Roy Newton, a Mercer Island High School Spanish teacher and one of the track coaches, knows Jeff Lindquist well.
When asked about Lindquist’s relationship with Mercer Island students and athletes, what Newton described was someone of integrity, intelligence, above-average athletic ability, and with a natural gift for leadership.
“He is so well-liked and respected by the other students,” said Newton. “He doesn’t just hang with the jocks but spends time with friends from various school classes, and kids with whom he goes to church…in fact they sing songs together. He’s smart, cerebral, a good student. He works hard. He works hard at everything. And he’s always ready to help someone else, even an underclassman he doesn’t really know. So he’s a popular kid, gifted in all respects but, from my vantage point, still exercises genuine humility. He’s the type of kid who makes teaching and coaching enjoyable.”
Lindquist is an incoming, 6’ 3” 230 lb., four-star-rated quarterback who, in the competition with redshirt freshman Derrick Brown and incoming freshman Cyler Miles, has all the tangibles and intangibles to potentially move into the No. 2 spot behind starter Keith Price. Hopefully that won’t suddenly become a crucially important spot this season…but it could.
When both Miles and Lindquist committed to Washington, recruiting pundits considered it a coup because both could have gone to just about any university they wanted. So why Washington? Football aside, weighing academic reputation, campus characteristics, relative location by the lake and the city, etc., obviously Washington is not a bad place to go to college.
Considering football directly, the football program is again on the rise with a large, loyal fan base and a storied history in a dominant conference. More specifically, the school has a history of great QBs from Don Heinrich to Jake Locker, and a head coach with a reputation 1) as being among the best, young head coaches in the country (the primary reason Washington Defensive Coordinator Justin Wilcox gave for coming to Washington) and 2) for putting QBs into the NFL.
Lindquist wanted to “stay home” and had good reason to. How will he fare in the three-way competition behind Price?
“He has that intangible characteristic,” said Newton, “that makes other kids want to follow him; he just sticks out as being ‘the man.’ You watch him. He unites and galvanizes teammates.”
Character aside (never a good idea), how naturally talented is Lindquist?
“People are surprised at how fast he is, considering how big he is,” said Newton. “He competes in various events wherever he’s needed – the long jump and 4 X 400 meter relay [50.5-seconds relay split], for example. Interestingly, before a race, he’ll shake everyone’s hand and wish them well – no one else [on any team anywhere] does that. At the same time, he’s very competitive. I think he has his teammates’ ‘back’ in that regard; he wants to win because he wants Mercer Island to win. And I can understand that – winning as an individual is rewarding but winning as a team is ultimately more satisfying. And the other guys are with him; he’s the leader.”
How fast is Lindquist?
When shown the 2009 Arizona run by Jake Locker, Newton, who does not follow Husky football closely, smilingly exclaimed, “Whoa! No, [Jeff’s] not that fast!”
Comparisons with Locker have already occurred but, when it comes to foot speed, Locker has a unique gift. And Cyler Miles is faster than Lindquist. And bigger.
Lindquist, on the other hand, has depended more on his arm, and has worked repetitively on his velocity, accuracy and timing, while improving his field vision and ability to read defenses.
And, of course, Lindquist has been studying Washington schemes and plays. When fall practice starts, with his maturity and intellectual acumen, he could be a sophomore in freshman’s clothing. The plan is that Keith Price will play every down, and Jeff Lindquist and Cyler Miles will redshirt. But if Price, God forbid, is seriously injured, and there are still football games to win, Coach Steve Sarkisian’s philosophy consistently has been that, regardless of year-in-school or past experience, the best players play. Jeff Lindquist will approach fall practices with the understanding that, if his mind and arm eventually earn the No. 2 position, his services could be needed sooner than hoped for.
“With Jeff, if that happens,” said Newton, “he’ll be ready.”