A new era of Husky football has begun after the announcement that Chris Petersen would be stepping down as head coach and Jimmy Lake would be taking over the position. Lake will bring the majority of the same philosophies as Petersen but we will most likely see some changes. With this being said, what differences can we expect and how will this affect the future of the program?
Jimmy Lake is a 43 year old California native who attended North Central High School in Spokane where he was a three-sport varsity athlete. This led him to attend nearby Eastern Washington University, playing safety for the Eagles football team. Lake had a successful career at EWU earning a spot on the Big Sky honorable mention team — he was even voted team captain by his fellow teammates.
After his career as an athlete at EWU came to a close, he was kept on the staff as a graduate assistant for the 1999 season and was later given the position as the defensive backs coach the following season. Lake would hold six different positions around the country until settling at the University of Washington in 2014 following Chris Petersen after his acceptance of the position as head coach.
Ranking in the top four in the Pac 12 conference for the first years, it was clear that Lake deserved much of the credit attributed to the success of the Husky defense during his time as coach. This led Petersen to promote Lake to co-defensive coordinator where he would have much more control over the defensive scheme. Furthermore, this was also a possible move to try and keep Lake in Seattle after garnering interest from other schools around the country, including the University of Alabama.
Since Petersen was able to bring the program back to the national spotlight it’s now up to Lake to take it even further and bring a national championship to Seattle. Petersen has already shown his confidence in Lake and his belief that the program is in the right hands.
“I can’t think of someone better than Jimmy to take over this program. His energy and ability to relate to our players is unmatched,” said Petersen while addressing the media after announcing his plan to step down as head coach. “He is ready to take this step and I have full confidence that he will continue to build on the foundation that has been set here and he will elevate the program to new heights.”
Lake has already made a huge impact during his first weeks as head coach. Notably, he was able to keep all 23 players in Washington’s recruiting class to stay committed to the Huskies — this came as a surprise to most because when there’s a shift in head coaches, there are generally bound to be a good number of prospects who will reopen their recruitment. This shows how much Lake was involved in the recruitment process and clearly indicates the large amounts of respect and trust he has as a new coach. Lake also made sure to mention other schools’ gestures of attempting to swing the players away from UW after Petersen left.
“We’re extremely excited about this class. Obviously with everything going on with Coach Pete and myself, being able to hold on to these 23 excellent players, we’re all totally jacked,” said Lake in his signing day press conference. “That’s part of the business, that’s part of the deal. We all know that. That’s always going to be a part of recruiting. I wouldn’t expect anything less. That’s their job is to go out there and get really good players.”
Giving the job to Lake immediately helped keep the recruits. If there had been a prolonged coaching search it’s possible we may have seen more recruits take their talents elsewhere, however UW was able to keep them all and hold the 2nd best recruiting class in the Pac 12, as well as the a top 20 class nationally.
Overall, with the Huskies bound for success due to a large portion of the defense slated to return and a substantial amount of weapons on offense, this is the perfect hire for the Huskies. Obviously we won’t know for sure until we see results on the field, but Lake has proved himself to produce a promising future for the team. Moreover, Lake has put the offense in the hands of former NFL running back coach, John Donavan, where the two will have the tough task of finding a replacement of Jacob Eason at quarterback.