We often profile new Bulldog commits with a brief breakdown of their highlight films, discussing the strong points, the demonstrated weaknesses, and the unanswered questions found when one looks at the old highlight reel.
On occasion however it makes sense to dig a little deeper, to really get into what makes a particular player either something special, or not all he's advertised to be. This is one of those times. Jacob Eason committed to Georgia at this weekend's Dawg Night prospect camp in Athens, setting of rounds of cheering, singing, and celebratory gunfire throughout Bulldog Nation. Eason had offers from the likes of Notre Dame (where his father played), Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Michigan, Oklahoma State, and Tennessee. Some like California QB Malik Henry more, but no recruiting service seems to rank Eason lower than the second best pro style signal caller in the country for the class of 2016.
That all sounds great. But I think in this instance it's important to delve a little deeper into things to understand what Eason's potential is and why his commitment is such a big deal. That's why we're hitting the film room to break down Eason's strengths and weaknesses. Take a look:
I expect that many college coaches made the decision to contact Eason, and even offer him a scholarship, after watching the first three plays of this sophomore highlight film. To be honest, with the thousands of such highlight montages that college coaches at a school like Georgia receive annually, they sometimes never get past those first handful of plays. That's why those putting together tapes have to make them count, to hook the viewer.
Right off the bat Eason demonstrates a very live arm. The ball comes out of his hand like a rocket. The name you hear most often when people discuss Eason is Matt Stafford. In fact Stafford, and what Coaches Bobo and Richt did with him, was cited by Eason and his father as part of the decision to pledge to the Bulldogs.
I don't think Eason has Stafford's arm strength, at least not yet. But compare the sophomore tape above with Aaron Murray's tape from the spring prior to his senior season or tape from Brice Ramsey's junior season. Now contrast those with some of Stafford's high school tape from a game against Stephensville High and future Texas/Ole Miss QB Jevan Snead.
Murray and Ramsey were both excellent high school quarterbacks who were highly-touted coming out of high school. But you can also see how catching balls from Matt Stafford in high school should have entitled his receivers to some sort of hazardous duty commendation. Eason's zipping it at a level which Murray's high school offense rarely called for. I expect that if Eason keeps developing physically and mechanically, he'll also continue to add velocity.
Speaking of mechanics, Eason does have some things he needs to work on. One is that I think he carries the ball a little low on his body during his drops. This has the effect of slowing down his release a tad because he has to spend a millisecond bringing the ball up into throwing position. Again, if you watch him throw and watch high school Matt Stafford throw you'll notice that there's a small, but perceptible, gap in the time it takes them to get the ball out.
Sometimes his shoulders are also a little unsquared, which can hurt accuracy and rob velocity. Generally however he throws from a solid base and has a smooth weight transfer. I love Eason's consistently high release point, which along with his height should limit the batted balls that plagued Aaron Murray, especially early in his career in Athens.
But Eason has the throws required for the Bulldog offense. Take for example the back shoulder comeback route at the 1:16 mark. I also like his ability to throw on the run. Witness for example the play at the 3:00 mark in which he rolls right then throws a nice touch pass 40 yards downfield and hard up against the sideline, where only his receiver can get to it.
Eason locks in on receivers sometimes. At the high school level that's lessor a problem than on the collegiate field. The good news is that eye discipline is imminently coachable.
The best thing about locking down a commitment from a QB of Eason's caliber this early is the fact that he can help recruit guys to come along with him. After seeing the film above, can you imagine a skill position player in the country who wouldn't want to play with this kid? I can't. I expect Richt and company will use that to their advantage.
I'll be back later with a Film Room feature on Eason's fellow 2016 commitment Ben Cleveland, looking at exactly why Cleveland may be unlike any other offensive line prospect in the country. Until later . . .