ATHENS — It was nice to catch up with Tony Eason the other day. Tony Eason is, of course, the father of Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason. To clear up some confusion I’ve heard out there, Tony Eason is not the retired New England Patriots quarterback. He is, however, a former receiver at Notre Dame (1985-86).
In any case, I was asking Mr. Eason this week about his son’s summer. As media members, we haven’t talked to Jacob or any of the early-enrollee freshmen since early February. And we probably won’t speak to them again until after the games start this fall, and then only if they made plays or some kind of impact in those contests. That’s just UGA and coach Kirby Smart’s policy.
To be clear, I expect to eventually speak to Jacob Eason this season.
But, to my point, Tony Eason told me that his son worked this summer with his longtime personal quarterback coach Lavelle Durant. DawgNation’s Jeff Sentell reported on that last week. Tony Eason also told me that, earlier this summer, Jacob Eason also went to San Diego to attend the Steve Clarkson elite quarterback camp. Clarkson, a former NFL player, is considered one of the preeminent quarterback trainers in America. He has a client list that includes Ben Roethlisberger, Brett Hundley, Terrell Pryor, Matt Leinart, Matt Barkley, Josh Freeman, Matt Cassel and Tim Tebow, among others.
But it was what Tony Eason told me about the training that Jacob is getting back in Athens on the UGA campus under first-year offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Jim Chaney that impressed me most.
“Those things have just become his lifestyle, habit if you will,” Tony Eason said of his son working with elite trainers. “But the real training is with Coach Chaney. He is a phenomenal coach. He could not be happier with the situation he is in. The coaching staff Kirby put together is exactly what Jake was looking for.”
NCAA rules now allow for coaching staffs to work with their players eight hours a week during the summer. It used to be only strength and conditioning coaches could work directly with the players during the offseason.
That’s particularly beneficial for a young quarterback competing for a starting job in the fall. Chaney is a big reason Jacob Eason ultimately honored his commitment to sign with Georgia last December after Mark Richt was dismissed as head coach. And the relationship between Chaney and Eason is going to be key going forward.
Like some of these other gurus Jacob Eason has seen over the years, Chaney has his own credentials for developing quarterbacks. He had Drew Brees and Kyle Orton at Purdue, Jonathan Crompton and Tyler Bray at Tennessee, and he might have done some of his best work last year in one season at Pitt.
Nathan Peterman, who had struggled mightily in his short stint at Tennessee, transferred to Pitt and posted a 138.6 quarterback efficiency rating in one season under Chaney. Peterman completed 61.5 percent of his passes (180 of 293) for 2,287 yards and 20 touchdowns with 8 interceptions. He did this while working with a 1,000-yard rusher Quadre Ellison (1,121 yards, 11 TDs) in the backfield. As a result, the Panthers were one of the most balanced offensive teams in the country with 2,429 yards rushing and 2,478 passing.
With Georgia’s tailback situation now even more unsettled, it’s hard to predict what the Bulldogs will look like this first year under Chaney. But this much we know: Jacob Eason is in Athens because Chaney came on board, and Chaney is here because Eason was coming.
Their legacies are now forever attached.
“Jacob feels extremely fortunate to be where he is at,” Tony Eason said. “… He really likes Chaney and is like a sponge, trying to learn the game from him. He is focused on getting better every day, one step at a time.”