Part of the reason why there has been so much attention heaped upon underclassmen quarterbacks Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and Ryan Mallett (among others) has been the disappointing play of senior NFL passing prospects Jake Locker and Christian Ponder.
Locker's play has been particularly troubling this season due to the expectations that he make similar gains in Year Two under Steve Sarkisian as he'd made last season.
Locker has struggled with consistency in reading defenses and with his downfield accuracy.
After missing Washington's last game -- a blowout loss on the road to No. 1 Oregon -- Locker is running out of time to turn around his senior season.
Tonight, in a home showdown with former Washington head coach Rick Neuheisel and the UCLA Bruins, he'll get a significant test.
For as bad as the Bruins (4-5, 2-4 in the Pac-10) have been this season, they feature some legitimate NFL talent on the defensive side of the ball, including potential high round prospects Akeem Ayers (OLB) and Rahim Moore (FS).
Ayers' athleticism makes for a particularly interesting matchup for Locker. UCLA has enough speed on defense that Locker may not be able to simply run for first downs -- he'll have to throw for them -- giving pro scouts an opportunity to see how he'll fare in a pressure situation.
The Huskies (3-6, 2-4 in conference) need to win their final three games to assure an invitation to a bowl game. Washington has not been to a bowl game during Locker's career.
Each Friday, I highlight five prospects I'll be focusing on during Saturday's games. Locker, however, would certainly rank among those I'll be scouting closely this week.
Many football fans will elect to watch the pro game tonight (Chicago vs. Miami on NFL Network). I, and more importantly, many NFL scouts will instead be focusing on UCLA vs. Washington.
This game begins at 8:00 pm EST and will be televised on ESPN.