Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm always looking ahead

Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm always looking ahead

August 25th, 2019 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm (11) prays among teammates after a home game against MTSU in September 2018.

Photo by Kristin Bradshaw/Georgia

Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm brings two seasons of experience as the Bulldogs' starting quarterback into the 2019 season.

Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm brings two seasons of...

Photo by Kristin Bradshaw/Georgia

It's not uncommon in college football for a player to earn so much respect from his teammates that playful mocking ensues.

Take Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm and his attempts at belting tunes.

"Jake Fromm thinks he's the best singer in the world, and he cannot sing," Bulldogs junior left tackle Andrew Thomas said. "He sings all the time in the locker room. He will sing country. He will sing hip-hop. He even raps, and it's awful."

Senior safety J.R. Reed agrees, adding, "Jake likes to sing, but he can't sing."

Fromm bursts into laughter when hearing those reviews, quickly pointing out his teammates are simply jealous they don't have the same vocal capabilities.

Through his first two seasons with the Bulldogs, the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder from Warner Robins has done more than enough on the field to counter any musical butcherings. Arriving in 2017 as the backup to touted Jacob Eason, Fromm assumed the starting reins in his very first game and has guided Georgia to consecutive Southeastern Conference Eastern Division titles and to journeys to the Rose and Sugar bowls.

Fromm is 12-0 against SEC East foes with 12 double-digit wins, and his ranking among Georgia's all-time greats will be affected in several months, when he will decide whether or not to return for his senior season.

"I'm extremely excited he's our quarterback," Georgia fourth-year coach Kirby Smart said. "He is the leader of our program and the face of our organization, and he's a guy who has given so much to Georgia and Georgia means so much to."

Fromm's career efficiency rating of 165.79 so far is the highest in Georgia history, and his 23-5 record as the starter is on pace to top the 42 career victories David Greene racked up with the Bulldogs from 2001 to 2004. He's too late to be the first Georgia quarterback taken No. 1 in the NFL draft, with Matthew Stafford having achieved that distinction a decade ago.

One recent CBS mock draft for 2020 did peg Fromm as the top overall pick.

"He's a cerebral quarterback," Smart said. "He's what they look for in a quarterback — to be able to change protection, make decisions, distribute the ball. He can absolutely play on Sundays."

Whether or not this is Fromm's last season in Athens, it's already unlike the others.

Georgia was midway through the first quarter of its 2017 opener against Appalachian State when Eason suffered a knee injury on a late hit out of bounds. Eason missed the next month, and by the time he returned Fromm was guiding a team that would win its first nine games and ascend to No. 1 in the playoff rankings.

The Bulldogs would win 13 games two years ago and reach the national championship contest in Atlanta, where they lost 26-23 in overtime to Alabama.

"Jake came in and wasn't really talked about a lot as the second-string guy," Reed said, "but he kept his head down and kept working."

Sensing Fromm's grip on the position following the 2017 season, Eason transferred to Washington, but five-star freshman Justin Fields enrolled early last year to represent the next challenger.

Fromm never gave Fields a chance, relegating him to mop-up duty and random change-of-pace roles on an 11-3 team that lost a heartbreaker to Alabama in the SEC title game. After the Bulldogs fell to Texas in the Sugar Bowl, Fields transferred to Ohio State.

"It's just Jake's knowledge of the game that separates him from other players," Thomas said. "You never see Jake upset or sad. Every day it's the same Jake. He's excited to work and get better."

Nobody is breathing down the back of Fromm's neck this season, with former walk-on Stetson Bennett and true freshman D'Wan Mathis serving as the backups.

"I never worried about looking over my shoulder, so it's been more or less the same," Fromm said. "It's more about how you attack the grind every single day. It's not easy, because you have to come in with the mentality of how to make yourself better every single day.

"Competing is a big word, and I compete a lot with myself."

Fromm does have the task this season of throwing to a crop of receivers that no longer contains Terry Godwin, Mecole Hardman, Jeremiah Holloman and Riley Ridley. Godwin, Hardman and Ridley are now in the NFL, while Holloman was dismissed from the team earlier this summer.

The Bulldogs have an appealing home schedule highlighted by the first visit ever by Notre Dame and the third visit by Texas A&M, but Smart believes Fromm could be most valuable away from Sanford Stadium.

"I think the biggest difference in what he'll be able to handle is on the road in the SEC," Smart said. "He may have had only a couple of those experiences as a freshman, but now he's had two years of that, so when we go on the road, we can expect him to handle it. I wouldn't say he will handle it with ease, but he will be able to take on more.

"It's what the people around him can handle that is our concern, because we will have some young players at wideout."

Fromm says he "puts on earmuffs" when his name is linked to the Heisman Trophy, and he has deflected talk about challenging Alabama for league supremacy with a focus on Saturday's opener at Vanderbilt. Long before the trip to Nashville, he knew there would be plenty of teachable moments for the younger Bulldogs and plenty of opportunities to sing in the locker room.

His favorite song in recent weeks has been "Rednecker" by Hardy.

"I'll sing at any point of the day," Fromm said. "I just attack the day with the joy of the Lord in my heart. I try to serve and love others. I have my bad days, but I try to limit the time I have bad stuff going on.

"For me, it's just staying focused and wanting to make this team the best it can be. I want to be the best teammate I can be."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.