How college friends Jacob Eason and Jake Fromm didn’t let competition ruin their NFL hopes

Georgia football-Jacob Eason-Jake Fromm
Jake Fromm and Jacob Eason took different paths to arrive in Indianapolis.

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How Jacob Eason and Jake Fromm both got back together at 2020 NFL Draft

INDIANAPOLIS — Prior to the biggest week-long job interviews of their lives, Jacob Eason, Jake Fromm and Charlie Woerner all got a chance to catch-up. All three players and former Bulldogs are in Indianapolis this week taking part in the 2020 NFL Combine with hopes of impressing a future employer.

But on Monday night, the three just got a chance to just be old pals catching up.

“He actually came and hung out with me and Charlie Woerner in our room last night and talked, and made things back the way they used to be,” Fromm said. “So really excited for him and his future and whoever he ends up.”

Eason and Woerner both arrived as members of Georgia’s 2016 signing class, Kirby Smart’s first at Georgia. Fromm arrived a year later. They all played key roles in shaping the early part of Smart’s tenure at Georgia, with Eason starting 12 games as a freshman and Fromm starting 14 the next year.

Given that both Eason and Fromm were top 50 overall prospects coming out of high school, it’s no surprise that either player is speaking and meeting with NFL decision-makers this week.  But how both Eason and Fromm — the first two quarterbacks signed by Smart — got to this point wasn’t so simple. There were injuries, a transfer, concerns about arm strength and athleticism and just about everything you could imagine packed into their brief college careers.

The two quarterbacks and the discourse around them at this point could not be more different. For Fromm, he’s spent the week answering questions about his hand size while others have wondered just how strong his arm is. With Eason, his physical tools might almost be too big, as he measured just under 6-foot-6 and the concerns are about how accurate his rocket arm might be.

But for a brief moment on Monday night, all of that was put on the backburner. They were chatting like they might have been doing so during at dining hall in Athens.

“We’re all friends, we’re all competing. You make friendships in this whole process,” Eason said.  “A guy like Jake, a guy like Charlie. It’s always good to see guys like that become successful.”

Eason arrived in Athens in 2016 as a 5-star quarterback and had long been billed as the savior of the program. Even after the coaching change from Mark Richt to Smart, Eason stuck with his pledge.

He didn’t beat out Greyson Lambert to start the 2016 season, but by the second game, he ascended to the starting quarterback spot for the Georgia Bulldogs. His first season was filled with some peaks — game-winning drives on the road against Kentucky and Missouri — and valleys — defeats to rivals Florida and Georgia Tech.

“The biggest thing I would take away from that was playing in the SEC as an 18-year old freshman,” Eason said on how his time at Georgia helped him. “It was a lot going on. It was a lot to handle.

“Getting that exposure early was huge. It allowed me to take it in, learn from it and progress throughout my career.”

He completed 55 percent of his passes while throwing 16 touchdowns to eight interceptions. The Bulldogs went 8-5, but growth was expected. Even with Fromm coming in as a member of the 2017 recruiting class, Eason was still cemented as the quarterback of the future for Georgia.

But Eason would make just one more start for the Bulldogs. Just minutes into the start of the 2017 season, Eason hurt his knee against Appalachian State. Fromm entered the game and never ended up relinquishing the job.

Related: Jacob Eason is the ultimate Georgia football ‘What If’

Even after Eason recovered from the knee injury, Fromm was still clearly the starting quarterback. Georgia won games against Notre Dame and Mississippi State, with Fromm throwing key touchdown passes to Terry Godwin in both games. He showed early on that he could come through and lead the Bulldogs.

As for Eason, he’d give tips and pointers whenever he could and Fromm was receptive to Eason’s advice. He did acknowledge how tough it was to watch Georgia’s spectacular season that ended with a Rose Bowl win, SEC title and national title game appearance from the sideline.

But he was nothing but supportive of Fromm and the team.

“I was able to give him some advice,” Eason said. “He was a tremendous player and a tremendously talented guy so not much was needed. But anywhere I felt I could help him, I stepped in.”

Eason never publicly complained about his benching and wait till after the season ended to announce that he would be transferring from Georgia in order to pursue more playing time. These actions by Eason are what endeared him to many in the Georgia fan base.

But Eason didn’t walk from Georgia right into a starting job at Washington. Nor did he do it in his second game. He sat out the entire 2018 season after transferring — unlike Justin Fields another 5-star quarterback who transferred from Georgia after he was unable to beat at Fromm as the starting quarterback.

Eason went on to start just one game in the span of two seasons. But that time away from the starting role helped Eason grow as both a player and a person.

“Knowing that you’re not going to play that’s pretty hard,” Washington teammate Aaron Fuller said.  “But seeing how he grew as both a quarterback and as a leader, it’s pretty impressive to see.”

As a redshirt junior, Eason improved his completion percentage to 64 percent while also tossing 23 touchdowns. But many of the close games Eason won as a freshman, went the other way with Washington. The Huskies went 0-4 in one-score games with Eason as the starter, compared to the Bulldogs going 5-3 in 2016.

Eason once again went 8-5 as a starter, but he had answered some of the questions surrounding him after his long break from college football. He declared for the 2020 NFL Draft, with Mel Kiper Jr. projecting him to be taken by the New England Patriots in the first round of his most recent mock draft.

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