Whenever I talk about Jake Locker to people, and they kind of give me that fuzzy look, wondering who I am talking about, I usually just say, "he's like Tim Tebow, only better." People usually think I'm joking, but I'm shameless in my Locker fan-boyness. Then again, he is the savior to us up on Montlake.
However, my comments aren't too far off the mark—most media sources refer to Locker as either "a Tebow-like runner" or "Tim Tebow of the West."
The question in my mind is, does this put too much pressure on Locker?
Undoubtedly Jake Locker is an incredible athlete. In his first season as a starter, he passed for over 2,000 yards and ran for just shy of 1,000, all while missing one and a half games with a major injury.
Granted, he did have only 47 percent passing accuracy at the same time. This is unacceptable, but let me tell you, I would not want to catch some of his passes. He throws with a lot of heat and would just punish my hands.
Presumably this has been a point that the Washington coaches have been addressing all offseason. I know the coaching staff took a trip to Florida to consult with Urban Meyer and the Gators as reported here.
As low as his completion percentage was, he can only improve. The new group of receivers has speed and talent, but no experience, so that could become a difficult challenge for Locker to overcome.
Just remember though—at one point many were not sure that Tim Tebow could be anything more than a glorified fullback. All the major throwing duties were given to Chris Leak in 2006. While Tebow's numbers—353 yards with five touchdowns and one interception—were good, they were limited and hardly revealing about his throwing ability.
Like Locker, everyone could recognize Tebow had a cannon arm but weren't sure what he could do with it. But Tebow proved everyone wrong and threw for 3,286 yards and 32 touchdowns. I've seen Locker just chuck the ball, and if he can get his accuracy down, he will be extremely dangerous.
Jake Locker has the physical tools and the talent to win the Heisman, but he won't, especially not playing for Washington. If someone emerges to be a Percy Harvin for him, then he has a shot, but that seems unlikely. Unfortunately for Jake, while the talent is getting better, it is nowhere near a stacked level.
I firmly believe that if Locker played for one of the nation's elite schools, he would be battling Tim Tebow for the Heisman. For now though, he has to exist in Tebow's shadow—and to be honest, Tebow casts a large shadow indeed.
The thing about Jake being cast as the "Tebow of the West" is that no matter how good he is, he can probably never live up to Tebow, and therefore will always be considered a second-rate quarterback to him.
I say instead of calling him "Tebow of the West," we just call him Jake Locker. Let Locker be Locker and Tebow be Tebow. They are both incredible athletes who will be remembered by their respective schools and the college football world for years to come.