|Dirk Knudsen; Washingtonpreps.com|
|Jake Nelson has Lake Stevens Rolling into the Tacoma Dome and Our Expert says he is the best he has seen!|
Jake Nelson: Best in State
Jake Nelson put on a show this past Friday night. Completing 19-26 passes for 251 yards and three TDs and rushing for 74 yards and a TD, Jake thrilled the purple-clad fans from Lake Stevens and shocked the home crowd at Eastlake in a 50-21 rout.
I arrived early to Eastlake High School to catch Lake Stevens’ heralded quarterback Jake Nelson. You see, I am a skeptic when it comes to evaluating high school quarterbacks and I wanted to watch Jake from the time he got off the bus until the echo from the final buzzer was silent. So many young QBs are touted as college prospects, yet so few are. Usually, they are smaller, slower less polished and throw with less velocity than their coaches and journalists report.
By arriving early, I wanted to watch Jake go through warm-ups, hoping that he would throw some outs and curls and square-ins. I didn’t get to see those throws, but I did get to stand next to him and he appears close to his listed 6’2″. I should know about being 6’2″. After one recruiting publication listed me at 6’5″ my senior year in high school, I was measured annually by NFL scouts for four years during my time at the University of Kentucky and the result each time was… 6’1.75″.
During pre-game I did notice three things about Jake. First, from the shotgun he gets the ball out of his hand quickly. Second, his feet are quick and efficient – he didn’t waste steps and he made every throw from a balanced position. Finally, he lines up at safety on defense, demonstrating athleticism, toughness and football intelligence.
During the game, there were also three things that were very impressive about Jake’s game. First, he throws the deep ball accurately. He uses the appropriate trajectory and the ball turns the nose of the ball over well. Second, his ability to run makes him a threat that defenses have to honor. Although he lacks top-end speed, I believe he will be a threat to run even at the college level. Last, Jake seems to have a great awareness of space and timing in the pocket. He remained patient on a couple of throws that required it. On others, he avoided the rush and glided outside the pocket to buy time and vision.
While he possesses the ability to throw with above-average velocity, he does not appear to have elite throwing power. I write this with hesitation because his offense lacks the types of throws that requires power. During the pre-game and in the game, there were three throws that lead me to believe he has some work ahead of him to gain that power. Lake Stevens runs a combination pattern from a bunch formation that the West Coast people call the Pivot.
One receiver runs a deep flag route, a 2nd receiver runs into the flat, and the third runs the Pivot route – a 5-7 yard inside route where he sits underneath the dropping linebacker. Jake threw the Pivot route twice, once in pre-game and once in the game for a touchdown. However, in both cases the nose of the ball dipped at the end of the throw, indicating that it lacked velocity. The same thing happened on a simple hitch route early in the game.
In conclusion, while there are parts of Jake Nelson’s game that can improve, he put on the best quarterback performance I have seen in the state of Washington this year, and from all reports he has been doing that each and every week. The question is: Does Jake’s talents translate to the college level? I think so, but I don’t know where or in what division. He will have to find a college that fits his dual threat abilities. What I do know is this: my skepticism is gone, I had the a blast watching Jake play, and based on his performance Jake Nelson is the best high school QB I have seen in the state of Washington.