SEATTLE – It was hard enough for Folsom High School co-coach Troy Taylor to watch his former star quarterback, Jake Browning, make his collegiate debut last week for the Washington Huskies.
Taylor said he was “a nervous wreck” before UW’s game last Friday night against Boise State, experiencing what he described as a “helpless” feeling, knowing there was nothing more he could do for the kid who threw 229 touchdown passes at Folsom the past three seasons.
“I was probably more nervous than Jake was, just watching the game,” Taylor said with a laugh after a recent Folsom practice.
Imagine what he might feel like this week, then, when two of his quarterback pupils will play in the same game.
Browning didn’t just play high-school ball for Taylor (who is the California Golden Bears’ all-time leading passer). He also learned from him as a youngster while attending “The Passing Academy,” the popular quarterback skills camp in Northern California that Taylor helped co-found.
Among his former students there: Daniel Kniffin, who won Sacramento State’s starting quarterback job this season as a third-year sophomore. He leads the Hornets into Saturday’s game against UW at Husky Stadium.
Which means that Taylor will have a personal interest in nearly every snap.
“You get so accustomed to being around the guys, you start rooting for them like you would a friend,” he said. “I hope they both play well. It’s hard to watch, I tell you.”
Kniffin, a Rocklin (California) High School alum, said he isn’t particularly close with Browning, who is two years behind him in school. But he does know him, and said they were in the same throwing group when Kniffin was a high-school junior.
“We knew each other and threw together all the time,” Kniffin said from Sacramento this week. “And I definitely plan on talking to him when we go up there.”
He’s also not surprised that Browning won UW’s starting job as a true freshman.
“I don’t know how many people know,” Kniffin said, “but the kid he beat out when he was a sophomore (at Folsom) was getting recruited to quite a few colleges.”
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