Jake Locker's Heisman Hopes Are Done But Mel Kiper And Lane Kiffin Are Still Showing Love

University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker prepared for a Heisman type season this fall but it didn't quite work out that way. For everything Washington Huskies, check out SB Nation's UW Dawg Pound. For the latest Seattle sports news, opinion and analysis, follow SB Nation Seattle on Twitter.

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Jake Locker Heisman Hype: A Case Of Too Much Too Soon?

Here’s an interesting take on Jake Locker’s failed Heisman candidacy from John McGrath on TheOlympian.com. He writes that expectations were simply too high for Locker and that stumbling early should make life easier for the quarterback and his University of Washington football team.

I can’t be hypocritical about this: Locker’s candidacy was fun.

It was fun for those of us who watch games from the press box, fun for fans, fun for Locker’s teammates and coaches.

Two years after Washington finished 0-12, the notion of the worst overall team in the land producing the best overall player in the land gave the dreary Seattle sports landscape a veneer of big-time relevance.

But I suspect a Heisman Trophy subplot to the 2010 season was too much, too soon for the Huskies. I suspect their long-range ambitions for Locker obscured the more urgent task at hand.

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USC Coach Lane Kiffin Has Jake Locker's Back

In advance of Saturday’s game between the University of Washington Huskies and the University of Southern California Trojans, USC head coach Lane Kiffin had some nice things to say to Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times about Washington quarterback Jake Locker, who has fallen on hard times after plummeting from the ranks of Heisman hopefuls.

USC Coach Lane Kiffin said Sunday night that Locker was the best player USC will have faced this season and that the 6-foot-3, 230-pound senior was worthy of projections as the possible No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL draft.

“One game is never going to define a player,” he said.

That’s easy for Kiffin to say. He didn’t go 4-20 against Nebraska. Locker did, and the piling on continues. Writes Yahoo!’s Matt Hinton

I can’t say definitively that Washington quarterback Jake Locker’s afternoon was the worst regular-season performance ever by a quasi-serious Heisman candidate on national television. Star players come and go, and their many forgettable efforts over the years have been, you know, forgettable. But for a guy who’d already been “etched in stone” as the No. 1 overall pick next year, it might have been ugly enough to cost him a little bit of money.

Whatever the scouts think, it was certainly ugly enough – in the hyped, early showcase game for the Huskies’ long-awaited comeback tour from the depths of the Pac-10 – to relegate Locker to the ranks of former Heisman candidates before the discussion can really begin.

Jake Locker will begin work on redefining himself on Saturday against Kiffin’s Trojans.

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Mel Kiper Jr. Still Showing Love For Jake Locker

This week we’ve noted that University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker has drawn criticism for his poor play in a home loss to Nebraska and been has been defended from criticism by other former UW quarterbacks.

One of Locker’s most ardent supporters, ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., continues to show love, although he does say Locker’s performance raised questions in the eyes of NFL talent evaluators.

But after the way Locker performed on Saturday — even against corners destined for good NFL careers — it’s only natural to wonder whether his great physical prowess and tremendous upside are ever going to add up to a topflight, elite signal caller in the NFL. Additionally, in this era of force-feeding rookie QBs — both Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen will start in Week 3 — will a developmental-type prospect with enormous potential like Locker be afforded the opportunity to hone his craft and be eased into the pro game? He’ll improve, but any team evaluating him for a possible high pick is forced to ask this question. And it’s a significant one.

Despite that, Kiper implies in another column that Locker is still the favorite to be drafted No. 1 overall in the 2011 NFL draft and ranks Locker the No. 1 quarterback in this year’s senior class.

The story of last weekend in college football was Jake Locker’s poor performance against a top defense in Nebraska — at home, no less — but it wasn’t enough to push him from his top spot among senior QBs… Locker is going to be legitimately pushed for No. 1 overall by Andrew Luck and Ryan Mallett among QBs, depending on whether they declare.

Kiper did make a slight adjustment to his his "Big Board", dropping Locker from the No. 1 spot down to No. 4.

Without a doubt, the media was a touch too quick to seize on the importance of a career-worst performance by Locker against the Cornhuskers on Saturday. But that quickness to criticize is a byproduct of Washington’s continued failure to put together a winning football team. If Locker played poorly while winning, the veracity of his critics would be muted.

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Former UW Quarterbacks Rush To Jake Locker's Defense

Earlier this week, everyone and his grandmother went to town on University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker for his pathetic performance against Nebraska.

Yesterday, two former UW quarterbacks stepped forward to defend Locker from the criticism.

First, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times noted that Hugh Millen said that Locker graded out much better than his 4-20 passing line would indicate at first glance.

Millen said he wanted to make it clear that it was "still a poor day’’ for Locker. However, he said taking a more in-depth view of Locker’s performance makes it clear that the passing game struggles were a team-wide failure (a point UW coach Steve Sarkisian also made today). Millen said that throughout the game, UW’s receivers got "absolutely no separation’’ from Nebraska’s defensive backs, rarely giving Locker anyone to which to throw.

He said the coverage by Nebraska "was a big factor’’ and that it appeared that Nebraska’s defensive backs were "running a 4.2’’ while UW’s receivers were running "a 5.0.’’

Meanwhile, Brock Huard wrote on MyNorthwest.com that he totally understands the struggles that Locker is going through because he went through similar strugggles.

That’s why I empathize with Locker, his family and his friends. I watched him go through the worst game of his collegiate career on Saturday against Nebraska and I know exactly how he feels. The world is squeezing in on him. All of this pressure and all of this hype and all these expectations are hovering over every snap and every move. Unfortunately, it’s sapping some of the joy of the game: the smiles, the celebrations, the enjoyment of playing college football.

But unlike my last year at Washington, Locker has nine games left to continue writing his script. I sure hope last Saturday was a chapter we don’t visit again, and the joy of being a Husky can come through.

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ESPN's Heisman Computer Pretends It Has Never Heard Of Jake Locker

Here’s more evidence Jake Locker’s Heisman hopes have been dashed.

Exactly one week ago, we noted that University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker was ranked No. 8 on ESPN’s Heisman Predictor, a highly technical mathematical formula that only people that have graduated from pre-calculus with a C or better will be able to comprehend.

This week, the Heisman Predictor is pretending Jake Locker never entered its spreadsheets. Locker has fallen out of the top 10 completely after a disastrous Saturday against Nebraska.

Incidentally, Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez has vaulted into the No. 2 position, trailing only Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett.

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Stick A Fork In Jake Locker's Heisman Trophy Hopes

It took just three weeks and two losses for expectations for University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker to plummet from Heisman Trophy to .500 quarterback. After a debilitating thumping at the hands of the University of Nebraska, it won’t be long beforte ESPN pundits pretend they never hyped Locker as a legi Heisman Trophy candidate.

No need to sugarcoat it: Jake Locker was not a good player on Saturday. 4-20 passing, 71 yards, 2 interceptions, one giant defeat. Certainly, Nebraska looked like a top 5 team. But Heisman Trophy winners make plays against top 5 teams.

Greg Johns of the Seattle PI writes

It was a Heisman-like performance by the quarterback Saturday at Husky Stadium, the three rushing touchdowns and another through the air in a convincing victory on ABC regional television.

Unfortunately for Jake Locker, the Heisman numbers were put up by the opposing quarterback, Nebraska redshirt freshman Taylor Martinez, in a 56-21 runaway by the visitors.

Andy Hutchins of SB Nation writes that Locker’s Heisman hopes have been "euthanized"…

This early in the college football season, it’s hard to definitively bury or anoint players as Heisman candidates. And yet, Jake Locker sure did his darnedest to shovel six feet of dirt on his trendy campaign.

Washington got rolled by Nebraska, a faster, bigger, more talented squad. Locker’s contributions, however, were less "heroic in defeat" and more "HAHAHA." Locker completed four of 20 passes for 71 yards, the worst marks in completion percentage and yards per attempt of his four-year career, and threw two interceptions for the first time since October 2009. He compiled just 130 yards of total offense, the sort of pitifully low number that gets darkhorse Heisman campaigns euthanized.

Andre Stepankowsky of The Daily News writes that Locker would have been booed off the field on Sundays.

As for Locker, he may have been booed off the field had he been an NFL quarterback. One should start wondering about Sarkisian’s decision to make him a traditional drop-back, pocket QB. The Huskies two-play, 78-yard touchdown drive early in the third quarter was the result of a Locker planned run and a rollout that froze the Nebraska secondary and freed up Kearse. Locker is among the best athletes on the field; limiting him as a runner, taking a dimension away from him, seems to make little sense. It’s like asking Babe Ruth to be a singles hitter.

Clearly, Locker will have to play better if Washington is going to be bowl eligible.

Art Thiel of the Seattle PI writes...

To find a big game played so poorly by a local star, longtime Seattle sports fans probably would have to go back to 1978 in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, when the Sonics' Dennis Johnson missed all 14 field goal attempts.

Locker had himself the football-passing equivalent of an oh-fer.

Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com writes that the performance was so bad it jeopardizes Locker’s draft stock as well as his Heisman hopes.

The assumption that Locker is going to be the slam-dunk, No. 1 overall draft choice next spring now is laughable. It was beyond having sub-par personnel around him in Saturday’s 56-21 loss to Nebraska. It was beyond facing a quality defense.

That is exactly what Locker is going to be facing when he is drafted by some cellar-dweller. He will not have all the weapons around him. He will have to make plays by himself while suffering growing pains. Saturday, then, has to scare some NFL teams and put a damper on the Washington season.

Have no fear, though: Locker10in10.com is still up and running.

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Jake Locker Checks In At No. 8 On ESPN's Heisman Predictor

ESPN has released its latest edition of the Heisman Predictor, an attempt to quantify the raise for the Heisman Trophy.

University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker checks in at the No. 8 position, trailing Ryan Mallett (Arkansas), Denard Robinson (Michigan), Terrelle Pryor (Ohio State), Andrew Luck (Stanford), Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State), Daniel Thomas (Kansas State) and Trent Richardson (Alabama).

Ryan McCrystal, the developer of the Heisman Predictor, explains Locker’s positioning.

Jake Locker’s Heisman hopes were hurt by a Week 1 loss to BYU (who then lost to Air Force), but this game provides him an opportunity for a signature win. Since Nebraska is ranked in the Top 10, Locker could earn up to 10 points with 300 passing yards and three or more total touchdowns. Those bonuses would likely be enough to move him into the top five.

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Jake Locker Is No. 4 On SBNation.com's Heisman Watch List

Holly Anderson of SBNation.com is one of the few remaining pundits to still rank University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker near the top of her Heisman watch list.

Anderson writes about Locker…

Still high on the list by virtue of locking very quarterbackish, and helping his case by acting like it this week, Locker threw for close to 300 yards and four touchdown passes in Washington’s slow-starting victory over Syracuse.

Locker is ranked No. 4, training fellow quarterbacks Denard Robinson (Michigan), Terrelle Pryor (Ohio State) and Kellen Moore (Boise State).

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Is This Week Jake Locker's 'Last Chance' To Prove He Is A Heisman Candidate?

Earlier we noted that Jake Locker got back on track last weekend against Syracuse but that he hadn’t received much recognition from the Heisman Trophy watch lists.

The Seattle Times writes that Saturday’s big game between the University of Washington and the University of Nebraska could be Locker’s “last chance” for serious Heisman consideration.

Nebraska not only represents a chance for UW to make a statement, but also for Locker to get back into the Heisman race — and maybe his last chance. Locker’s Heisman hopes dimmed considerably after the BYU loss. Nebraska is the last nonconference game of the season for the Huskies, and as such, the last time the eyes of the college football nation beyond the West are guaranteed to be on UW.

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Jake Locker Back On Track But No Heisman Attention To Show For It

After a Week 2 win against Syracuse, University of Washington Jake Locker has steadied the ship, so to speak, when it comes to his Heisman Trophy candidacy. Brian Grummell of Fanhouse.com writes that Locker’s candidacy was “on life support” before he threw for four touchdown passes.

With his Heisman Trophy candidacy on life support against a stubborn Syracuse, Washington quarterback Jake Locker turned to junior receiver Jermaine Kearse to wear Superman’s cape for an afternoon. Kearse responded with a trio of touchdowns to go with career highs in receptions (nine) and receiving yards (179).

A 57-yard touchdown on Washington’s first offensive play of the second half broke the game open as Kearse shook several defenders after a short reception. The Huskies’ offense surged from there, turning the 20-10 lead into a 41-20 final. Kearse added a similar 28-yard touchdown play later in the quarter, his third of the afternoon.

Locker finished with 289 passing yards and tied a career high with four touchdown passes.

Despite the performance, Locker is not ranked on either ESPN’s or CNNSI’s Heisman watch lists this week.

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Jake Locker Not Ranked In CNNSI's Top 10 Heisman Candidates

Cory McCartney of CNNSI runs the site’s Heisman Watch column and – just one week into the season – University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker is not in the top 10. McCartney includes Locker’s name in a list of players that didn’t deliver during Week 1.

Then there’s trying to make sense of the preseason contenders who either fell flat on their faces or delivered less-than impressive stat lines in Week 1, a list that includes Navy’s Ricky Dobbs, Pitt’s Dion Lewis, Washington’s Jake Locker and Oregon State’s Jacquizz Rodgers.

On the bright side, at least he has a new website!

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Jake Locker's Losing Recalls John Elway?

In a column for the Seattle Times, Jerry Brewer calls University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker “the most talented quarterback in school history” and “the most hyped quarterback in college football” but also says many will judge Locker based on his ability to deliver wins. But, Brewer says, winning at Washington isn’t Locker’s responsibility alone.

Quarterbacks are judged on winning, but it’s also wrong to blame an incredible talent for losing when the entire program is a mess. Locker has been compared to Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway since high school, and Elway’s collegiate story suggests that greatness can be obstructed. Elway finished with a 20-23 record at Stanford and didn’t lead the Cardinal to a bowl game. Then he become one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history and won two Super Bowls.

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Jake Locker Stumbles Out Of The Gate On ESPN's Heisman Watch

On September 2nd, we noted that analysts were already wondering whether University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker might be the first serious Heisman Trophy candidate to fall out of contention.

After Saturday’s loss to BYU, during which Locker didn’t exactly impress, it appears he may have already fallen out of serious Heisman Trophy contention.

In ESPN’s current Heisman Watch poll, Locker receives just one fourth place vote from a 15 member panel. That vote was good enough to put him in 13th place overall and make him the 10th best quarterback. In fact, another Northwest quarterback — Boise State’s Kellen Moore — leads the entire pack after an impressive win over Virginia Tech at FedEx Field.

Better luck next week?

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Report: UW Will Unveil A Jake Locker Tribute Website Tomorrow

Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times reports that the University of Washington is preparing to ramp up the Jake Locker hype another notch tomorrow. The school will unveil Locker10in10.com, a website aiming to promote the quarterback's success but, apparently, not his Heisman Trophy aspirations specifically. Condotta notes...

As you'll notice, nowhere is the word "Heisman'' visible. UW has been careful to portray this as simply a get-out-the-word campaign for Locker and not necessarily geared at the Heisman, though if that's what ends up happening all the better.

Locker10in10.com is not to be confused with JakeLocker.com, another website that has been chronicling Locker's success for months.

Here's a look at Locker10in10.com's splash screen that is currently greeting visitors prior to the launch. Head over to the website for the full-size version.

Comingsoon_medium

For all things Jake Locker, SB Nation Seattle has you covered.

For everything UW Football, head over to SB Nation's UW Dawg Pound.

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Will Jake Locker Be The First To Fall Out Of Heisman Trophy Race?

Just moments after University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker was built up into a Heisman Trophy candidate, pundits are ripping apart his chances.

Sports Illustrated assembled its panel of experts to vote on a variety of college football topics and the results were not pretty for Locker.

First, not a single expert picked him to win the Heisman Trophy, with six of the seven selecting Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor and the seventh going into left field with Alabama running back Trent Richardson.

Then, in the category “First Player To Fall Out Of The Heisman Race”, Locker received two votes.

George Schroeder writes…

The guy can really play — if you haven’t watched, make a point to do so — but he’s not a pure passer, and in the absence of superlative statistics, he needs a lot of wins. Washington should be much improved, but will it be enough?

Mallory Rubin writes…

There’s no doubting Locker’s talent, and NFL teams will surely be lining up to secure his services come April. But the Huskies could drop three of their first six games, and a .500 record (and matching completion percentage) won’t keep him in the Heisman conversation for long.

For more on the Huskies, visit SB Nation’s UW Dawg Pound.

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Jake Locker Heisman Hype: It's Really Not About The Money For Locker

It’s no secret that Seattle’s favorite son these days is University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker. Les Carpenter runs down the reasons why in this excellent Locker profile for Yahoo! and notes that Locker, more than just about anyone, is playing for the love of the game.

Veterans and league executives alike were outraged that this year’s top pick, quarterback Sam Bradford from Oklahoma could get six years and $78 million as the No. 1 selection last spring. More likely the new system will have a more modest rookie pay scale. So if Locker truly could have been the top selection this past spring he may have cost himself tens of millions of dollars.

But sometimes it’s not the money. Something Scott Locker learned when his son, then 17, was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels to skip college and play center field. He sat Jake down and said that the contract would be about $2 million and that he had been hanging drywall for 20 years and couldn’t make the kind of money Jake would make with one swoop of his pen. His son, if he was smart, could be set for life.

Scott recalls him looking up and saying: "Dad, if I ever asked for something you’ve always been able to get it, so maybe the money thing isn’t important."

Delaying millions is one thing. But potentially tossing away eight figures of salary to attempt to lead your hometown university on a return to glory? They make movies with far worse plots than that.

And that story, not his dual-threat capabilities or NFL size and strength, is reason No. 1 that Jake Locker is in the Heisman discussion.

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HeismanPundit.com Is Dubious Of Jake Locker

Earlier we noted that Football Outsiders took a look at the numbers and doesn’t believe Jake Locker is a very likely Heisman Trophy candidate.

HeismanPundit.com, perhaps the foremost expert on Heisman Trophy predictions, expresses similar doubts today. While many mainstream pundits consider Locker a top three Heisman candidate, Heisman Pundit barely has him in the top 10. Indeed, Locker is only ranked as the fifth most likely quarterback to win the award. Here’s the list of players ranked above Locker.

1. Mark Ingram, Jr., RB, Alabama
2. Terrelle Pryor, Jr., QB, Ohio State
3. Kellen Moore, Jr., QB, Boise State
4. Jacquizz Rodgers, Jr., RB, Oregon St
5. Case Keenum, Sr., QB, Houston
Ryan Mallett, Jr., QB, Arkansas
7. Ryan Williams, So., RB, Virginia Tech
8. Dion Lewis, So., RB, Pittsburgh

Head over to Heisman Pundit to read about their methodology.

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Jake Locker Dominates Kirk Herbstreit's 'Herbie Awards'

As we noted earlier, the hype train for Washington quarterback Jake Locker is starting to ramp up considerably, especially nationally. The epitome of college football insider is ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit, who takes a short break from his year-round tanning and hair-highlighting regimen to hand out “Herbie Awards” as a prelude to the college football season.

This year, Locker freaking dominates the Herbie Awards. Here are the lists he makes…

MOST EXCITING PLAYERS
1. Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State
2. LaMichael James, Oregon
3. Jake Locker, Washington
4. DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma
5. Noel Devine, West Virginia

QUARTERBACKS: DUAL-THREAT
1. Jake Locker, Washington
2. Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State
3. Jerrod Johnson, Texas A&M
4. Robert Griffin III, Baylor
5. B.J. Daniels, South Florida

ULTIMATE GAME-CHANGER
1. Jake Locker, Washington
2. Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State
3. Mark Ingram, Alabama
4. DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma
5. A.J. Green, Georgia

In addition, Herbstreit also names Locker as the first-string quarterback on the “All-Herbie Team”. That might be better than a Heisman right there.

For more on the Huskies, visit SB Nation’s UWDawgPound.

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Steve Sarkisian Is Starting To Sound Like Jake Locker's Campaign Manager

As a former USC football coach, UW head coach Steve Sarkisian knows a little something about hyping players and preparing them for national exposure. And when it comes to quarterback Jake Locker, Sarkisian is starting to sound a little bit like a political campaign manager. First, the Carson Palmer comparisons, and now this from Tim Booth of the Associated Press.

“He’s not just the guy from Ferndale anymore,” Sarkisian said. “This was an invaluable experience for him, to push him out there, get him comfortable out there doing the things that he’s done. He’s done fantastic with it. I think he’s really found some of his own personality and he’s allowed it to come out and get people to really know him as a person.”

But that doesn’t mean all of the Palin-esque, cheery kid-next-door charm is staying repressed.

Having a public persona is a continuing evolution for Locker, even though he’s become more comfortable with who he is and what he’s about. He loves country music and his pickup truck, jeans and camouflage are his preferred attire. His dog goes almost everywhere with his master, especially happy when they go to Eastern Washington for duck hunting.

Easy, Oregon fans. No pun intended.

In this case, it’s all about playing both sides of the fence. Play up the local angle to show a “by the bootstraps” work ethic and friendly personality. But focus on the national aspirations to force the argument that Locker isn’t just a flash in the pan way out in the nation’s isolated Northwest corner. Indeed, Sarkisian is smart to address the biggest perceived weakness in Jake Locker’s Heisman candidacy: his lack of national notoriety due mostly to Washington’s lack of success and geographical isolation. When the competition includes a guy like Terrelle Pryor — a national name for years at an elite, storied college football institution — the “good guy from a small town” angle won’t be enough.

Sarkisian isn’t doing this just for Locker, though. The worst case for Sarkisian is for Locker to have a Heisman season and not get the attention he deserved because he flew under the radar. That would reflect poorly on the entire program and undercut Sarkisian’s ability to land big-time recruits who realistically dream of chasing future Heismans. Here, the hype is a win/win for all parties involved, especially if Locker can get it done on Saturdays.

For more on the Huskies, visit SB Nation’s UWDawgPound.

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Steve Sarkisian Sees Jake Locker As The Next Carson Palmer

In 2002, USC quarterback Carson Palmer won the Heisman Trophy. Eight years later, one of Palmer’s coaches is overseeing the development of Jake Locker, who has been variously touted as a Heisman favorite and the No. 1 professional prospect in the country.

That coach, of course, is UW head coach Steve Sarkisian, who recently told Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times about the similarities between Locker and Palmer in terms of early-career adversity that both faced.

“They both came in with high expectations and were kind of savior-like guys,” Sarkisian said. “They both struggled through injury and a little bit of mediocrity throughout their career.”

Sarkisian said the immediate goals for each were also similar.

“That first year we got them, I think as much as they were maybe a little banged-up physically, mentally they were a little fragile as well,” Sarkisian said. “And part of the process for both of those guys was not only to develop a scheme around them and get the players playing well around them and fine-tuning their mechanics, but building them up mentally and getting them back to believing in themselves and the type of player that they are capable of being.”

For more on the Huskies, visit SB Nation’s UWDawgPound.

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Jake Locker Heisman Hype: Hometown Hero Puts Family First

You’d think a player with Jake Locker’s ability and pro potential would be all about the fame and money, looking to capitalize on his raw talent at the next level. Instead, Locker’s a rare case of a hometown kid looking to make his family proud, while also trying to resurrect the Washington football program.

This morning, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times took a look at Locker in his profile of the Heisman contender.

“He doesn’t want this thing to be about him, but to be about the team,” says his father, Scott. “He’s always been that way.”

And what he really hopes he carries back to Ferndale is a memento of a UW bowl game.

A Heisman victory in December? Hearing his name called as the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft next April? Right now, a Holiday Bowl appearance — heck, even a Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl bid — sounds just as good.

Locker has twice decided to give up his chance at the professional level, turning away a baseball contract out of high school and staying for his senior year at UW instead of entering the NFL draft. While he did sign a baseball contract with the Los Angeles Angels in 2009, football appears to be the future for Locker.

After toiling in mediocrity under Tyrone Willingham during his freshman and sophomore years, Locker has flourished under new head coach Steve Sarkisian. His numbers are up, and with it his draft stock has also risen. The hopes for the Huskies are high this year, centering around the strength of their senior quarterback.

The Huskies kickoff the 2010 campaign at BYU this Saturday.

For more on the Huskies, visit SB Nation’s UWDawgPound.

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Jake Locker Is No. 1 Overall Prospect On Mel Kiper's Big Board

If there’s a go-to name for mainstream NFL draft coverage, it has to be Mel Kiper of ESPN. Kiper posted his first “Big Board” of the fall, which tracks the top NFL prospects throughout the college season.

Kiper ranks University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker in the number one position on this inaugural “Big Board.” Kiper writes, “[Locker] has all the physical tools — size, arm, even speed and improving footwork. His accuracy should improve as he gets comfortable in the offense.”

After Locker, here’s the rest of the top five: Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn, Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green and Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn.

The only question we’re left with: Can the Locker hype get any bigger?

For everything Washington Huskies, check out SB Nation’s UW Dawg Pound.

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What Does Jake Locker Need To Improve?

University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker is on the top of Heisman Trophy watch lists and is regarded as a premier NFL prospect. But what does he need to improve?

According to Todd McShay, ESPN’s talent evaluating expert, not a whole lot. McShay rates Locker 95 out of 100 and concludes, “Locker has elite physical tools and he made huge strides as a pocket passer under first-year head coach Steve Sarkisian in 2009.”

In Locker’s full evaluation, though, McShay finds some nits to pick. Here are some areas for improvement.

Still will force some throws into traffic. Still needs to learn when to say when and live to fight another day.

Needs to learn to put some more air under some of his deep balls.

Two questions he needs to answer in 2009: does he roll to his right too frequently when pressure comes, and will he learn to better-protect his body by sliding, diving and getting out of bounds?

All in all, Locker scores highly in toughness, leadership, accuracy, release, arm strength and mobility. Indeed, the only category that Locker isn’t rated “exceptional” or “above average” is Intelligence and Decision-Making.

Locker will use this fall to answer those questions for analysts and NFL scouts alike.

For everything Washington Huskies, check out SB Nation’s UW Dawg Pound.

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Jake Locker Heisman Hype: Locker Is Pac-10's Top Senior Prospect

Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst, says that University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker is the Pac-10’s No. 1 senior prospect for next year’s NFL draft. Rang effusively praises Locker, comparing him to one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

1. QB Jake Locker, Washington, 6-3, 230, 4.53 Locker’s size/speed/arm strength combination has garnered comparisons to John Elway. He likely would have been an early first-round selection in last April’s draft despite the fact that he’s never led the Huskies to a bowl game or earned anything more than honorable mention all-conference honors. Locker’s exceptional talent was obvious in high school and, as such, he was recruited by every major program in the country. With little talent around him in Seattle, it wasn’t until last season that he finally began making strides as a pro-style passer. Locker led the Pac-10 with 3,188 yards of total offense, but if he is to remain the top quarterback prospect for the 2011 draft, he’ll need to make more sizable gains in Year Two under Steve Sarkisian.

Locker was the only Husky to make the list.

For everything Washington Huskies, check out SB Nation’s UW Dawg Pound.

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Jake Locker Heisman Hype: Sportsbook.com Sets 8 To 1 Odds On Locker For Heisman

You're not a real Heisman Trophy candidate until Vegas says you are.  And Vegas, or at least Sportsbook.com, says University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker is a top three candidate, trailing only Alabama running back Mark Ingram and Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor.

The odds for Locker to win the Heisman are currently set 8 to 1.

Here's the full list courtesy of Point-Spreads.com.

Sportsbook.com 2010 Heisman Trophy Odds

  • Mark Ingram (RB - Alabama) +350
  • Terrelle Pryor (QB - Ohio State) +500
  • Jake Locker (QB - Washington) +800
  • Kellen Moore (QB - Boise State) +1000
  • Christian Ponder (QB - Florida State) +1000
  • Ryan Mallett (QB - Arkansas) +1000
  • Case Keenum (QB - Houston) +1200
  • Dion Lewis (RB - Pittsburgh) +1200
  • Evan Royster (RB - Penn State) +1200
  • Jacory Harris (QB - Miami) +1200
  • John Clay (RB - Wisconsin) +1200
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Jake Locker As 'World's Most Interesting Quarterback'

John Berkowitz of SB Nation’s UW Dawg Pound is having some fun with the hype surrounding Jake Locker’s Heisman Trophy candidacy and his overwhelming local popularity. Berkowitz dubs Locker, “The World’s Most Interesting Quarterback” and lists off many of his impressive abilities.

  • He once performed a miracle, but refuses to talk about it.
  • It is said he can converse with Malamutes.
  • Women hang on his every word, even the prepositions.
  • He can speak French in Russian.
  • Sharks have a week dedicated to him.

Head over to UW Dawg Pound for the full, hilarious list.

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Jake Locker Heisman Hype: Football Outsiders Are Not Jake Locker Fans

While many are readily jumping aboard the Jake Locker for Heisman bandwagon, Bill Connelly of Football Outsiders is a bit more dubious. Connelly writes on his ESPN Insider column that Locker’s pro potential and physical tools haven’t yet added up to on-field success. For that reason, Connelly sounds somewhat surprised Locker is even in the Heisman conversation.

It’s rare to find a QB receiving such lofty preseason accolades coming off a sub-.500 season. Arizona State’s Andrew Walter in 2004 might be the last true example of such a thing, but Walter was only given marginal consideration, at best. To get the hype in the fall, you usually have to achieve to some degree the year before — if not by winning games, then at least by lighting up box scores. For the most part, Locker has done neither. His career record is 8-20, and while his statistics are solid, they have been far from spectacular so far. But as he enters what is basically his third collegiate season (two-thirds of the 2008 year were wiped out due to injury), there is still time for him to succeed to some degree.

Connelly also notes that wins and losses will play a large role in Locker’s Heisman bid. How does he think UW will fare? Not great.

Washington’s ceiling this season is likely somewhere in the 7-5 or 8-4 range.

So much depends on Locker’s further maturation; if he can close the gap between known performance and hype, he can lead the Huskies to their first bowl since 2002 — but that gap is still quite large.

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Jake Locker Heisman Hype Gets Early Start

We hear all the time about the "it" factor in sports, those players able to captivate as well as entertain, make stories as well as make plays.

There's no question that University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker has "it", his local popularity increases without bound.  Take an on-campus stroll or show up at Husky stadium and there's so many No. 10s it looks like the largest, purplest slam dunk contest judging panel of all time.  

Behind the hype is a multi-talented, big, strong, agile quarterback with leadership abilities, an easy smile and a willingness to put a team on his back.  Add that all up and it's no wonder Locker is making so many Heisman Trophy watch lists.

Todd Miles of the News Tribune writes that Washington is taking full advantage of the media attention Locker is generating, going out of its way to increase his national profile by competing in the high-stakes world of Heisman campaigns.

The Huskies have been on top of it from the start, as Vincent assembled a team to get the Locker promotional blitz rolling.

The team includes Shannon Kelly, the associate athletic director for marketing and strategic programs; Jeff Bechtold, the director of the Huskies' sports information department; and Jeremy Cothran, also from the UW sports-information office, who has been assigned as Locker's personal aide.

The university also hired DNA Seattle, an advertising firm, to utilize Locker in its season-ticket promotions.

Locker has even rolled out an impressive website, which includes this rundown of all of his offseason activities.

Will Washington's "It" QB be able to live up to the hype?  At last one nationale expert thinks so. In an early Heisman Trophy watch list column, ESPN's Ivan Maisel ranks Locker behind only Alabama running back Mark Ingram, ahead of Terrelle Pryor, another star quarterback who has garnered national attention since he stepped foot on campus in Columbus.

Maisel writes...

The NFL loves the quarterback's skills. The Dawg fans just love him. The Heisman voters won't love this senior unless the Huskies return to the winning ways of yore.

SBN Seattle will track Jake Locker's Heisman campaign from start to finish.

For everything Washington Huskies, check out SB Nation's UW Dawg Pound.

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