Larson overcomes injury, headed to UTEP

There was a time when many wondered if Jake Larson (Coppell, Texas) would play organized football again. On Sunday, he silenced all naysayers with a verbal pledge to UTEP.

Larson, considered a high-major prospect at the beginning of the 2011 season, tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee during the fourth quarter of a game against Denton Guyer midway through the season. He had successful knee surgery on Nov. 9, but many questioned if he would be the accurate gunslinger he was as a junior.

Larson’s injury also seemed to scare away some of the schools recruiting him. UTEP, however, stay with him, and Larson rewarded the loyalty by giving his verbal commitment on Sunday.

“Before the season, I had a lot of interest from SEC and Pac-12 schools,” Larson said. “In terms of going to a big school, [the injury] hurt me, but I went to the UTEP camp over the summer and connected with [head] Coach [Mike] Price there. That never really went away.

“They offered me about a month and a half ago, and we were finally able to get out and visit this week. I talked about it with my family, and I decided to commit.”

Larson has built a great relationship with both Mike Price and co-offensive coordinator Aaron Price, but it is UTEP’s offensive scheme that won over the 6-foot-4, 210-pound quarterback. Larson said the Miners play a pro-style offense, which will give him a chance to develop more into an effective pocket passer.

Additionally, Larson looked at Mike Price’s resume and noticed all the quarterbacks who have played under him.

“When he was at Washington State, he coached Drew Bledsoe, Ryan Leaf and some others. They had the opportunity to play pro football, and that’s my goal,” Larson said. “I hope to get to start early and do what I want to do in football. It just seemed like a good deal for me.”

In his senior year at Coppell, Larson threw for 943 yards and seven touchdowns and completed 63.3 percent of his passes before the season-ending injury. As a junior, he played behind Joe Minden – who now is at Stephen F. Austin – but completed 18 of 23 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns. He completed an incredible 78.2 percent of his passes.

“I look back at things, and back in the day, the injury would have been the end of my career,” Larson said, “but it’s just made me want to do more and do better. After my surgery, I was up on my feet after about a week. It’s like I have some unfinished business to tend to.”