Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Stardom of Jake Locker

During his four years at UW, Jake Locker has had ups and downs, highs and lows, pitfalls and successes. He came in as a highly touted high school recruit, spurning offers from juggernauts (at the time) USC and Michigan to stay home and play at his home-state school, a University of Washington program in shambles. In his small hometown of Ferndale, Jake enjoyed immense success as a high school baseball and football player, leading his school to a 2005 3A state championship in football.

He came in and redshirted his freshman year, despite pleas from fans everywhere once starting Quarterback Isaiah Stanback went down with an injury. This move would be Ty Willingham's only great one as coach at UW.

He led UW to 4 wins in 2007 as a Redshirt Freshman, despite completing only 48% of his passes. And in 2008, after nearly leading the Huskies to a comeback win over BYU, Jake got injured and so ensued the only 0-12 season in Pac-10 history. Inevitably, Jake's recruiter and coach, Ty Willingham was finally let go.

The Sarkisian era started off with questions, as UW and its fans were interested in hiring more of a high profile coach, such as Jim Mora Jr. or Brian Kelly. But Sark was able to bring incredible levels of enthusiam and with it, some great assistant coaches who helped start the hype machine for UW football once again.

UW fans were not disappointed, as Jake spent his third year nearly leading UW to a bowl game, finishing 5-7 and beating highly ranked USC in the process. He completed 58% of his passes, and threw for 2800 yards and 21 interceptions. During the season he started getting serious looks from the NFL, as scouts drooled over his combination of athleticism, arm strength, character, and leadership ability. Despite still not being an All-Pac-10 calibur player, Jake's immense and quick improvements under Sark had garnered national attention, and media was hyping Jake to leave early for the NFL and be a top-10 pick.

Jake again showed why we all love him, and chose to come back for his fifth year at UW. He turned down tens of millions of dollars to come back and lead UW back to the promise land. Since his announcement that he would stay, Jake has risen to fame and stardom not often known by Seattle athletes.

Amid visits to New York and the ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Jake has represented the UW well and stayed true to himself in his blue jeans and cowboy boots.

When Jake leads UW back to a bowl game for the first time since 2003, Jake will hold the title of Best Husky Ever.

People outside of Seattle and the UW fanbase often wonder why we fawn over Jake Locker so. While his stats don't garner much awe yet, his senior season will solidify his legacy as he pulls UW out of the darkness. Whether it's his dealings with UW Touchdown for Kids or his close friendship with Kyle Roger (a young UW fan that died of brain cancer in February 2009), Jake Locker has lit up Seattle with his kindness and his care. He has always been gracious with the media, easy-going and fun with the fans, and a hard-working gym-rat that desires only to win.

He may be on his way out of Seattle after the 2011 NFL Draft, but he will always be something UW and its fans are so proud of.

Mr. Husky.