SEATTLE — Derrick Brown knew the score when he signed to play at the University of Washington in 2011.
A quarterback from Vista Murietta High in Winchester, Calif., Brown was regarded as a potential quarterback of the future when he put ink to paper and cast his allegiance to the Huskies.
But he also knew that the school would likely sign a few more potential quarterbacks of the future during his time at UW.
“Oh definitely, it’s a given,” Brown said.
So Brown took no offense last winter when UW signed not just one but two of what were regarded as among the best quarterbacks in the country in Mercer Island’s Jeff Lindquist and Denver’s Cyler Miles.
Lindquist and Miles were brought in to compete with Brown to be the backup this season to Keith Price, a spot that came open when Nick Montana — another one-time quarterback of the future — transferred after the season to a California junior college.
“They want the best, and the best are going to play,” Brown said. “So you’ve got to either put up or shut up — rise to the occasion or fall apart. I’m just trying to be that guy.”
And through two weeks plus a couple of days of training camp, it looks like Brown could indeed be that guy. While Miles and Lindquist have had their moments in practice, Brown continues to appear to be the No. 2 man on the depth chart.
If that sounds somewhat vague, however, that’s how UW coach Steve Sarkisian wants it.
While Brown succeeded Price in the rotation at quarterback in Saturday’s scrimmage followed by Miles and Lindquist — generally an indication of their order in the depth chart — Sarkisian said he won’t tip his hand as to who is winning that job. And he says he may never declare an official backup until the moment might arise when one would be needed.
“I don’t know if I’m going to make one (a public announcement), at least for you guys,” Sarkisian said this week. “I kind of don’t have to on that front. Not to be a jerk about it, but part of it is for our team and game-planning and strategy wise.”
So don’t be surprised to see two or all three listed as co-backups to Price when UW is expected to release an official depth chart, its first of training camp, on Monday.
Still, naming Brown as the backup would allow the Huskies to preserve a year of eligibility for Miles and Lindquist by redshirting this season, especially if a backup is needed only in mop-up situations.
And while Brown had some of the expected struggles in practice last season as a true freshman, he has begun to come on in recent days, turning in what Sarkisian says have been some of his best practices as a Husky.
“Derrick I think has progressively gotten better and better and better,” Sarkisian said. “He’s throwing the ball with more conviction and I think the belief in what he is seeing and reading is there, and trusting it, and in turn he is playing more confident.”
In Monday’s practice, Brown completed a 62-yard touchdown pass to Cody Bruns in a drill on a pass that went about 60 yards in the air, hitting Bruns in perfect stride.
It’s the kind of play Brown might not have made last year when he was adjusting to life as a college quarterback.
“Last year I was just trying to get my feet wet in the college game and trying to learn the plays,” Brown said. “But now I kind of have my wits about me and I know what everything is and where everyone is.”
He also said he feels more physically up to the challenge. Brown is listed at 6 feet 2, 245, but regarded as a good runner for his size, and says this year “I feel faster.”
He may need to be to keep outrunning the competition of Miles and Lindquist, whose signings gave UW what many considered the best class of freshman quarterbacks in the country.
“Of course, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t (paying attention to the competition),” he said. “But I can’t really focus on what is behind me. I’ve just got to look ahead, work hard every day.”