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Eason looks for improvement in second season
Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason (10) throws downfield during a March 28 drill at the Georgia Bulldogs' spring camp in Athens. - photo by Associated Press

    ATHENS — A long list of national high school honors made Jacob Eason appear bound for immediate success at Georgia as a freshman in 2016.
    The reality of making that big step from high school in Lake Stevens, Washington, to the Southeastern Conference was far different.
    Sure, Eason's right arm was as powerful as advertised. Arm strength wasn't enough to make his freshman season a success.
    He had to learn a Georgia playbook that seemed massive. He struggled to manage a huddle when looking into the faces of upperclassmen. He couldn't immediately make all the right decisions and call all the right plays.
    "Last year, I was a younger guy and I was trying to keep my head above the water," Eason said this week.
    Eason has renewed confidence. He said starting the final 12 games of Georgia's 8-5 season will make a big difference in 2017.
    Coach Kirby Smart, also entering his second season, sees a more mature quarterback this year.
"I think Jacob is a great quarterback," Smart said Tuesday. "I think he's somebody that understands our system. He works really hard at it. Jacob comes in and meets extra every chance he gets."
    Similar votes of confidence have come from Eason's teammates.
    "I think he's a lot more confident," said senior offensive guard Dyshon Sims. "He understands the offense a lot better and I think we understand it better, too. Understanding things gives you a lot more confidence. I'm excited to see him play."
    Eason passed for 2,430 yards with 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions last season. He threw a last-minute, game-winning TD pass — his third of the game — in an early season win over Missouri. His low points included two interceptions with only 139 yards passing in a loss to Georgia Tech to end the regular season.
    Eason is the clear starter, though he has been pushed by freshman Jake Fromm. Senior Brice Ramsey announced plans to transfer but changed his mind, and his presence provides experience behind Eason.
    "This year, I have more comfort in our schemes and our playbook," Eason said. "I feel like I can line guys up, I can tell them what to do, I can help them out when they run a wrong route, that kind of thing. I think having a year under my belt has definitely been a big improvement in my leadership and I'm only going to improve from here."