The word was wow. Maybe even follow that with about a half-dozen exclamation points or a salty coaching phrase or two.
That was the assessment DawgNation gathered from Jacob Eason’s long-time trainer on how he looks after six months at Georgia.
“He’s blowing the old Jacob Eason out of the water right now,” Lavelle Durant said. “I haven’t been as impressed at what Jacob can do throwing the football in a long time as I am right now. Probably ever.”
Bear this in mind: Eason went to Georgia rated as a five-star quarterback and either the No. 1 or No. 2 quarterback in the nation along his prep career. He was named the 2015 Gatorade National Football Player of the Year last December. That’s the guy Durant was comparing him to.
Durant has seen Eason throw more passes than just about anybody. Tony Eason — his father — might be the only exception. The West Coast quarterback trainer wished Eason well back in January. The UGA freshman was on his way to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and then to Athens.
Eason has put on some 30 pounds since he arrived in January at UGA. (Randy Schafer / Special )
A lot has changed. Durant recently put the new-and-improved Eason through his paces across five workouts when the talented freshman crossed three time zones to return home to Washington.
“Wow,” Durant said. “That was my honest reaction the first time I saw him. We called him ‘Skinny’ back then, but he isn’t skinny anymore. He looks real good. Real real good. He was defined. He looked so different. So strong. He’s filling out his frame. He’s excelling on that eye test now. He just looks huge.”
The two interact on SnapChat almost every day. Eason sent Durant a picture after his first month at UGA and wanted him to check out his abs. He was working on bringing a washboard home from Georgia. Durant estimated that Eason gained 20 pounds “right away” in maybe his first month-to-two months in Athens.
“He showed up right in the middle of winter workouts,” Durant said. “I remember him telling me he was going to hit it hard. He was telling me he was going to hit it hard, but when I saw him I could tell that he really did hit it hard.”
The other big revelation was how that new muscle and weight affected his ability to spin the ball. Durant compared it to a pitcher who used to throw 93 miles per hour that can now touch 100 on the radar gun.
UGA freshman Jacob Eason on his first Dawgwalk trot. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
“That’s safe to say he went from a 93 to a 99,” Durant said. “No stretch there. He has a lot tighter spiral. Skinny every now and then would flick a duck toward you in high school. It would be 79 miles per hour. He came with his father on the first workout he got back home with me and we were training. When he went to go grab some water, I went over and talked to his dad. I told his father he throws the ball now with so much more conviction. It is a tighter ball and an even quicker release than he had before.”
His long-time trainer also noticed more touch.
“He looked more smooth throwing the ball,” Eason said. “Everybody that knows him from high school saw he basically did whatever he wanted when it came to throwing the ball. That meant he would throw from different angles. Back-foot throws. Forcing the ball. Now he looks more natural and confident throwing. You can tell he is just physically more strong and he’s using more of his mechanics and technique rather than dipping down into that cannon of an arm.”
Durant said that Eason went to Georgia “psyched and stoked and confident but not overbearing.” He wanted to be bold, but not cocky and overbearing.
“He told me it goes by fast and he likes that he’s really being pushed there at Georgia,” Durant said. “He feels like he is learning like crazy. He thought it was going to be more difficult than it actually is but the coaches have found a way to make things easier for him. They are helping him out big-time and teaching him a lot.”
Eason rolls left on the move during G-Day at Sanford Stadium. (David Barnes / UGA)
Durant asked Eason what his goals were for his freshman season.
“I asked him that before he came home in May and he told me something that I thought reflected where his mind is at right now,” Durant said. “He said his only goal was just to learn the offense. He wanted to learn it and be comfortable with it.”
Can he play right away? Durant feels that will be the key.
“I can’t say when he will be ready to go yet,” Durant said. “But if they for whatever reason throw him in there I think he will be ready to play for Georgia if they need him by the time August rolls around.”
Another takeaway to him was that Eason understands throwing angles a lot better than before. Durant saw through five workouts how we would trust in his mechanics and technique and not just rely on that big arm to make plays. Durant was at G-Day and noticed that sometimes Eason still can play more reactive.
He might drift from what he’s trained to do during the heat of a game. Some of those elements remain, but they appeared less frequently to him at G-Day in his professional opinion.
“He’s just really impressive to me right now,” Durant said. “He throws the ball a lot differently. A lot better. He is even over the top on his throws a lot more now.”
Durant makes a point to ask Eason how he is fitting in aside from how much better his deep ball is looking. He basically moved from the Northwest corner of America to the Southeastern edge. That’s only 2,731 miles of distance to adjust to.
“I wanted him to acclimate real fast and enjoy himself,” Durant said. “I didn’t want it to just be about football and becoming a better player. I know he loves it. He feels like he is at home. Georgia has welcomed him with open arms. He loves the people. I can tell you that Jacob and Ben (Cleveland) and (Isaac) Nauta have already formed this unbreakable bond together. He loves it there. Georgia is definitely his second home. I can tell you that he will be a guy who comes back to visit Georgia even after his playing days at Georgia.”
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. Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.
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