MACON – One of the things I love about my job is I never know where it’s going to take me. Today I went to dentist with Jake Fromm.
First off, the fact that I ended up at the dentist with Georgia’s hot-shot, quarterback signee says a lot more about him than it does me. It speaks to this kid’s sense of responsibility and commitment. Keep reading.
I was on my way to Warner Robins today to interview Fromm at Houston County High School for one of the first in our annual series on the Bulldogs’ incoming recruits we call “Next Generation.” Google my name or Seth Emerson’s and Next Generation and you’ll see some of the profiles we did last year and in previous years. It’s one of the more enjoyable things I do in this job because it allows me to get out and about and get to know the people and personalities behind the helmeted heroes who will soon don the red the black at UGA.
Well, I got a text from Fromm about the time I was heading down his way. He was very apologetically telling me that he had forgotten that he had a dentist appointment. He said he was going to have to check out of school early in order to make it, thus he wasn’t going to be there during our appointed time.
Now I get these kinds of texts all the time from recruits. And anybody who has dealt with teen-agers — never mind ultra-entitled, elite-level football prospects — will probably understand how I view such late-arriving, excuse-laden correspondences with a good bit of skepticism.
Ever the driven journalist, I was not going to let this development sway me from getting my story. So I told young Mr. Fromm that I’d simply catch up with him after his appointment.
How long could it take, I thought? So I asked him.
He said it might be after 3 before he was done, and he’d be going deer hunting after that.
“Sure, kid, right,” I thought.
Unwavering, I told him I’d catch up with him down the road, and I pressed on to Houston County High School to meet with coach Von Lassiter. It was there that I began to learn more about my intended interview subject.
Talking to Lassiter in his office just off the gym at the school, Lassiter proceeded to tell me about the freak of nature that this Fromm kid is. And he was not referring merely to the 6-foot-2½, 224-pound athlete that Fromm is.
No, he is, like, freakishly responsible, Lassiter informed me. For instance, Lassiter had also found out Thursday that Fromm had a dentist appointment that afternoon. The way he found out is he showed up at the school early in the morning to open up the gym, like he always does, and found Fromm already there waiting for him.
You see, the deal is that the Bears’ varsity football players work out every afternoon at 1 p.m., which happened to be when Fromm was supposed to be leaving for the dentist. Never mind that Fromm is literally days from his early graduation from Houston County and is no longer required to work out with the team, or the fact that he has already locked down a rather notable scholarship to the University of Georgia and, in a matter of weeks, will be working out to a level and degree he has never before encountered.
Nevertheless, it is Fromm’s intention to work out every day at the school until he leaves. So Fromm came in before school in get in his lift. God forbid he miss one.
Lassiter went on to inform me about Fromm’s 4.0 grade-point average, about his AP and joint enrollment classes, about his “photographic memory,” about his unwillingness to slack on anything, whether it be an English Lit paper or a pick-up basketball game.
About now I’m starting to think maybe this kid did have an actual dentist appointment.
Anyway, it doesn’t take very long to interview Lassiter, and he literally has college football recruiters waiting outside his office door. Just missed Mike Bobo by a day, I’m told. So I leave the school and head out to grab some lunch.
I text Fromm during my meal to find out whether one or both of his parents might be with him at the dentist office. Perhaps, I tell him, I can interview one of them while he’s getting his incisors polished, or whatever he procedure he was allegedly having to endure.
He informs me that his dad is indeed with him and says “come on.” He says he’ll text me GPS coordinates when he gets there.
It’s not until I get said text sometime later that I realize his dentist is in Macon. I’m in Warner Robins.
Thirty five minutes later, I’m sitting in the waiting room of North Macon Dental Associates waiting to meet Jake Fromm. It’s not until they all come out from the back reaches of the office of Dr. J. Lee Stockslager that I realize that not only did Jake have a dental appointment, but so did his father Emerson and younger twin brothers Dylan and Tyler Fromm.
This is a family that does everything together. Except for mom, Lee, who was at her job as a nurse.
So it turned out great for me. I got to meet his dad and his brothers and, eventually, his grandfather, Bill Haskins, who came to pick up Fromm to take him deer hunting in Twiggs County, as they do on the regular.
I don’t want to give away too much of the Next Generation story that I’ll be doing for DawgNation in the coming days, but I will share a few of the things Fromm told me:
- He can’t get to Georgia soon enough. He’ll be reporting to campus on Jan. 8, the day after he competes in the U.S. Army All-America Game in San Antonio. He’s coming directly from Athens from there and will actually be arriving for classes a day or two late.
- He’s looking forward to competing with the Bulldogs’ current quarterback, Jacob Eason. The emphasis there should be on competing, as in he hasn’t resigned that he’ll be Eason’s backup the next few seasons. He intends to compete for the starting job and believes he can win it.
- That said, he has a good relationship with Eason. He said they get along very well and are looking forward to working shoulder-to-shoulder the next couple of seasons. “May the best man win,” is Fromm’s general attitude, and if it’s not him, “I’ll do everything I can to help Georgia win. That’s what we’re all coming there for.”
- In no uncertain terms, Fromm will be in Athens because of Kirby Smart. He grew up as a Bulldogs’ fan and always wanted to play there but did not have an offer from the previous staff. He was already committed to Alabama when Smart was hired as Georgia’s head coach. Within days of Smart’s appointment, he offered Fromm, and Fromm almost immediately accepted. There’s no place he’d rather be.
There are some more twist and turns to my adventures with the Fromms on Thursday. I’ll just tell you that I followed them out into central Georgia deer country, from two-lane roads to dirt roads to roads that weren’t really roads. And I don’t think the Jake will ever let me live down the red VW Beetle rental car I was driving and that, at one time, I asked him to cram his huge, athletic frame into. But I got last laugh because I’ve included a pic of him sitting on it, which he said I better not use.
Kidding aside, a very impressive young man from an awesome family. Very well grounded despite the ridiculous amount of attention he has received as a high school senior.
More on that in the Next Generation profile, coming soon!