ATLANTA, Ga. — Jacob Eason accepted the Bobby Dodd Award on Thursday night for being the 2015 National High School Back of the Year.
It was likely the last major honor he will receive for his high school exploits. He’s already collected the Gatorade National Player of the Year, The U.S. Army All-American Player of the Year and the Maxwell Football Club National High School Player of the Year Award of late.
The decorated quarterback explained how he handles all those laurels.
“My dad is a big part of keeping me humble and staying grounded and stuff,” Eason said. “Winning these awards is an honor and it is a lot to live up to. They were saying some of the guys like Peyton Manning has won this award. Some amazing talent. They have all put in hard work and I want to be just like them. My goal is to just go in and work as hard as I can and never let the award parts get the best of me.”
It might be the last time what he did in high school will matter. He’s a UGA freshman with four classes this semester. “The basic freshman stuff” is how he described it. Eason is thinking right now he will pursue a degree in sports management.
The 5-star prospect lives with three other Bulldogs and everyone already has already their niches.
Ben Cleveland, the 4-star lineman from North Georgia, lives in that dorm. Isaac Nauta, the nation’s No. 1 tight end, is also on that flat. Mirko Jurkovic, another offensive line signee from 2015, balances out the room.
“We all have our own little character niches to us,” Eason said. “Ben is the big country guy. Isaac is the well-known guy and then there’s me and Mirko. We all became friends pretty quick. … There is never not a good time in the dorm room. We’re all having fun, joking with each other, doing homework and just hanging out. Good group of guys.”
The nation’s No. 1 quarterback prospect for 2016 likes being an early enrollee. That’s much more enviable to him than sitting around for the summer. When the new members of the class come in, he will aid them with the transition to UGA.
“I’m excited for what is happening,” Eason said. “It is good to get this out of the way now rather than coming in with the rest of the class, so I am excited this is happening going through some humps and getting this academic part down. The biggest part is definitely the schedule of college rather than high school.”
He said he enjoyed being on his own and out of the house the most.
“I have to do all my own laundry now and do all this different stuff,” Eason said. “It’s just kind of getting used to real life. That’s the best part for me.”
The Washington native doesn’t have early morning workouts. His weight room labors follow his early classes. His tough class seems like English. Those essays loom like linebackers coming up the “A” gap.
Eason threw on the field yesterday with some of UGA’s receivers. He noticed a few things and compared it to the talent at the Army All-American Bowl.
“It was a lot like that yesterday on the field,” Eason said. “All those guys are high-talented fast guys with great hands, so the windows are a lot smaller. I think going to the Army game definitely gave me a comparison of what it was going to be like in college.”
Can he play as a freshman? He has a stout arm and all the size in the world. Can he win the job like Matthew Stafford did as a freshman? Stafford was the last top-rated quarterback to sign with UGA. That all hinges on the quarterback competition in spring practice.
“My expectations are I am just going to work hard, do the best I can and try to learn the offense,” Eason said. “Do everything coach tells me to do. Like I said before he is going to play who he is going to play and I’m excited to go in and learn from the guys they have there and compete with them and see what happens.”
He hasn’t spent much time with new offensive coordinator Jim Chaney yet. The staff’s recruiting obligations have limited that, but he’s been studying in the quarterback room trying to learn formations.
“I’m excited for the recruiting to get over so I can sit down with the coaches and learn from them,” Eason said.
Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.
Jeff Sentell covers UGA football and UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.