ATHENS – Above all else, there is one thing that both Jacob Eason and Jake Fromm can do this spring to help the Georgia football team.
Don’t get hurt.
Eason and Fromm are Georgia’s only two scholarship quarterbacks, so it has to be one of them under center unless the team wants to use a walk-on, or test receiver Terry Godwin’s career passing rating of 799.6. (He’s thrown three passes.)
As for which one will be under center when Georgia opens against Appalachian State, Eason has the year of experience and Fromm has a lot to learn. So it will be a shock if Eason doesn’t start. But at this point it would also be surprising if Fromm doesn’t play, so he at least has some experience if his role has to increase.
Given all that, the five weeks of spring practice will be valuable for both, but for different reasons.
In Eason’s case, the difference from this time last year must be refreshing. Last year at this time he was the hot-shot recruit who was expecting to start, but his head was also swimming with information, and he was having to adjust to everything. Now he has 12 starts and a solid freshman season to build on.
“He’s got one year under his belt, he’s going to go out there and hope to learn even more,” senior tailback Sony Michel said. “I think that’ll help this team a lot. Because then he can not focus on learning the system. He can be a leader while learning more.”
Leadership is what comes up a lot with Eason, as in the ability to really take control now, from a position of knowledge rather than just being the starting quarterback. That should help the entire offense.
But Eason still has individual things to work on. His freshman season saw too many overthrown passes, a lack of comfort outside the shotgun, and a need for better footwork overall. Those are things he can work on this spring, and he’ll do it having appeared to put on some weight, while also being in better shape, per head coach Kirby Smart.
“He’s in better shape, I think he’s moving around better,” Smart said before Tuesday’s practice. “I thought as the year went, he got more comfortable being mobile in the pocket. I saw that in the offseason conditioning program. I was like ‘This guy is a lot better athlete than we give him credit for.’ We got to see some of that.
“From a leadership standpoint, he’s got to do a better job of communicating in the huddle, doing all the things that maybe a freshman would struggle to do when he’s getting by for himself. He’s got to help others now. I’m starting to see that. He feels more comfortable now having been here a year than he was obviously in year one.”
Then there’s Fromm, who has impressed everyone around the program with his intangibles. In the two months after he enrolled early, he did everything a quarterback was supposed to do, whether it was offseason conditioning, the weight room or organizing and participating in throwing drills.
“We hang out with him a good bit. I’m really impressed with him,” senior tight end Jeb Blazevich said. “I think he shows a lot of maturity, I think he’s one of the guys that he just shows up to work, that’s all he wants to do. He just wants to get to work, put in his work, puts in his time, and I really respect that. And he’s a cool kid too.”
But what about the football part? That’s where these 15 spring practices come in. Fromm is where Eason was last year, at least mostly, in having to adjust to the college game.
But while Eason came from a very shotgun-oriented and pass-happy offense in high school, Fromm’s adjustment there may be a bit easier, Smart indicated.
“He was really coached well in high school and played in a system that was complicated from a scheme standpoint and a coverage standpoint. He comes in ahead of your normal, average freshman,” Smart said. “He’s going out there with the intent of winning over that job and winning over the team. That’s what we expect him to come out and compete and do.”