NEW ORLEANS — ESPN reporter Holly Rowe has kept steady nerves through some of the most exciting and high-pitched moments in sports history.
But Jake Fromm left her overwhelmed with emotion.
Fromm, a junior quarterback who recently surprised many football experts by declaring himself eligible for the 2020 NFL Draft, was asked by Rowe at the Sugar Bowl about staying positive.
Rowe shared with DawgNation on Saturday why Fromm’s answer brought her to tears, and how former UGA quarterback Justin Fields triggered Georgia fans.
“I’ve met Jake quite a few times, we’ve done a lot of his games obviously, and in the summer when we come and visit Georgia, we get to spend some time with Jake, so I feel like I know him fairly well,” Rowe said.
“It’s interesting because Jake has taken a lot of criticism from Georgia fans this last year, and I think the success that Justin Fields was having kind of exacerbated what they thought he was or wasn’t doing at Georgia,” she said.
Indeed, it seemed each of Fromm’s throws were put under the microscope after a 20-17 overtime loss to South Carolina.
This, even though it was evident the Bulldogs’ receiving corps was lacking.
The constant negativity might have contributed to Kirby Smart sending other offensive leaders to media interviews in November instead of Fromm.
Smart publicly reassured Fromm after a 24-17 win over Florida, their embrace one of the signature moments of the season.
Fromm showed up in New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl seemingly refreshed after time hunting and with family, and he led UGA to a 26-14 win over Baylor.
Rowe sensed that vibe, and applied her reporting expertise to get to the root of it.
“I just wanted to ask him how he’s staying so positive with everyone criticizing him, and his answer blew me away,” Rowe said. “Because it wasn’t just an answer of like, ‘oh you know I don’t listen to it, or I don’t read stuff.’
“I literally just started crying in the middle of his interview, because it wasn’t what I expected. And it was better and more beautiful than I could have expected. So it doesn’t surprise me, that’s who he is. But that’s what allows him to be such a positive light in this world, and it was a really beautiful moment that we got to share.”
Even though Fromm doesn’t have a high NFL draft grade and isn’t expected to raise his stock at the NFL combine, Rowe said she thinks the outgoing UGA quarterback is ready to make the jump.
“I thought he was ready. And I think he’s done a lot at Georgia,” Rowe said. “I think the only thing he didn’t do is win a national championship, maybe.
“But I think he’s had a great career, and I think he sees his opportunity. I support him in everything he wants to do. He’s a great kid.”
Fromm will indeed be remembered fondly at Georgia, even as Bulldogs’ fans have excitedly turned the page with enthusiasm for graduate transfer Jamie Newman.
Rowe, no doubt, will be back in Athens this summer to get to know the next Georgia quarterback.
ESPN reporter Holly Rowe