May 022010
 
Authors: Matt L. Stephens

No one likes being forced to use the backup plan.

Whether it’s a higher-risk strategy of attack on the battlefield, keeping that love interest on the shelf until you need them or a couple having to use a fertility doctor because someone’s “special purpose” isn’t doing its job –– it sucks because it’s not what you intended.

But what’s more rough than turning to “Plan B” is actually being a living, breathing version of it.

For former Colorado State quarterback Jon Eastman, that’s his story of wearing a Ram uniform for one year.

A native of Fort Morgan, Eastman played two seasons of junior college ball at Snow College in Utah, leading the Badgers to the NJCAA Top of the Mountains Bowl in 2008 and falling in double-overtime to the kings of the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference, Butler, 37-30.

Despite missing the first nine games of the 2008 season at Snow with a foot injury, Eastman was able to throw for 804 yards, eight touchdowns and only three interceptions.
What did that earn him?

Eastman became a secondary option for CSU after California junior college quarterback Adam Froman committed to Louisville, who was then under the direction of Steve Fairchild’s good friend, Steve Kragthorpe.

Still, Eastman came to Fort Collins with the intention of winning a starting spot in the spring, as he graduated from Snow in December of 2008.

But at the end of spring 2009, neither Eastman nor Grant Stucker looked impressive enough to be named the starter, and it wasn’t until a week before the season-opener against CU-Boulder that Fairchild gave the nod to his fifth-year senior.

The 24-year-old Eastman would eventually see the field in six games during his junior season in 2009 (Nevada, TCU, Air Force, UNLV, New Mexico and Wyoming), including a start in the Border War where the Rams fell 17-16.

That lone start came in a senior day game where Stucker didn’t even suit up due to injury.

Fast forward to this past Wednesday, less than a week removed from Colorado State’s spring game, when I was able to confirm with Eastman and break the news that he was indeed transferring.
One thing went through my head: “I don’t blame him.”

Once again, now in what is his final season of NCAA eligibility (assuming he didn’t redshirt), he sat the majority of the spring behind two freshmen, a wide receiver and walk-on, despite completing 62 percent of his passes for 494 yards, two scores and three picks a year ago.

I’m all for the best player playing, no matter if he’s a true freshman or fifth-year senior. I think both Nico Ranieri and Pete Thomas are better options under center for the Rams in 2010 and still feel that Stucker was the man for the job in 2009. Yet it’s hard to take anything away from Eastman.

Disregard the fact that his stance and throwing motion make Tim Tebow look like a conventional quarterback, Eastman paid his dues while wearing the green and gold. He worked hard, listened to coaches’ instruction and, amazingly, never complained.

Sure, he’s been quoted saying that he’s frustrated he wasn’t getting as many snaps as he’d like during spring drills, just like I’m sure John Mosure and Leonard Mason are frustrated their not getting as many reps as they did last spring.

But being frustrated and being angry are on two different platforms.

When a day comes along and I’ve assigned my reporters four stories to run in the paper and our budget will only allow three to go in print and the fourth online, I’m frustrated. Due to my obvious bias, I feel sports stories should take a priority, but also know you can’t always get what you want. At the same time, I’m not angry, I’m not going throw a computer across the newsroom (if I did that, it would be because I can’t stand using a Macintosh).

Eastman never complained, he didn’t put his head down, he didn’t refuse to cooperate with coaches. He simply kept chugging along, always throwing the ball around at practice with anyone available in his down time. And that takes something that can’t be measured in quantity.

It takes class, and an even bigger amount of heart, which is why I will always respect Jon.

He’ll be finishing his college career at the University of Sioux Falls, a school in South Dakota that has won three of the past four NAIA national championships and is ranked first in the 2010 preseason coaches poll.

So best of luck, Mr. Eastman. May you always represent your community as well as you did while at CSU.

Sports Editor Matt L. Stephens can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 2:48 pm

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