Jake Locker was a capable dual-threat quarterback who could’ve been a modern-day Fran Tarkenton.
During his high school and college playing days, Locker could find the end zone with his arm or his feet.
He was that good.
Unfortunately, he didn’t meet expectations in the National Football League.
He retired from the gridiron after just four seasons.
It turned out the NFL lifestyle had taken its toll on him.
Nevertheless, the story of Jake Locker is all about prioritizing faith and family and sticking to your convictions no matter what.
Jacob Cooper “Jake” Locker was born to Scott and Anita Locker in Bellingham, WA on June 15,1988.
While he was born in Bellingham, he grew up in Ferndale, a city that is 10 miles northwest of his birthplace.
Scott Locker, a drywaller, discovered his son had a passion for sports at an early age.
While the older Locker was supervising his men while they were building his family’s new home, his son went to the backyard and hit stones with a stick to pass the time.
It was his version of makeshift backyard baseball.
“All you could hear was ‘smack,’ ‘smack,’ ‘smack,’ as he hit them,” Scott Locker told SeattleMet.com’s Roger Brooks in December 2008. “I still have guys that work for me that bring it up all the time.”
Jake Locker was destined to play on the gridiron.
His father, Scott, and uncles Patrick, Mike, and John all played for the Western Washington Vikings football program.
Patrick “Pat” Locker is the program’s all-time leader in rushing yards.
He gained 4,049 yards on the ground during his heyday.
To nobody’s surprise, he became the Vikings’ Player of the Century.
Jake Locker introduced his uncle Pat when the latter was introduced into the Pacific Northwest Football Hall of Fame in 2008.
— theFinalScore.TV (@theFinalScoreTV) November 14, 2016
As for Jake, he had to wait until seventh grade before he could play contact football on the gridiron.
According to Brooks, the Locker family had a rule which forbade kids from their brood to play tackle football.
Locker took to flag football during his grade school days instead.
Scott Locker knew right there and then his son had the tools to become a football player.
“The first time I saw him run the ball in flag football, it was clear he had an instinct,” he told Brooks.
He also used sports to lay Jake’s moral foundation.
Whenever father and son attended sporting events, Scott Locker pointed out examples of players who showed inappropriate behavior, per SeattleMet.com.
Consequently, Jake grew up with a team-first mentality.
During Jake Locker’s high school days, he starred in football and baseball for the Ferndale Golden Eagles.
He excelled as a pitcher and outfielder and was named 3A state player of the year in baseball.
Locker was a dual-threat player who made his presence felt on both sides of the ball.
Aside from his quarterbacking duties, he also played defensive back during his high school football career.
Jake Locker made history when he played football for the Ferndale Golden Eagles
He was the first starting freshman quarterback in legendary Ferndale head football coach Vic Randall’s career, per GoHuskies.com.
Locker didn’t just have a rifle of an arm, he also had nimble feet.
He became a dual-threat quarterback who could beat the opposition in many ways.
During his junior and senior seasons, Locker passed for 2,917 yards and 43 touchdowns.
During that same two-year stretch, he also ran for 2,325 yards and 39 touchdowns.
While he racked up yardage like a madman, Locker pined for the ultimate prize: a state football title.
He finally got his wish on December 3, 2005.
On that day, his undefeated Ferndale Golden Eagles (14-0) walloped the Prosser Mustangs (13-2) in the Class 3A championship game at the Tacoma Dome, 47-12.
It was quite a feat considering the Mustangs had averaged almost 52 games on the season.
During January, @FSD_Supt_Quinn sat down with FHS graduate Jake Locker as he shared about his experiences and memories as a student in the Ferndale School District.
— Ferndale Schools (@FerndaleSD_WA) February 6, 2019
For his part, Locker made it clear to The Seattle Times’ Sandy Ringer individual stats took a backseat to a title:
“I could have had two rushing yards and no passing yards on the season as long as we won this game.”
“This was our ultimate goal. None of us expected anything less. This is what we’ve been waiting for all year.”
Locker finished the game with 244 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns – two in the air and two on the ground.
His 74-yard touchdown run just before halftime made it 26-0 and they never looked back.
Locker’s performance reminded Mustangs head coach Tom Moore of former Washington State Cougars and New England Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe, per Ringer:
“I remember watching Drew Bledsoe playing in high school and thinking, ‘Wow, that’s what a guy looks like who’s going to play in the NFL.”
“He (Locker) is a great athlete, a big, strong guy. It’s pretty amazing to watch.”
Moore’s son Kellen, the Mustangs’ junior quarterback, also had kind words for Locker, per The Seattle Times.
“He’s a big-time guy,” Moore said. “At Washington, he’s going to do great things.”
At that time, the 6’3″, 210-lb. Locker had already committed to the Washington Huskies football program.
He made that decision on July 31, 2005.
“I just felt like I was ready,” Locker told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s Ted Miller. “I’ve made my decision and (Washington) is where I want to go to school.”
Locker concluded his stellar high school football career by winning 37 of his 41 starts at quarterback.
He earned First-Team All-America honors from Parade and EA Sports.
Both The Associated Press and The Seattle Times named Locker to their First Team All-State squad.
They also named him the overall and state player of the year.
— Washington Athletics (@UWAthletics) June 5, 2014
It turned out Locker’s outstanding abilities as a pitcher and outfielder caught the eye of the Los Angeles Angels.
They liked him so much they drafted him during his senior year at Ferndale.
However, he turned down the Angels’ offer.
When it came down to it, Locker felt the gridiron was more appealing than the baseball diamond.
“I just liked playing football more,’ Locker told the University of Washington Magazine’s Jim Caple. “It was more fun. I was more engaged in it. So, if I had the opportunity to play either one, I would always choose football.”
Jake Locker could’ve been a big-time Major Leaguer.
Instead, he was on the brink of stardom with the Washington Huskies.
College Days With The Washington Huskies
Jake Locker decided to major in history at the University of Washington.
He traveled just 90 miles south to Seattle to start his college football career with the Washington Huskies.
The USC Trojans, Washington State Cougars, Oregon State Beavers, and Cal State Golden Eagles all coveted the signal caller from Ferndale.
In the end, Washington Huskies head football coach Tyrone Willingham won Locker over.
Locker told Brooks that Willingham’s moral foundation resonated deeply with him:
“Coach Willingham stands up for the same morals I do.”
“He wants you to be a good student, a good person, then a good athlete.”
“He and Coach (Tim) Lappano came up when I was confirmed at church. It let me know this is where I needed to be.”
Huskies fans had to wait before they caught a glimpse of Locker’s football potential.
That’s because Willingham and Co. decided to redshirt him during the 2006 NCAA season because they felt he wasn’t ready.
Lappano echoed this sentiment to SeattleMet.com:
“Thank God we didn’t play him; that would have been the biggest mistake we could have made.”
“As good as he is, you could tell he wasn’t ready to play as a true freshman in the Pac-10.”
Washington went 5-7 during Locker’s redshirt freshman year in 2006 and didn’t receive a bowl invite for the fourth straight year.
Things wouldn’t get any better a season later.
The Huskies won just four of 13 games in 2007.
Despite their continued struggles, Jake Locker showed flashes of his potential during his redshirt freshman year.
We are Jake Locker days away from kickoff! Who’s excited??
— Sidelines – Washington (@SSN_UWashington) August 25, 2021
Locker threw for 336 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions in a 30-17 home loss to the Arizona Wildcats on October 27, 2007.
He added 157 yards on the ground for good measure.
According to Brooks, Locker became just the second player in Huskies football history to pass for at least 300 yards and rush for at least 100 yards in the same game.
Not only that, but he also passed for four touchdowns in a game twice (against the UCLA Bruins and Oregon Ducks) and racked up a record-breaking 986 rushing yards for a Huskies quarterback on the season.
Despite Locker’s gaudy stats, he went through an ordeal during the game against the Oregon State Beavers on November 10, 2007.
A safety hit him so hard, he was unable to move his body’s left side as he lay on the turf, per Brooks.
Lappano told SeattleMet.com he feared the worst:
“Any time you’re standing over a person that isn’t moving you’re thinking, ‘My God, this can’t be happening.'”
“I was worried his carer was over.”
Fortunately, it wasn’t. Not by a long shot.
Locker suffered a stinger, a painful injury which can cause body numbness.
However, it didn’t have any long-term repercussions for the redshirt freshman signal caller, per Brooks.
Locker returned two weeks later for the game against the Washington State Cougars. He threw for 224 yards, two touchdowns, and one pick in the 35-12 loss.
Locker finished the 2007 NCAA season with 3,048 all-purpose yards, 27 total touchdowns (14 in the air and 13 on the ground), and 15 interceptions.
He wound up with Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors.
When the Huskies went through yet another losing season, Willingham skated on thin ice.
Good thing then-school president Mark Emmert gave him one more year to prove himself.
Nobody was more relieved to hear the news than Jake Locker.
— Washington Athletics (@UWAthletics) July 15, 2021
Regrettably, he wasn’t able to build on his momentum from his redshirt freshman campaign the following year.
Locker suited up in just four games before he broke his thumb during the Huskies’ 35-28 loss to the Stanford Cardinal on September 27, 2008.
The injury forced him to sit out the remainder of the 2008 NCAA season.
To compound Locker’s woes, the Huskies fired Willingham on October 27, 2008.
It was inevitable as Washington went a dismal 0-12.
Nevertheless, a rejuvenated Locker started with all guns blazing in 2009.
He racked up 321 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception in the Huskies’ 31-23 loss to the LSU Tigers on September 5, 2009.
He went on to pass for three touchdowns in a game four times during the 2009 NCAA campaign.
Locker finished his redshirt junior year with 2,800 passing yards, 21 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions.
For his efforts, he became an honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection and Davey O’Brien Award semifinalist.
The Huskies also won five games – a marked improvement from the season before.
Locker, named team captain for a second consecutive year, returned for his redshirt senior season and promptly picked up where he left off.
He capped off his final year in Washington with 2,265 yards, 17 touchdowns, and nine interceptions.
He also added six rushing touchdowns.
— KOMO Newsradio (@komonewsradio) August 31, 2019
The Huskies won seven of 13 games – their best record in seven years.
Locker led the Huskies to their first bowl appearance in eight seasons – a 19-7 thumping of the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the 2010 Holiday Bowl on December 30, 2010.
Locker wasn’t at his best, completing just 5 of 16 passes for 56 yards.
However, he ran for 83 yards and a touchdown.
Locker finished his college football career with 7,639 passing yards, 53 touchdowns, and 35 interceptions.
Locker, a bona fide dual-threat quarterback, added 1,939 yards and 29 touchdowns on the ground for good measure.
He also became the 25th quarterback added to the Manning Watch List in 2010.
A decade since he last donned Huskies Purple and Gold, Locker the University of Washington Magazine he’s grateful for the experience:
“It was a lot of fun. Again, I think it was an awesome experience to go somewhere different and meet and interact with new people.”
“That was a great experience and I loved it out there. I got to meet a lot of great teammates and had the opportunity to become teammates with guys I played against in college and meet guys from the other side of the country.”
“it was a unique opportunity and I was super grateful for it.”
Jake Locker was about to embark on a career in the National Football League.
The Tennessee Titans made Jake Locker the eighth overall selection of the 2011 NFL Draft.
He became the first Washington Huskies quarterback selected in the first round of the NFL Draft, per Caple.
Could he become the Titans most prolific quarterback since Steve “Air” McNair?
Tennessee, which had averaged seven wins and missed the postseason the past two years, was eager to find out.
Locker began his NFL career as a second-string signal caller behind starter Matt Hasselbeck.
He filled in for an injured Hasselbeck (who sprained his right elbow in the third quarter) in the Titans’ 23-17 road loss to the Atlanta Falcons on November 20, 2011.
Locker showed flashes of his potential, throwing for 140 passing yards.
He also threw two touchdown passes to wide receiver Nate Washington.
“It was fun,” Locker told The Associated Press (via ESPN). “I would have liked a better outcome, but it was fun to be out there competing.”
Three weeks later, Locker had the best game of his rookie season.
He passed for 282 yards and scored two touchdowns (one in the air and another on the ground) in a 22-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints on December 11, 2011.
Despite winning nine games and finishing second in the AFC South, the Titans failed to qualify for the postseason yet again.
Locker would get his chance to lead Tennesse to the promised land.
— tnsports (@tnsports) May 8, 2014
Titans head coach Mike Munchak named him the starting quarterback in the 2012 NFL season.
Sadly, Jake Locker played below expectations.
He passed for 2,176 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions in his first full season as a starting NFL signal caller.
Locker, an agile dual-threat quarterback during his days with the Washington Huskies, managed just one rushing touchdown all season long.
His best game of the season was his 378-yard, two-touchdown production in a thrilling 44-41 overtime win over the Detroit Lions on September 23, 2012.
Despite Locker’s best efforts, the Titans regressed and won just six games that season.
Just when Locker was poised to get Tennessee over the hump, fate intervened.
He threw for a career-best three touchdowns in a 38-13 romp over New York Jets on September 29, 2013.
However, he hurt his hip in the third quarter when the Jets’ Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples hit him in separate instances.
“It was a clean hit,” Wilkerson told ESPN after the game. “If it was late the ref would have thrown a flag. They didn’t throw a flag.”
Locker had to spend the night in a hospital, per The Associated Press (via ESPN).
He took the field for the Titans’ 31-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers three weeks later.
Locker converted 25 of 41 passes for 326 yards, two touchdowns, and one pick.
Titans QB Jake Locker, as he’s carted off the field, gives a thumbs-up after suffering a leg injury: pic.twitter.com/lFFFRBalQy
— BuzzFeed Sports (@BuzzFeedSports) September 29, 2013
Another three weeks later, he sustained a right foot injury in the second quarter of Tennessee’s 29-27 loss to the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars.
The severity of the injury prevented Locker from handing off the ball to running back Chris Johnson on the next play.
Locker was on crutches on the sidelines after the game.
“I was tired of having to come off the field because I was hurt,” he told The Associated Press (via ESPN).
His backup Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns in his absence.
The injury sidelined Locker for the remainder of the 2013 NFL season.
The Titans finished with a sub-par 7-9 win-loss record.
They declined Locker’s fifth-year option on April 30, 2014.
It didn’t come as a shock given Locker’s extensive injury history.
With new head coach Ken Whisenhunt on board, the Titans were looking to turn the corner in 2014.
That aspiration failed miserably.
Tennesse finished with a woeful 2-14 win-loss record and bowed out of postseason contention for the sixth straight year.
— Tradesports (@TradesportsUS) August 19, 2014
For his part, Jake Locker regressed considerably as the season wore on.
His best game of the year was his 266-yard, two-touchdown effort in a 26-10 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on September 7, 2014.
After that, things quickly went downhill for Locker and Co.
Locker sustained various injuries in games against the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, and New York Jets.
Locker’s shoulder injury against the Jets made the Titans put him on season-ending injury reserve on December 15, 2014.
Despite his tumultuous season, Locker refused to feel sorry for himself, per The Tennessean’s Jim Wyatt:
“No, I don’t. I have too many good things, too many blessings in my life to get upset about a few little things like this.”
“Obviously, it’s frustrating. It’s not easy to deal with, but I truly do feel that way.”
All of a sudden, Jake Locker dropped a massive bombshell on the NFL.
The twenty-six-year-old quarterback announced his retirement from professional football on March 10, 2015.
Locker told NFL.com’s Kevin Patra he lost his desire to play on the gridiron and wanted to spend more time with his family:
“Football has always played a pivotal role in my life and I love the game, but no longer have the burning desire to play the game for a living.”
“To continue to do so would be unfair to the next organization with whom I would eventually sign.”
“I realize this decision is surprising to many, but I know in my heart that this is the right decision and I look forward to spending more time with my family and pursuing other interests.”
Jake Locker concluded his four-year NFL career with 4,967 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 22 interceptions.
Three years after Jake Locker retired from the NFL, SI.com’s Greg Bishop revealed “football had become an addiction” during his NFL playing days.
In order to succeed at football’s highest level, he had to stay late at the team facility constantly and bring the game home with him.
There was no semblance of balance in his life whatsoever.
“Jake loved football,” retired NFL quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (who started ahead of Locker at quarterback in 2011 and introduced him to team chapel) told Bishop in 2018. “He just didn’t love being in the NFL.”
"I no longer have the burning desire necessary to play the game."
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) March 10, 2015
Locker’s agent Camron Hahn told Bishop around 10 teams were interested in the quarterback’s services after he hung up his cleats in 2015.
By Hahn’s estimate, Locker would’ve earned between $5 million to $10 million had he accepted one of those offers.
For his part, Locker has no regrets.
“But I never had any doubt,” he told Bishop. “Never once have I regretted what I did. Naw. No way.”
Not too long after Jake Locker’s redshirt senior year at the University of Washington concluded he married Lauren Greer.
His wife is a former Huskies softball outfielder who was part of their 2009 NCAA championship squad.
Jake and Lauren Locker have four kids: Colbie, Cooper, Colt, and Cade.
Nowadays, Jake Locker resides in his hometown of Ferndale, WA with his family.
Locker used part of his NFL earnings to purchase chickens and cows for his remodeled farm, per Bishop.
In the aftermath of his retirement from pro football, he did some ministry work with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Several years later, he began studying theology online, per SI.com.
Uncovered some breaking news as the lone reporter at Ferndale High School's football practice this morning. Former NFL QB Jake Locker is their new offensive coordinator. pic.twitter.com/o9pkW7ZWlk
— Eric Trent (@RealEricTrent) August 18, 2018
According to Bishop, Locker currently works “as a life coach and leadership consultant at a local lumber company.”
He and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers punter Michael Koenen own the Locker Room fitness center in Ferndale.
Locker likes to spend his weekends hunting turkey, birds, and deer.
He also loves bonding with his children.
Locker also works out regularly and throws the football every now and then, per SI.com.
He was also promoted to the offensive coordinator position of his high school football team, the Ferndale Golden Eagles, in 2018.
Jake Locker is now officially part of the University of Washington’s Husky Hall of Fame Class of 2021.