Why former Washington QB commit Jackson Stratton landed at Colorado State: “We call him ‘Sunshine’” – The Denver Post

Jackson Stratton spent seven months committed to play football for the University of Washington when the Huskies pulled the rug from under his scholarship offer.

The star La Jolla (San Diego) High School quarterback scrambled to pick a new school. His options were limited with just one week left until the early signing period in December as the majority of programs were already locked in.

“It was definitely surprising. It came out of nowhere,” Stratton said. “At the time, it was pretty rough because I didn’t know what I was going to do. … But it all worked out. It’s perfect.”

Colorado State head football coach Jay Norvell certainly agrees. The Huskies’ loss is the Rams’ gain.

Stratton will enroll early at CSU later this month as the surprise quarterback gem from Norvell’s first signing class with a big arm and an impressive California flow of blonde hair.

“We call him ‘Sunshine,’” Norvell said, referencing the long-haired California-raised quarterback from the movie “Remember the Titans.” “We love this guy.”

The 6-foot-4, 205-pound quarterback’s recruitment was hampered by a limited junior season amid the coronavirus pandemic. Stratton still finished his four-year prep career with 4,469 yards passing and 52 touchdowns. He brought La Jolla to its first state championship appearance in school history as a sophomore. Then Stratton went 5-0 in a COVID-shortened junior season.

“He absolutely lit things up,” La Jolla coach Tyler Roach said. “Some just incredible numbers he put up against some good competition. That’s when his recruiting really got going.”

Norvell gave Stratton his first FBS scholarship offer to play at Nevada. Washington entered his recruitment conversation one month later. Stratton committed to the program under head coach Jimmy Lake and offensive coordinator John Donovan. Then UW’s athletic leadership team fired Lake near the end of the 2021 season and hired Kalen DeBoer of Fresno State — who ultimately declined to honor Stratton’s prior scholarship offer.

But Norvell stuck with Stratton.

“We recruited him early and had a great relationship with him and his family,” Norvell said. “It’s just time and circumstances that we were able to get him here. … A big, tall kid with a big arm. A real competitor.”

CSU has lacked consistency at quarterback over four consecutive seasons without a bowl appearance. Todd Centeio, a two-year starter under former head coach Steve Addazio, transferred to FCS James Madison in the offseason. It all sets up for an intriguing quarterback battle this spring with Norvell intent on bringing the Air-Raid offense to Fort Collins.

“How could you not be excited? He’s talking about throwing the ball and letting it go,” Stratton said. “That’s perfect for me.”

Nevada quarterback transfer Clay Millen, incoming freshman Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi and Stratton will all likely compete for the starting job. What might set Stratton apart?

“His grittiness,” Roach said. “He’s a tough and scrappy dude. He’ll stand in the pocket and take shots. When he gets hit, he never once in four years laid down on the ground. It didn’t matter how bad he was hit. He pulls himself off the ground. … He’s a true Southern California guy. Real laid back with the long hair flowing. He lives right near the beach.

“But when he hits the field, it’s a different beast.”

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