Two years ago, while the attention was on the
"Elite" QB’s of the West Coast, a (then) nationally unknown player out of
Garfield high school did something no other Washington prospect has ever done—he
won the MVP award at the USC camp--Gifted with quick footwork and incredible
speed, Isaiah Stanback has the potential to be one of the best athletes
to ever grace the field at Montlake.
During Saturday’s annual spring game, fans
caught glimpses of what could be a very bright future indeed...
Ranked as high as the 5th
quarterback in the nation during 2002 recruiting season, Stanback was heavily
recruited coming out of high school. USC, UCLA, Nebraska, Washington State, and
Tennessee were among the types of programs that went after Stanback along with
Washington, and for good reason.
Standing at 6’3’’ with 4.4 speed, he is a
threat both in the air and on the ground. During his senior season at Garfield
High School in Seattle, Stanback threw for 1628 yards and 12 touchdowns, earning
him all-King County conference honors. And that was on a team where he received
relatively no protection from his offensive line—Isaiah spent most of his time
running to avoid being crushed by defenders in the absence of any pass
With his obvious talents at the quarterback
position, it was a surprise to many fans when the local media conjectured that
Stanback may be moved to WR to give some depth to the thin position. Often
times, this is the beginning of the end for a quarterback.
Stanback certainly didn’t seem to like the
"I don’t really pay attention to [the media]; I
came here to play quarterback, and that’s what I’m trying to do," Stanback told
Realdawg.com following Saturday’s game. "I’m focusing on quarterback."
But even that position isn’t without drama. One
of the major questions facing the 2003 Husky team was finding a back-up to
record setting senior quarterback Cody Pickett. In the mix are both Stanback and
redshirt sophomore Casey Paus. Each player has shown promising signs of
improvement over the course of spring practice. Paus is a ‘classic’ drop back
style passer who can complete the intermediate passes with ease, but appears to
struggle if there is a need to scramble. Scrambling, however, seems to be
Stanback’s forte. A Stanback scramble resulted in a 16 yard touchdown Saturday.
"Right now I’m just trying to stay in the
pocket longer … normally I just take off and run under pressure, but now I’m
sitting there and looking for receivers," Stanback said.
With spring practice coming to a close, there
still seems to be no clear answer to the quarterback question. Both QBs had
their highs and lows during the spring game; both overthrowing receivers and
making some bad decisions. UW Head Coach Rick Neuheisel left the question up in
the air after the scrimmage, saying "I think it was a great day for Isaiah, but
that’s not to take anything away from Casey, I think he did some nice things …
We’ll see how it goes in the fall."
The competition doesn’t seem to bother Stanback
"I try not to pay attention to who’s going to
win between me and Casey, I’m just trying to go out and learn. He’s been here a
year and knows a lot more than I do."
Learning seems to be Stanback’s top priority.
"You can watch as much tape as your want to,
but when you’re out there in the game, that’s the only time that you are really
going to learn."
And there still is much to be done. With
flashes of brilliance during the option came some poor decisions, especially
erratic forward pitch to Scott Ballew, who almost lost the ball. "It was a bad
read; it was a last minute decision. I was about to get hit, and as soon as I
pitched it I thought ‘Oh, shoot.’ It’s just another thing I have to go back and
try to correct."
Isaiah Stanback will certainly be an
interesting player to follow in the future. He is athletic, strong, and brings
enthusiasm to a team that, after last season, seems to need it. Soon, Washington
fans may be treated to the same exciting option plays they became accustomed to
during Marques Tuiasosopo’s tenure as a Husky.
But Stanback knows there is a lot of work
"I’m my toughest critic," he said, "I know what
needs to get done."