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Monday, August 3, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Quality, quantity at QB for Eagles

All-American Adams leads 5-man unit

Redshirt sophomore Jordan West enters the season No. 2 on the EWU depth chart. (Dan Pelle)
Redshirt sophomore Jordan West enters the season No. 2 on the EWU depth chart. (Dan Pelle)

Zak Hill’s plate is full.

It’s Five Guys every day, with double helpings for two-a-days – and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I’m having fun,” Eastern Washington’s quarterback coach said before running on to Roos Field to take charge of an All-American, a confident backup and three freshmen who all hope to lead the Eagles at some point in their careers.

“I’d sure rather have five than two,” said Hill, recalling the spring of 2012, when he had just Vernon Adams and Anthony Vitto in camp after the graduation of Walter Payton Award winner Bo Levi Mitchell.

Now Adams is coming off an All-American sophomore season and helping Hill tutor an eager, promising group of young players who’ve yet to take a snap in a college game.

Are they nervous? Not a bit. Late in last week’s scrimmage, true freshman Reilly Hennessey came off the bench and fired a 27-yard touchdown pass to former Camas High teammate Zach Eagle.

“That was kind of surreal,” said Hennessey, who claimed head coach Beau Baldwin gave him a choice on what the play would be. “It was really fun that it was Zach who caught the ball.”

Chest bumps followed, with Adams leading the charge.

“That was a lot of fun for all of us,” said Hill, a former Division II All-American quarterback at Central Washington who’s tasked with bringing a new generation up to speed.

They include:

• Jordan West, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound redshirt sophomore from Maple Valley, Washington, who’s entering his third year in the program and is all but certain to be No. 2 on the depth chart.

“Heaven forbid something should happen to Vernon, but I feel that I’m ready to take over if need be,” said West, who looked sharp in Saturday’s scrimmage while completing five of six passes for 48 yards and a touchdown.

Hill likes what he’s seen from West since the beginning of spring ball. “The big thing was his confidence making checks, plus he has a very strong arm and he’s very (quick) for as big as he is.”

• Conner Richardson, a 6-2, 215-pound redshirt freshman from Burien, Washington, who operated out of a wing-T triple option in high school but is progressing in Eastern’s wide-open offense.

“Conner is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen,” Hills said. “We’re very comfortable with him.”

• Hennessey, a 6-3, 200-pounder who committed to Eastern last summer after throwing for 3,387 yards and 38 touchdowns and leading Camas, Washington, to a 13-1 record.

• Gage Gubrud, a 6-2, 190-pound true freshman from McMinnville, Oregon, an all-state performer who completed 139 of 223 passes (59.7 percent) of his passes as a senior last fall.

It’s a varied group, to be sure, with the common denominator being Adams – the young guys have the best role model possible.

Said Hennessey, “You’re able to watch how he carries himself on and off the field – everything he does is precise and thoughtful.”

To be able to be here every day and see how he goes about his everday routine is awesome for a redshirt freshman,” Hennessey said.


The Eagles announced team captains Thursday morning, and all are seniors. They include center Jase Butorac, a center from Sammamish, Washington; Cory Mitchell, a wide receiver from Katy, Texas; Ronnie Hamlin, a linebacker from Lacey, Washington; Dylan Zylstra, a defensive tackle from Kent, Washington; and Tevin McDonald, a safety from Fresno, California. … … Fans can expect more situational drills at Saturday’s scrimmage, including red zone and short yardage scenarios. The scrimmage is scheduled to begin at 9:50 a.m.

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