SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Having had an opportunity to study film on new Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was very impressed with what he saw. But he already knew a lot about the Bulldogs’ freshman because the Fighting Irish evaluated him in recruiting.
Ultimately, they never brought him in for a visit or extended an official offer. Fromm, an early commitment to Alabama and then to Georgia, was already far down the road in the process. And so was Notre Dame.
But Kelly said Fromm exhibited the traits in Georgia’s season opener that they saw in the video from Houston County they evaluated two years ago.
“I really like Jake Fromm,” Kelly said at his weekly news conference Tuesday at the Guglielmino Athletic Center. “Everybody says, ‘Well, he’s a freshman and he’s only had a couple of snaps.’ But, look, I’m not an expert, but I’ve been in this game for a while and he certainly has a presence about him and he’s very comfortable running the Georgia offense.
“We go into this game expecting to see a guy in Jake very capable of running that offense and doing the things necessary to be successful.”
Fromm relieved starter Jacob Eason midway through the first quarter of the opener against Appalachian State last Saturday. Eason suffered a sprained knee when he was illegally shoved out of bounds 8 1/2 minutes into the game. He did not return.
Georgia was scoreless and without a first down until the penalty from that play was walked off. Fromm proceeded to lead the Bulldogs to 31 unanswered points and finished with 143 yards on 10 of 15 passing and a touchdown.
Kelly and the Irish know a lot more about Eason than they do Fromm. Eason’s father, Tony Eason, played wide receiver for the Fighting Irish from 1986-90 and they recruited his son extensively early in his high school career. Eason made several unofficial visits to Notre Dame and the Irish were among the dozens who extended the 5-star prospect a scholarship offer.
But as it turns out, Fromm will be making his first career start on national television at Notre Dame Stadium instead of the expected storyline of one of the Irish’s own coming back to play against them.
Kelly was asked if the Irish would be going out of their way to look to rattle the young quarterback.
“Make him win the game,” said Kelly, who threw up his arms and laughed loudly after making the statement. “Put the pressure on him, right? Take away all his tools. I don’t know. … What are the keys to stopping a freshman quarterback? I don’t know what the keys are. You’ve just got to run your defense and do the things that you do.
“But I think he’s very comfortable running any offense. He looked very comfortable to me. He’s going to get the ball out of his hands quick. Watch his quick game. He threw some balls some perceived as up for grabs. I thought he put them in a position where his guy was going to catch it and that’s it. He’s a good quarterback.”