ATHENS — The week before Jake Fromm went to visit David Morris in Mobile, Ala., Eli Manning had come in and had some sessions with the renowned quarterback coach. So Morris’ perspective on good quarterback play is pretty strong.
As founder of QB Country, Morris has also worked with AJ McCarron since the eighth grade and had various stings with Matt Barkley, Chad Kelly, Jacob Coker and some guy named Tebow. Tim I believe is his first name.
Morris wasn’t name-dropping. That was just me researching — OK, Googling — his list of clientele. That list includes Fromm, Georgia’s latest quarterback sensation.
I reached out to Morris after I heard about Fromm using some of his spring break beach time to work out with Morris at QB Country. I was doing a story on Fromm’s offseason preparations for this season, so Morris seemed like a good guy to talk to.
Being a coach in demand like he is — Morris was traveling this week to help prepare Toledo’s Logan Woodside and Riley Ferguson of Memphis for their respective pro days — he didn’t get back to me in time to be included in that story. But Fromm and Morris go back a way, and his observations were such that I definitely wanted to share them with DawgNation readers.
First, a little background. They met when Fromm was just 15 years old.
“I met Jake, I think it was right after his freshman year (in high school) maybe,” Morris said. “He and his father kind of found me. They reached out, and we connected. They came to Mobile, and we just started working together. That’s kind of how our stuff works with most of our guys. Dads do their homework and figure out what makes sense.”
With those early interactions as a backdrop, Morris said he was not surprised to see Fromm have early success at Georgia. When he started working with Fromm, the kid was considered more of a baseball prospect that a football prospect. But Fromm had caught the eye of head coach Von Lassiter and quarterbacks coach Mike Chastain at Houston County High School. They, in turn, told Fromm’s father Emerson about Morris and his reputation for developing quarterbacks.
The next thing Fromm knew, he was on his way to Mobile.
“Coach Chastain reached out to me and said, ‘I’ve got a good one I’m going to send down to you,’ ” Morris said. “And I could see what he was talking about early on. When they’re that young, you’re thinking about things like, ‘is he mechanically sound, is he a big kid, can he make all the throws?’ Then you start projecting them out (as a prospect). Jake started getting a lot of attention that next year, his sophomore year. I think he got some offers about then. But early on, you could tell this kid had it.”
Since then, Fromm and Morris have gotten together to work as often as possible. Fromm would attend the QB Country camps whenever possible, then he would seek out individual instruction anytime his schedule would allow it.
It wasn’t real often, with Fromm living in another state. But that meant the visits were spread out just enough that Morris could distinctly see the progress that Fromm was making from semester to semester.
Morris gives Chastain and Lassiter most of the credit for Fromm’s development. He said he showed up at QB Country with a strong foundation of fundamentals and a surprisingly strong aptitude for offensive concepts.
“His ability to think fast goes back to high school,” Morris said. “He was well-coached by Coach Chastain and Coach Lassiter. Very honestly, those guys coached him up. It’s important to give those guys credit because he was a well-trained kid when he showed up. We focused more on footwork and arm position, things like that.”
Fromm’s training was on display for everyone to see as a true freshman last season. After incumbent starter Jacob Eason sustained a knee injury in Georgia’s first game, Fromm started the next 14 and helped lead the Bulldogs to an SEC championship and National Championship Game berth.
The national narrative on Fromm last season became that he was a game manager whose strongest contribution was to get the Bulldogs into good plays and out of bad ones. And he certainly was proficient in that regard.
But Morris believes Fromm is being sold short on his passing ability. Fromm completed 62.2 percent of his passes for 2,615 yards and 24 touchdowns last season. He threw 7 interceptions and also had 3 rushing TDs.
“He’s got plenty of arm strength,” Morris said. “The thing that he has that’s rare is his anticipation and touch. He’s very confident, too. As a result, you don’t see him late on throws very often. A lot of times, coming out of the gate, guys are late on throws because they’re nervous about making the wrong read. It seemed like he was on in that regard pretty much every game.”
Morris was asked if he was trying to help Fromm gain velocity on his throws.
“I would say he has plenty of arm,” Morris said. “He actually has a strong arm. He doesn’t have the Josh Allen arm where he can throw it 70 yards, but you don’t need to do that. And Josh Allen struggles with accuracy. Josh would like to have the accuracy Jake’s got. Jake has anticipation, touch, arm strength and accuracy. So, yeah, I’d say he’s ahead of his time on all that stuff. But I’d say the most important thing is he’s got confidence.”
Like Eason last year, Fromm is wearing the hat as incumbent starter. But he can’t rest on his laurels. Georgia signed Justin Fields — the No. 1-rated dual-threat quarterback in America — to provide much-needed depth and compete with Fromm.
Morris is actually quite familiar with Fields, too. Though the Kennesaw, Ga., native and Harrison High School standout has worked with Ron Veal as his personal quarterbacks coach since the sixth grade, Fields has actually had some sessions with Morris over the years at various camps.
“I worked him out at the Rivals Camp last year,” Morris said. “He and the kid from Clemson (Trevor Lawrence) were there as well as (Marietta 2020 prospect) Harrison Bailey and some other guys. (Fields is) impressive. He’s a physically gifted guy that can throw it. I don’t know much more about him other than that, that he can really throw the ball.”
Morris doesn’t have an opinion on the quarterback competition at Georgia, or whether it’s real or imagined. But he did say that he knows from experience that Fromm will be very difficult to run down from behind.
Morris noted that Fromm’s constant and steady improvement has been uncanny to watch. That, and his physical growth.
“Obviously, they’ve got a great weight program at Georgia,” Morris said with a laugh. “Jake’s 6-[foot-]2 and he’s a strong kid. I want to say he was 222, 225 when he was here, but it’s good weight. He’s got some tree trunks for legs. He doesn’t look too big to me, but I think that’s probably where he wants to stay. The one thing I always preach to him about being strong like that is that he has to maintain flexibility. You can tell early on in a workout if a kid has been paying attention to his flexibility because a lot of guys who work out too much get too stiff. They can’t turn their elbow over and it turns into a violent throw. I thought Jake still looked fluid and flexible. We spent a lot of time making sure he was as loose as he needs to be.”
Morris said he spent two full days with Fromm in Mobile. Two other days, Fromm went to the beach.
“He threw great,” Morris said. “I’m always challenging him on his feet, his release speed and speed in general. Those are big things for him. As far as physical traits, though, he looks like an NFL guy right now.”
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