Jacob Eason stepped to the line of scrimmage with a receiver flanked on each side of him.
Eason barked the signals and took the snap. He then rifled a throw to senior receiver Javon Wims for a completion. Plays like this have been routine through preseason practice, with Eason showing much more composure and confidence in the pocket.
Like any second-year quarterback, Eason has plenty to improve upon. As he prepares for the upcoming season, Eason feels much better about the position he’s in.
“Having that year under my belt, I learned a lot of things,” Eason said. “I did some things wrong, I did some things right. You kind of learn from past experiences. Going into this next season, having those experiences, I feel like I’ll make more of the right decisions than the wrong decisions.”
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As a freshman, Eason showcased the physical traits that made him one of the most sought-after quarterbacks out of high school. His towering presence at 6-foot-6 allows him to scan the field when reading his progressions.
His arm strength is elite, evidenced by throws he makes look easy compared to teammates.
But then there is a 55.1 percent completion he endured throughout his freshman season. Eason also spent considerable time mastering the proper footwork needed at the college level. He finished his freshman season with 2,430 yards, 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Chaney noted Eason’s physical tools for the position. But for Eason, Chaney said, it is about refining certain areas of his game to make him a more polished quarterback.
“He is not Drew Brees, he’s not in his 16th or 18th year, or whatever year he’s in – he can’t call the whole ball game, but he’s learning more and he’s getting more power within the offense as we go,” Chaney said. “I’d say his limitations are how big a scope of offense you go right now, while he is still a work in progress.”
One area Eason has paid close attention to is his footwork. Given his height, Chaney said Eason is “Bambi-ish,” likening him to the Disney cartoon deer Bambi with his drops and pocket mobility.
Eason said he spent the summer fixing this area of his game.
“I’ve been working on getting my right foot underneath me in my drop, having a stronger base, being able to move around more,” Eason said. “It’s all part of being a quarterback so that’s what we’re working on.”
Since the conclusion of the 2016 season, Eason has worked on his own fundamentals while shoring up timing and chemistry with his receivers. During the spring, Wims said he and Eason worked frequently on their own time to further their rapport with one another.
This is an area Eason feels a lot better in now compared to this time last year.
“A year’s worth of work with them has done a lot more than last year,” Eason said. “The timing’s gotten better. I’m more in tune with when they’re going to break on routes and all that stuff. It’s going to continue to get better.”
Eason spent time as a counselor at the Manning Passing Academy, which also had him partake in competitions with other high-level college quarterbacks. Eason was able to ask former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning for some tips and advice, too.
Eason has started this preseason with much more understanding of not only Georgia’s offense, but of what attributes he needs to shore up. As a result, senior offensive lineman Dyshon Sims said he has seen a different Eason under center throughout the offseason.
“A lot more confident,” Sims said. “I feel as time goes by you get more and more confident the more snaps you play. It’s very exciting to see him out there.”
Eason didn’t make any grand declarations of what he expects going into year two. While he feels a bit more established as a college quarterback, Eason doesn’t feel like he has reached where he wants to be.
“I look back at it and I’m still really in the transition,” Eason said. “But it was a huge jump going from Washington high school football to the SEC.”