No Regrets for Locker

In Seattle, Jake Locker was predictably praised for being a team-first guy and a true leader - but around the country he was questioned for what many felt was a poor decision by a naïve college kid. Does he regret his decision to stay in school? Look inside for the answer.

At this time a year ago, college football fans were surprised to learn that Jake Locker, a quarterback considered by many to be a first-round draft pick, had decided to turn down a huge payday for the chance to return to Washington for his senior season.

In Seattle, he was predictably praised for being a team-first guy and a true leader - but around the country he was questioned for what many felt was a poor decision by a naïve college kid.

If this were a screenplay, the talented signal caller would have won the Heisman, solidified himself as a first-round pick, and showed youngsters everywhere that staying in school is the best move.

But that's not quite how this story played out.

Locker and the Huskies struggled early, losing two of the first three games of the season, including a blowout loss to Nebraska at home.

In the loss, he completed just 4-of-20 pass attempts for 71 yards and his decision to spurn the NFL looked worse with each incompletion.

Looking back, Locker would have to agree that he made the wrong decision, right?

Nope. The humble kid from Ferndale (WA) insists he has no regrets.

And after listening to him answer the question for the thousandth time - without even a hint of frustration - you tend to believe him.

"It wasn't about where I was going to get drafted," said Locker, who graduated with a degree in History. "It wasn't about how much money. That wasn't what the decision was about."

So what were the reasons for staying at Washington?

"The opportunity to go to a bowl game, the opportunity to play one more year with the guys in that locker room, and to get my degree," he explained. "To accomplish things in college that at the time that I signed my national letter of intent, I planned on accomplishing.

"It was very fulfilling and is something that nobody will be able to take away from anyone on that team."

His final campaign included plenty of struggles, but was highlighted by a last-minute win at USC, a four-game winning-streak to close out his career, and Washington's first bowl win since 2001.

"What our football team was able to accomplish, and how we did it, is memories that I will be able to hold on to the rest of my life," Locker said. "You can't put a price on that."

What you can put a price tag on is the fact that his draft stock isn't as high as it once was, and there is a good chance that he could be drafted outside of the first round.

"I think if you ask anybody here, they want to be the first guy taken at their position and that's what you are working towards," Locker said. "But it's outside of all of our control."

Locker said earlier this week that his senior season, with all the ups and downs, better prepared him for the rigors of the NFL.

"I think I was able to mature as a person and a player," he said. "I think one more year being in college, and working under Coach Sarkisian, made me a better person and player."

This week, Locker is showcasing his skills for NFL coaches and scouts at the Senior Bowl in Mobile (AL), and hoping to work his way back up some NFL draft boards.

"Getting an opportunity to come and play against the best college players from this year is an awesome opportunity," he said. "I am just looking to show them who I am, as a person and a player.

"I hope that they just take out of it that I love the game football and that I am going to play any opportunity that I get."

After a bit of a slow start, Locker bounced back on the second day of practice, outperforming Colin Kaepernick and Ricky Stanzi in the process.

He has the strongest arm of the quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl, and there is no questioning his athleticism, but with Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton and Ryan Mallett also in this year's draft class, being the top quarterback selected is a tall task.

So let me ask this one last time…

"I honestly can tell you that I haven't regretted it for a day," Locker said.

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