Locker Ready If Washington Coaches Come calling

Oct. 20, 2006

SEATTLE (AP) - Washington freshman Jake Locker is adept at roleplaying, portraying opposing quarterbacks John David Booty, MattMoore, Ben Olson and Paul Thompson this season.

Should coach Tyrone Willingham come calling in the next fewweeks, Locker's ready to take a new role -- starting quarterback atWashington.

'I feel like I'm ready to play. The coaches know, they've beendoing this a long time, they've been around a lot of players. Ithink they have a pretty good idea when somebody is ready,' Lockersaid this week. 'If they feel like it's the right time, I'mconfident in their decision.'

Last week's season-ending foot injury to Huskies' startingquarterback Isaiah Stanback has fueled the debate of whetherLocker, one of the top high school seniors in the country a yearago, will redshirt, or be given a chance as a true freshman.

That will depend on how well junior Carl Bonnell does. He'smaking the third start of his career on Saturday at No. 11California. Washington's depth chart lists Johnny Durocher asBonnell's backup with Locker somewhere in the mix.

Willingham wouldn't commit to anything about Locker earlier thisweek. He said Stanback's injury moves Locker 'one step closer'and continually reiterated that 'we will do what's best for theindividual and what's best for the team.'

Some of Willingham's rhetoric rubbed off on Locker.

'The coaches are going to do what's best for me and what's bestfor this team,' Locker said. 'Whatever they feel is the bestchoice for the team, I will support them 100 percent whatever theydecide.'

Locker's raw talent is without question. As a senior at FerndaleHigh School, about 95 miles north of the Washington campus, Lockerscored a combined 51 touchdowns passing and running in leading histeam to a state championship.

While Locker is not as fast as Stanback, the freshman does havemany of the same skills to run and pass, making for a smoothtransition of the Huskies offense. So does Bonnell.

But that's not the case with DuRocher, who is more of atraditional drop-back passer and doesn't run well. DuRocher'sdeficiencies have added to the question of who Willingham will turnto if Bonnell struggles. DuRocher is more than confident in hisfreshman friend.

'I thought Jake was ready in August to play. I still think he'sready,' DuRocher said. 'I think he's more prepared than August.If he gets an opportunity to play on Saturday, he'll do fine.'

Learning is the theme of Locker's first season, so far. He hasworked as the scout team quarterback each week, going against theHuskies' No. 1 defense. Locker has also traveled to every roadgame, always ready if the call came.

He was expected to get additional reps with the Huskies' No. 1offense this week.

Opportunity is now the question. The Huskies' stated goal sinceAugust has been playing in a bowl game, and they are just two winsshy. If Bonnell falters, the debate will be using Locker andpossibly playing in December, versus have a full season ofeligibility for Locker down the road.

The last true freshman to start at quarterback for Washingtonwas Marques Tuiasosopo in 1997, who lost his only start as aninjury replacement for Brock Huard. Still, playing Tuiasosopo as afreshman didn't hurt the Huskies -- he led them to a Rose Bowlchampionship in 2000.

Locker doubts he'll hear anything from the coaches until thedecision is made.

'I don't know anymore than you guys what the outcome is goingto be if I get in the game,' he said.

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