football Edit

Easons father discusses Georgia drama

For Jacob Eason and his family, it was about the relationships.
It was that way in the beginning when the five-star quarterback from Lake Stevens, Wash., committed to Georgia in July while Mark Richt was coach and everything in Athens seemed so sure and so settled.
It was the same way on Tuesday when the sixth-best prospect in the 2016 class reaffirmed his commitment to the Bulldogs after long and difficult deliberations between his three finalists - Georgia, Florida and Washington.
Georgia's process to keep Eason started hours after it hired Kirby Smart, who served as Alabama's defensive coordinator since 2008 but has no head coaching experience.
Thrilled to hear the news! Now, who wants to catch a @skinnyqb10 post? Better have some jets! #Squad16 #CommitToTheG- Coach Kirby Smart (@KirbySmartUGA) December 15, 2015
"It was about the coaches," said Tony Eason, Jacob's father. "We wanted to see who they brought in. Once Kirby (Smart) got the job he was out here on a jet within 20 hours, no sleep and talking to Jake.
"That was more of a meeting to get to know him as a person. He didn't even know who his coordinator was going to be. We talked about style, what kind of system he wanted to run and what his ideas were. We got that but we really didn't know the people and who the hires were going to be.
"What I did get from Kirby is some of the intangibles you look for in a person, the integrity, the honesty, what kind of person he was and we got a really good feel he's a guy Jacob could play for."
The Easons needed to not only trust Smart - and quickly - but get a true sense of what offensive system would be implemented. Despite having no coordinator hired and being in the first few hours of his regime, Smart convinced the Eason family that his system would suit the five-star's strengths.
"Just like that thing in Mark Richt or Chris Petersen, when Jacob is playing at the highest level of his game and he's feeling it, it's when he has a coach like that," Tony Eason said.
"Kirby met that criterion for us. He's young, I get that, he's inexperienced in that he's never been a head coach but Jake was so tied into Georgia and Kirby has history there, I just think it was a really good match."
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Smart did some convincing but there was still guarded optimism. Who would be the offensive coordinator? Tony Eason scoured social media, talked to some coaching contacts and even on the airplane ride last weekend across the country for Eason's official visit in Athens, things had not been finalized.
Then the news broke that former Pittsburgh coordinator Jim Chaney was coming to Georgia. The Easons had long and detailed discussions with him and a comfort level was being developed.
"We got on a plane to go to Georgia for his official and we didn't know who the OC was going to be," Tony Eason said. "I said, 'This will be interesting if we get down there and we don't know.' That would have been a tough situation for us.
"I told Kirby that earlier, that it was going to be really important to us. I give Kirby credit because he got that done. They sent a private jet up there for Chaney … and he sat down with us and that was a great meeting.
"We sat down in a room and he broke film down. He had Jake break film down and he wanted to get a feel for where Jake was mentally with the game, coverages and what did they call there and going from there. I really enjoyed watching those two interact."
For a father, for someone who played and understood the game, that was a crucial step in the decision to pick Georgia.
"I was sitting back and observing that and reading my kid's body language and I just think they're going to be a really good match," Tony Eason said. "That's the feel I wanted to get, the affirmation that it would be all right.
"They can run the ball, they can throw the ball, he's done both. The mark of a good coach is you play to the strengths of the guys on the team. I have a really good feeling he's going to analyze what Georgia's strengths are based on their personnel and play to that strength and then recruit the heck out of their weaknesses. We already talked about that."
Chaney's hire was an important step. Georgia landing offensive line coach Sam Pittman from Arkansas might have been even more crucial for Eason, who threw for 3,585 yards with 43 touchdowns and six interceptions this season.
"The icing on the cake was the o-line hire," Tony Eason said. "You want to talk about all these people looking at quarterback development and the latest gurus and you have to fly your kid here or there, that o-line coach is more important than any of that. If you don't have a solid line up front your quarterback isn't going to play well and he's going to look terrible."
So on Tuesday, after being named the Gatorade National Football Player of the Year, Eason announced he would stick with the Bulldogs.
What looked like a simple decision, a future playing for Richt in Athens, turned into something much different in recent weeks. It's been a trying time for the Easons but also a tremendous learning experience.
"If you talk to anybody in the country, nobody would've expected Mark Richt to get fired," Tony Eason said. "Maybe not, I guess there are some people but I thought he was pretty stable.
"Jake felt so good about that and (Mike) Bobo got us down there and he fell in love with Georgia and then Bobo leaves. (Brian Schottenheimer) comes in and he really liked him. The personal relationships were always there and we always had Richt as our rock.
"Jacob said he was going to put his faith into Mark and he wasn't going to worry about what else is going on. He was let go and that was tough. That was rock bottom for us."
That's when a future at Georgia was not so certain. That's when Florida became a serious contender and Washington got heavily involved. The Easons were not scrambling but there was some uncertainty about what was going on.
I would like to thank everyone who has helped me in this process, I will be announcing the university that I will be attending tomorrow 🙏🏻- Jacob Eason (@skinnyqb10) December 15, 2015
"In hindsight, I think families should go through the process and probably do a better job of figuring out what their No. 2 is even though they're so committed to a school because you never know what can happen just so you're not in such a rush like we were," Tony Eason said.
"That's why we shut down communication with the press and blocked out all the noise. We focused on three programs. Jacob was really focused on those programs that he liked and took his visits there and did some soul searching and came to this decision on where he wanted to spend his next four years."
And Georgia fans can finally breathe.
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