle people wanted to hear from - former UW QB Hugh Millen. Millen, who is a weekly contributor to the Husky Honks, as well as Husky game day, Hugh is a notorious number-cruncher and analyst of all things pigskin, and has laid out in so many digits why Locker would be bucking odds if he succeeded in the NFL as a junior who came out early.

Percentages say Jake Locker should return to Washington

As far as the other links, they are all a general rehash of Steve Sarkisian's Tuesday press conference. Todd Milles of the Tacoma News-Tribune put together a good synopsis of what was talked about.

Ted Miller of ESPN
also opined about it in his blog.

Bleacher Report correspondent Alex Akita also lays out his four reasons why Jake Locker stays in school one more year.
DAY TWO - (UPDATE: 2:15)
A lot of questions during Steve Sarkisian's Tuesday press conference were about the future of Jake Locker, and Sarkisian's part in Locker's decision-making process of whether to turn pro or not. Sarkisian reiterated that he and Locker had a meeting Monday ('nice conversation') and that Jake is doing things the right way when it comes to getting to the decision that's best for him and his future. "He's going to do his due diligence. He's going to take his time. He's going to make a decision based on facts and proper information, not on emotion."

He added that Monday they sent in the paperwork required to make sure Locker would receive an evaluation by the NFL to help judge his stock and draft status.

Asked if he was optimistic Locker would return to Washington, Sarkisian said simply - "Very optimistic". "That's just the way I think," he would go on to say, adding that he's not basing his opinion on anything Locker has said or intimated to him.

But based on his own past history of helping USC's quarterbacks wrestle with their own professional decisions, Sarkisian definitely feels he's well-equipped to show Locker what to look for when deciding his own future.

"I've had some pretty good experience with this that have gone both ways," he said. "I've seen Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart stay in school, I've seen Mark Sanchez decide to turn pro. Not that any decision is wrong or right, it's what is best for those individuals. We're just trying to supply him with the information that's there."

So what will Locker base his decision on? "I think it's based on, one, the history of quarterbacks that leave early and what they've accomplished," Sarkisian said. "I think it's based on draftable teams – what teams potentially there that are drafting in the top-five picks. I think it's based on the evaluation he gets backs from the National Football League. I think it's based on the other quarterbacks that are entering the Draft, and what they're strengths and what they're weaknesses are. I think it's based on our football team and where we're headed and where we are – the things we're trying to get accomplished and where we are in the system. And I think it's based on his strengths and his weaknesses and what another year would mean to him here as compared to what another year would mean to him in the National Football League in continuing that process of becoming a premier quarterback."

While he said he wouldn't interject his own opinion to Locker unless asked, Sarkisian definitely wants Jake back manning the Huskies next fall. "We would love to have Jake Locker back," he said. "I think his future is extremely bright. I think he's only going to get better and I only think we'll get better with him.

"But I want him to make this decision based on what he feels is right, not us trying to persuade him one way or another. And in time, I'll give him my honest and humble opinion. But that's not telling him what to do."

Sarkisian was asked what that opinion might be, but he said that it would be something he would only share with Jake.

One thing he did say was that he echoed the thoughts of Locker's father Scott, who told Dave 'Softy' Mahler that money would not be the driving force behind Jake's ultimate decision. "It's not about money with this guy," Sarkisian said. "It's about what he loves to do. It's just a matter of where he wants to play football."

Sarkisian was asked about any potential drawbacks that might occur from Locker coming back, and he said the natural one is the fear of injury, but with insurance policies the way they are, every top prospect takes a policy out on themselves - although Locker hasn't yet. He also mentioned Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford, and his injury this fall. "But he'll still be a top-10 draft pick," Sarkisian added.

UW Head Basketball Coach Lorenzo Romar was also asked about Locker's decision, and he had this to say. "All I want to say to Jake is...please stay, man," Romar said. "It is so much fun to watch you play. That's the only advice I want to give him.

"But we fail to see the flip side to that sometimes, as much as we love to see the kid play, and how good our team could be next year with him being here. From his standpoint, he's got a side he's looking at it as well, the flip side. And what I've always tried to do is look at the pros and cons. I don't think I've ever told anyone what to do. I don't think I've ever... Nate Robinson, Brandon Roy, Martell Webster, Spencer Hawes... I don't think I've ever said, 'this is what you should do'. This is what can happen over here, this is what can happen there. You're smart enough. You'll make the right decision.

"That's pretty much the advice I've given."
DAY ONE - (UPDATE: 12:35 ) Jake's Dad talks on KJR. Softy interviewed Scott Locker, Jake's father, and Softy asked Scott if he knew his son had been in the news lately, and Scott deadpanned that it's just business as usual.

Softy asked Scott what he was doing, and he said he's just working and trying to get home early so he can put up some xmas lights.

Softy asked about the Cal game and what Scott thought of the game and also the chants for Jake, and Scott said for the last three years those Saturday afternoons and evenings have been the most special time, and to end the year like that was crazy. They couldn't be happier for the way the fans and the school and the city have embraced the family. When they start chanting for Jake, Scott wishes everyone could feel that way.

Softy parses the words and wants to make sure Scott isn't talking in the past tense, and Scott said that regardless of the eventual decision, he knows UW fans will be with him.

Softy asked Scott what Jake's going to do, and Scott set him up by saying he knows exactly what he's going to do - which is what he told the media Saturday night.

Then he said that he's just as in the dark as anyone else, and he even has his closest friends coming to him and no one knows. He does know that Jake will make a great decision.

Softy brought up the January 15th deadline for pulling his name out of the draft, and asked Scott how long it might take. Scott said that it's when he feels like he's got all the information, he'll let everyone know. He knows there's a lot of people and teammates that are anxious to hear, and it's not in his nature to keep people hanging.

Softy said he had to mention that Scott is also Casey's uncle and how he had to set the record straight because he botched that on Saturday. He asked Scott about who Jake might consult, guys like Peyton Manning. Scott said it was a great question. The immediate people will be his UW coaches, and then it's up to Jake as to who he's comfortable talking to.

He added that he's always been good about running stuff by the family, and they expect to be a part of it too.

Softy asked if he did come back, would he take out insurance? Scott said they actually put the work in on that earlier and were ready to take a policy out on him this year, but Jake didn't want it. So it would be his choice, as is the rest of the process. Scott said you can try to help him, but at the end he'll make the decision that's right for him, and it'll also be right for everybody.

Softy brought up the scene in Jerry Maguire when Rod Tidwell gives up Arizona's contract and the possibility where he might get hurt. Scott said getting hurt is definitely a reality and his heart went out to Sam Bradford's family. He put himself in their spot and he felt bad for his father because he knows how he would have felt. He would be lying if he didn't think about stuff like that. But when you play it at that level, you realize it's a fact of the game and you have to live with it.

Softy brought up a stat given to him by Rob Rang. 273 QB's drafted in the recent history, and only 13 have suffered career-affecting injuries. Scott said that Jake being the athlete that he is, he'd be able to get past nearly all injuries.

Softy talked about all the things that could happen if Jake does come back, like putting himself in a better position in next year's draft. Said the success rate is 2-1 for guys that stay for their senior year. Scott said he's seen it, seen those stats. Woodward and Sark set up a meeting to show them how playing a senior year can pay off in the NFL. He has all that information, and he was there with Jake and his Mom Anita. And they'll take all that information in and see where it leads.

Softy asked about the impact the CBA might have on Jake's decision, and Scott said that he doesn't think Jake will put a lot of weight into it. He could have signed a 4-5 million dollar contract for baseball out of high school and might have even been able to sign a much bigger baseball deal by now - so he doesn't think money is the driving deal.

Softy asked Scott what is driving the decision, and Scott said that Jake has a passion for life and football, and he has to decide whether or not he wants to continue playing football in college or in the pros. Just turned 21 and that's a major life decision.

Softy said it's a ridiculously difficult decision and fans can see both sides of the coin. Mentioned the photo here on Dawgman of the girl with the sign asking Jake to come back. Softy asked Scott about how much Jake thinks about his UW legacy, and Scott said he doesn't know if he thinks about it like leaving UW a legend. Since he is older and you get a chance to look back on your glory days, those times become very important. If he decides to come back, it could be seen as something people never forget. He doesn't know if Jake thinks about that too much, but he probably has thought about it a little.

Softy asked Scott if Jake is ready to take that next step. Does Jake think he's ready to do that? Scott said it's a tough question because they've worked hard to steer clear of all the NFL talk. His take is that Jake is a very confident kid and very sure of himself in many ways, so he thinks Jake would feel ready. He prepares himself well to do whatever he's going to do - so if he made the decision to go pro it would be done with the mindset that he's ready and capable.

Softy thanked Scott for his time and wanted Scott to pass along to Jake that he'll always be known as a great Husky, but it would be great for Husky fans to see him play one more year. Scott said that it would be great to have him come back and he loves listening to everyone's opinion. If he decides to come back and they don't sell out Husky Stadium every game, something is wrong. He's sending out a challenge to all UW fans everywhere to do that.

Softy ended the conversation wondering if that's what he'd like to see Jake do - he talked to them after the Syracuse game and there were tears in Jake's eyes. Scott said that he would never want to burden Jake with his wishes. Jake's done so much for his life, he wouldn't want to put any pressure on Jake to make that kind of decision just for them. It's got to be his decision.
12/9/2009 (DAY ONE) - The watch officially begins. Waking up this morning, both KJR and KIRO were having call-ins, asking fans whether or not Washington QB Jake Locker should come back to Montlake, or should he turn professional. It's clearly the story that's not going away any time soon.

Listening to Dave 'Softy' Mahler, he laid out the pros and cons for Locker, which are pretty simple: NFL = $$$, and perhaps more money right now if proposed changes to the collective bargaining agreement go through, or one more year at Washington, which would turn him into a legend - regardless of whether or not the Huskies actually do anything next year, as well as theoretically a better quarterback with one more year under the tutelage of Steve Sarkisian and Doug Nussmeier. He's admitted publicly that he desperately wants Locker to stay for one more year. Softy will have Jake's father, Scott, on the show at noon, and I'll post a recap here. Scott has gone on record earlier saying that he has no idea what Jake is thinking about when it comes to the decision. Obviously now that the season is over

In many ways, it's shaping up to mirror (in a way) the decision by former Kennedy RB Paul Arnold, who was considered the top back in the country at the time. He took official visits to places like UCLA, Colorado and Notre Dame, and Husky Nation was on pins and needles the whole time he was being courted by all these schools. And then he announced for UW, and the fans celebrated like they won the national championship. Arnold ended up with a degenerative back condition that forced a move to receiver, and I know his career at UW didn't pan out the way he would have liked - but he'll always be known for staying home and showing his 'Dub Privileges' (Paul's phrase, not mine).

If Locker chose to stay, the Huskies' 2010 record would only matter in the short term; in the long term he would certainly be seen as a major cog in Washington's turnaround (if that happened). And look for Steve Sarkisian to make his sales pitch Monday, as he told the media Saturday night after Washington's 42-10 win over California that he would be sitting down with Locker this week to begin the process of gathering information.

One piece of news that might affect Locker's decision came out Monday - Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen is turning pro. He made the decision after consulting with fired Head Coach Charlie Weis and his parents. Clausen is one of the few QB prospects out there that could potentially go higher than Locker in the April draft.

Here's a bunch of links covering Locker's decision:
The Daily Weekly - Did Jake Locker Just Play His Last Game as a Washington Husky?

Seattle Times (Steve Kelley) - Will Jake Locker stay or go?

Bleacher Report (Todd Williams) - Jake Locker, Washington Beat Cal: Looking to 2010, One More Year Jake?

Tacoma News-Tribune (John McGrath) - Locker's brilliance lacks just one thing for Huskies fans: 'One more year'

Everett Herald (Scott Johnson) - Last Hurrah for Huskies' Locker? Top Stories