ATHENS — Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm appears to be flying under the radar, in terms of preseason recognition, but ESPN’s most highly regarded college football analyst has taken note of him.
ESPN College GameDay host Kirk Herbstreit had a great deal of praise for Fromm during his interview with DawgNation earlier this week.
“I think Georgia doesn’t have the year they have without Jake Fromm,” said Herbstreit, who earlier this week cautioned Kirby Smart to be very cautious with when and how he pulls Fromm out of games for the sake of playing freshman Justin Fields. “Now he comes back a year later, he’s a year older, a year wiser, a year stronger and everything is going to improve.”
“I would be very cautious with how I handled that situation,” Herbstreit said, “because Jake Fromm has that ‘it’ factor, and this team wants to play for him, and the team responded to his leadership a year ago.”
Fromm went 12-2 as a starter last season, earning FWAA Freshman All-American honors as well as SEC Freshman of the Year.
But Fromm, who has had to compete with Fields to hold the starting quarterback position at Georgia, has managed no better than third-team preseason All-SEC QB honors.
Many Bulldogs fans were incensed on Thursday night when a graphic featuring top SEC quarterback talent came up — listing six players — and Fromm was not one of them.
This makes me sick. Kid took over as a true freshman, took the team to the natty and gets zero respect. Last year they praised him. This year they forgot him. Smdh. #Fromm #DGD #GoDawgs #DawgsOnTop pic.twitter.com/jlYh2wbVtC
— Rob (@BulldawgRob) August 31, 2018
Herbstreit, however, has been very high on Georgia in part because of Fromm, having seen the growth and maturation take place last season.
“They went from trying to avoid putting [Fromm] in positions to have to try to win games, to later in the year against Auburn in the SEC Championship Game and then his play in the championship game, and it was just a different team,” he said.
Georgia football coach Kirby Smart has not officially named Fromm the starting quarterback for the opening game at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday against Austin Peay, but he has heaped praise on him throughout fall camp.
“I think what he did really well last year was handle our team,” Smart said.
“He did what we asked him to do, and I think that’s important, and the quarterback position is making decisions, and that’s what quarterbacks are usually judged on is how methodical, how many good decisions can you make versus bad decisions that hurt your team and you’re trying to — you talk about it all the time, they’re trying to make completions.”
Fromm was 181-of-291 passing last season with 24 touchdowns, 7 interceptions and 2,615 yards.
Fromm’s pass efficiency rating of 160.1. tied for 8th-best in the nation with Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett.
The Georgia football comeback against Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl, from 31-17 down at the half to a 54-48 double-overtime win, was one for the ages.
While that may not have carried over to preseason All-SEC voters, it left an impression on Herbstreit.
“I remember calling that Oklahoma game and thinking, ‘boy, look at Jake Fromm! The kid has come so far — they were down big to Oklahoma and Baker Mayfield, and this kid looked like he had been there his whole life, and it’s just rare to have a guy do that. Then, the way he performed and played against Alabama, rare to have a true freshman do that.”
Herbstreit has served as an analyst for ESPN’s College GameDay since 1996, and he’s continuing his work as AllState’s spokesman with the new “Mayhem” program this season. Herbstreit will be picking a mayhem moment each Saturday.