ATHENS — It was a three-pound spotted bass, Jake Fromm would like the record to show, and if he and his partner had turned it in they would have placed higher in the contest. Oh, and Fromm also reeled in the fish while he was on the phone.
“We didn’t go weigh in there because we only had one fish, but it would have bumped our 200-something finish to like 109th or something,” Fromm said. “It is what it is.”
That was at a college fishing tournament a month ago, at Lake Guntersville in Alabama. On another weekend, Fromm went fishing with a new Georgia football teammate, offensive tackle Cade Mays, and at another point went turkey hunting with childhood friend and Georgia baseball player Tony Locey.
These are the things that Fromm did in the months after a storybook freshman season. What he didn’t do was take a breath, sit and reflect on it all. The SEC championship. The Rose Bowl. The near-national championship. He just went back to school and got right back to competing for his job.
“That’s it,” Fromm said, shaking his head and smiling. “It is what it is, man. Some guys love it and I do.”
The kid who can reel in a fish while on the phone — it was on speaker, hands-free — has appeared just as unflappable since the second he arrived on campus last year. Jacob Eason established as the starting quarterback? No big deal. Making your first career start at Notre Dame? No problem. A true freshman starter in the SEC Championship Game, Rose Bowl and National Championship Game? Check, check, check.
So now after doing all that and seemingly proving himself, Fromm finds himself where Eason was last year. Having to fold off a freshman phenom, Justin Fields.
“The same way Jacob was to me, I try to be that way with Justin,” Fromm said. “At the end of the day we learn a lot from each other. It’s a lot of mental reps on each other’s end.”
Fromm was asked if what happened last year keeps him on his toes, knowing a true freshman could end up taking his job.
“I’m still going to be the same guy every single day, even from the day I got here,” Fromm said. “I’m just the kind of guy who goes in and competes, somebody who works his butt off. I’m never going to stop doing that and I don’t expect anybody on the team to stop working on their game. That’s what everybody on the team is doing, competing and working. That’s kind of what we do here.”
Indeed, there’s been no sign this spring that Fromm is bothered by the competition. The buzz has been good on his practices, and when the media has been present hardly a pass seemed to hit the ground.
“Jake, he’s a bright kid. He always has been,” Georgia junior receiver Riley Ridley said. “I just feel like he’s going to keep adding on to that playbook more. And the sky’s the limit for him because he’s a very smart kid.”
Fromm was more than a game manager last season for Georgia. He completed 62.2 percent of his passes, second-best in the SEC among starters, and averaged 9.0 yards per attempt, third in the SEC. He threw 24 touchdowns while only being picked off 7 times.
Making his first media appearance of the spring after practice Thursday, Fromm was asked what he needed to improve on this offseason.
“Trying to get better in the pocket, try to have an even more clearness of the offense and to have better rhythm on my throws,” he said. “Obviously, doing a better job throwing on the run. I’m just trying to take all that in and improve as much as I can.”
When it comes to who is coaching him, there is one seemingly big change: James Coley moved from coaching receivers to quarterbacks, and Jim Chaney, who recruited him to Georgia and coached him as a true freshman, is officially the tight ends coach.
But Fromm said Chaney is still very much involved with the quarterbacks, especially since he’s still the offensive coordinator.
“Not a whole lot different,” Fromm said. “Coach Chaney, Coach Coley, those guys are both still there. In meetings, Coach Coley’s a little more energetic but at the end of the day football is football, and both guys are great. They’re both going to help put the football team in the best situation possible, and I’m just here to help.”
He’s just there to help. No outward sign of cockiness.
You need to mention fishing to draw out that side of Jake Fromm.
“[Mays] caught one a little bit bigger than I did. The next day, I had to kind of get him back,” Fromm said, smiling. “We got that all figured out.”