Seattle — Washington quarterback Jacob Eason announced Thursday he will skip his final year of college and enter the NFL Draft.
Eason started 13 games for Washington last season after beginning his college career at Georgia and transferring following his sophomore season. He threw for 3,132 yards and 23 touchdowns for the Huskies in a season where at times he looked like a sure first-round pick and at other times it appeared that another season of college would help his draft status.
“I want to thank everyone at the UW — my teammates, the coaching staff and the fans — for making these last two years so memorable,” Eason said in a statement. “I’m very happy that I was able to come home and play for the Dawgs, and will always be grateful.”
Eason’s decision caps weeks of debate about his future. He chose to play in Washington’s bowl game victory over Boise State rather than follow the path of NFL-bound teammates Hunter Bryant and Trey Adams, who skipped the game.
Washington’s coaching change from Chris Petersen to Jimmy Lake and the subsequent decision to fire offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan added another layer to Eason’s decision.
Ultimately, the draw of the NFL won out.
“The opportunity to play quarterback in the NFL has been a lifelong dream and my heart is set on the challenge ahead,” Eason wrote in a social media post announcing his decision.
Eason was a five-star recruit out of nearby Lake Stevens, Washington, who opted to go across the country to play at Georgia. He started as a freshman for the Bulldogs but lost the job to Jake Fromm during his sophomore season after suffering an injury in the season opener.
Eason sat out the 2018 season after transferring to Washington and beat out Jake Haener for the starting job during fall camp.
Eason completed 64.2 percent of his passes and had standout games early in the season against Eastern Washington, BYU and Arizona. His best game may have come in a loss to Oregon, in which Eason was 23 of 30 for 289 yards and three touchdowns.
Eason has the prototypes of an NFL quarterback, standing 6-foot-5 with one of the strongest arms in college. But issues with consistency popped up during his collegiate career.
“We wish Jacob nothing but the best,” Lake said. “He was a terrific teammate who worked very hard in his two years as a Husky. I’m looking forward to watching him succeed at the next level.”
On the mend
Clyde Edwards-Helaire was a no-show at the Peach Bowl media day, another indicator No. 1 LSU’s leading rusher could miss the playoff semifinal because of his hamstring injury.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron still holds out hope Edwards-Helaire could play against No. 4 Oklahoma. However, Edwards-Helaire’s absence from the media day event, normally attended by all players expected to be available for the game, may suggest the junior is a long shot at best to play.
Orgeron said Edwards-Helaire missed Thursday’s event because he was receiving treatment. The coach said Edwards-Helaire “may try something” in Thursday’s practice. Orgeron made a similarly optimistic statement about Tuesday’s session, but Edwards-Helaire was unable to join the practice.
Orgeron said Edwards-Helaire “ran a little bit” on Wednesday without making cuts. A final decision on his availability may not be known before Saturday.
Big Ten switch
Penn State hired Kirk Ciarrocca as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, after he held the same role for Big Ten foe Minnesota for the past three seasons.
Ciarrocca replaces Ricky Rahne, who was named the head coach at OId Dominion earlier this month. Penn State head coach James Franklin, whose team plays Memphis in the Cotton Bowl on Saturday, made the announcement.
Ciarrocca grew up as a Nittany Lions fan in Lewisberry, Pennsylvania, and has deep ties to the state. He has spent the majority of his 30-year coaching career in the Mid-Atlantic region. Ciarrocca came to the Midwest in 2013 to join head coach P.J. Fleck at Western Michigan and followed Fleck to Minnesota in 2017.
The Gophers, who beat Penn State 31-26 on Nov. 9, enjoyed a breakout season behind Ciarrocca’s play calling and the development of quarterback Tanner Morgan. No. 16 Minnesota (10-2, No. 18 CFP), which plays Auburn in the Outback Bowl next week, is tied for third in the Big Ten with No. 13 Penn State (10-2, No. 10 CFP) with an average of 34.3 points per game. Morgan leads the conference with an average of 247.9 passing yards per game, setting single-season program records for yards and touchdowns.