Browning ready for final season at Washington

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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Four years ago, Jake Browning was getting ready for his senior year at Folsom High, and a football season that would end not only with several individual accolades, but also a perfect 16-0 season and CIF state football championship.

Now in 2018, Browning, 22, is preparing for his final season at the University of Washington. The three-year starter is excited for his senior year, as he looks to cap his collegiate football career with a fun and successful season.

“My freshman year, it was like I was thrown to the fire and had to adjust on the fly,” Browning said. “Obviously, I had some rough games that year, but I was able to bounce back and have a good sophomore year.”

By all accounts, Browning’s freshman year was much better than he made it sound. As a true freshman, Browning started 12 of Washington’s 13 games, completed 63 percent of his passes and threw for 2,955 and 16 touchdowns, against 10 interceptions. The Huskies won seven games and lost six, and finished the season by beating Southern Mississippi in the Cotton Bowl.

Browning had more than just a good sophomore year, as he finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting. Throwing for 3,430 yards and 43 touchdowns, Browning led the Huskies to a Pac-12 title and a spot in the college football playoffs where they lost to Alabama, 24-7, in the semifinals. The Huskies finished the season with a 12-2 record and ranked fourth in the country.

Browning’s numbers dropped significantly last year during his junior season when the Huskies’ team was ravaged by injuries. While Browning threw for 2,719 yards and 19 touchdowns, he completed a career-best 68 percent of his passes and threw only five interceptions. The team had another good season, winning 10 games against only three losses.

“I kept battling my junior year, and we put together back-to-back 10-wins seasons, which is pretty impressive,” Browning said. “A lot of different things went into last season, and we had a lot of injuries and we had to adjust. We ran the ball a lot more and had success with it. Myles’ (Gaskin) numbers went up, and mine were down. You go with what you do well, and we were good at running the ball.

“On surface, you look at the numbers and it was a major step down, and there were games I could have played better in. There are things I need to work on and do better at. But when you dive into it, it’s hard to recover when guys are in and out of the lineup. We were 10-2 heading into the bowl game and if we win that game, I think most people would have felt it was a successful season.”

For the second straight year, Browning and the Huskies lost in the bowl game, falling to Penn State in a competitive game, 35-28.

While winning a Pac-12 championship has been the highlight of Browning’s three-year career at Washington, the two biggest disappointments were the losses to Alabama and Penn State in the bowl games. Now looking to his senior year, Browning is hoping for good things.

“You never know how it’s going to go,” Browning said. “We’ll see if we have some young guys who can step into the lineup. I’m going to lock in and go through it all for the last time.”

Next April, Browning should be one of the quarterbacks chosen in the 2019 NFL Draft.

“It’s a cool situation to be in,” Browning admitted. “I’m pretty excited for the season and to play with my teammates. I just want to enjoy it all.”