Jake Browning’s newest football chapter started Monday in Seattle.
Browning, a three-time Bee Player of the Year who set national touchdown passing records at Folsom High School, is in the running for the starting quarterback job at Washington. After enrolling there in January, Browning quickly absorbed the playbook, and he’s had regular meetings to study film and concepts with coach Chris Petersen, the Yuba High School grad who set passing records at UC Davis and got his coaching start with the Aggies.
This spring, Washington has three quarterbacks who combined have made just 30 college throws. Junior Jeff Lindquist is the most experienced, followed by redshirt freshman K.J. Carta-Samuels of San Jose. Lindquist started Washington’s 2014 season opener, leading the Huskies to a 17-16 win. Carta-Samuels excelled in scout-team drills last season.
Browning is the most decorated high school quarterback to enroll at Washington, and he’s the top Sacramento-area recruit for the program since defensive lineman Reggie Rogers of now-closed Norte Del Rio in the early 1980s and linebacker Shaq Thompson of Grant in 2012. Browning tied the national record with 91 touchdown passes for Folsom’s 16-0 state-championship team and had a record 229 over three seasons.
Also perhaps in the mix this fall will be Cyler Miles, who started 12 games last season. Miles isn’t participating this spring for personal reasons, and Petersen isn’t sure if he will return.
Lindquist said he’s been “amazed” at how fast Browning learned the playbook. Petersen also has raved about how advanced Browning is at this stage. (Browning and Carta-Samuels were not available for interviews this spring.)
All three have worked with the starting unit this week. With a backdrop of the snow-draped Cascade Mountains, Browning has fired completions in tight windows, launched touchdown passes and been intercepted. Petersen said there is no clear leader in the race.
“Jeff knows the system better than the other guys, no question,” Petersen told reporters after Monday’s practice. “But I will say, K.J. studied his tail off since he’s been here in the summer, and he has a pretty decent grasp. He does. And Jake being here for, what, two months? He knows where guys are. So I think it’s really good. It’s a healthy competition and it’s nice to see them. They work together well, and they’re helping each other, and that’s nice to see as a coach.”
Devontae Booker of Grant rushed for 1,512 yards last fall for Utah, but he decided to return for his senior season rather than enter the NFL draft.
“I just need to get better,” Booker told reporters after a spring workout with the Utes on Thursday. “I can get better at blocking.”
Assistant head coach Dennis Erickson agreed.
“Everybody can get better,” Erickson said. “When you don’t think you can get better, you’ve got an issue. And I like that he knows there are things he’s got to improve on.
“He will get better. He’s a very determined guy, and he works really, really hard. He had a great year last year, and I expect a bigger year from him this year.”
Around the region
▪ Sierra College baseball coach Rob Willson won his 500th game on March 20, a 3-0 victory over Diablo Valley College. He now has 502 victories after beating Big-8 Conference rival Sacramento City 2-1 and 5-4. The Wolverines, state champions in 2008 under Willson, host national No. 1 Delta College of Stockton on Saturday.
▪ Mitch Hart of Granite Bay is 5-0 for USC (23-6). The freshman has started six games, has a 2.47 ERA and has struck out 25 in 432/3 innings. In his best outing, he allowed just two hits while striking out five and walking one in an 11-0 victory over Washington State. He went seven innings, allowing just one run, to beat Cal Poly 9-2 on March 22 for his fifth victory.
Cameron Smith, a three-time Bee All-Metro linebacker from Granite Bay, has impressed his coaches in early USC spring drills with his strength, quickness and field awareness. He enrolled at USC in January.
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.