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Jeff Sentell/DawgNation
Jake Fromm definitely fits the bill as a homegrown Georgia Bulldog coming out of Warner Robins in 2017.

Homegrown Jake Fromm: Little League ball to duck holes to the face of an elite program

EDITOR’S NOTE: This original Jake Fromm story continues a special series in partnership with Georgia Farm Bureau profiling homegrown talent from the state of Georgia.  To access other HomeGrown Talent articles please visit the series hub on DawgNation.com. 

 

Jake Fromm just measures up.

Most only need to nod their heads now when the stories of his hitting and pitching lines in the Little League World Series comes up.

It is now like those stories of David Greene and David Pollack as childhood teammates from 2002.

New Fromm stories pop up all the times as more folks across the state get to know him. The most recent Intel came after the wedding of a former teammate.

It was a chance for a few more fans to meet him. They walked away impressed by how “real” and “downhome” he was.

There are now a lot of those. This reporter has a stand-by for every “What is he like?” query. Somebody just bought their kid a No. 11. They want to know if he is the same as he comes across on TV and in interviews.

Yep. Pretty much.

Put Fromm at a table with folks from all walks of life. It could be a Buddist monk, a lacrosse coach, add in a crunch enhancer food scientist, a Wall Street window washer and a dude who lives next to the man in a van down by the river.

Let them eat together. Swap stories. They will all come away from hoping their kids or younger brothers or sisters are hanging around guys like Fromm.

His interview answers are dry at times. But that’s likely him showing his accuracy for blandness in a different pocket.

The games will bring real joy. Not sitting in a “reporter hole” surrounded by cameras like he’s the one being hunted.

He likely doesn’t know whether he’d rather be throwing touchdowns, looking for ducks or top-water fishing. When a guy who is making a case to be the best QB in Georgia history says that, he offers a healthy sense of what all of this really means.

Yet with that, he prepares for every game like it is the only one NFL scouts will judge him on. Those days will come in the spring of 2020 or 2021, but that’s still very much up in the air. For now.

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Former Bulldog Mecole Hardman interviews Jake Fromm at The Rose Bowl in December of 2017. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

The Jake Fromm recruiting story 

This tale could occupy a chapter or three, but for brevity’s sake, we will condense it to the PowerPoint attention span.

Fromm wanted badly to be the QB at Georgia. Childhood dream stuff. After all, his grandfather did buy that $500 autographed Herschel Walker helmet. That extended family circle pulled for the Bulldogs.

But when Fromm worked out for UGA, it wasn’t his best day. Maybe he wanted it too much. Maybe it was another day like LSU in 2018.

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Jake Fromm threw for more than 12,824 yards and 116 touchdowns during his three-plus seasons as a starter at Houston County. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

For whatever reason (and there were a few) the previous Georgia staff chose talented lefty Bailey Hockman to their 2017 QB.

It led Fromm to Alabama. He committed to the Tide and was set to be the next Nick Saban quarterback. That was until Kirby Smart was no longer set to be Saban’s defensive coordinator for the 2016 season.

Smart was coming home to Georgia.

As luck might have it, they got to know one another well when Fromm made several trips to Tuscaloosa as a committed recruit.

Fromm found himself sitting around Smart after a lot of those games.

Smart got to know Fromm. He wanted to bring him home to Georgia, too. So he did.

He was already wanting to fill up that quarterback room with golden arms. Even then.

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Jake Fromm was smiling big on the November 2016 day he signed his papers to play for Georgia. He had his coaches crying that day. He had meant that much to them and the Houston County program. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

The things everyone brings up about Jake Fromm

Talking season this month has brought an avalanche of positive comments about Fromm. This is the first year where the focus is all on him.

There’s no Jacob Eason or Justin Fields to stare down. The thing that gets forgotten a lot of times is those guys helped make Fromm a lot better.

He had to get better to stay the starter at Georgia.

J.R. Reed said the other day he always sees Fromm smiling and happy.

His exuberance affects others. Even the son of a former NFL Pro Bowler. Smart has spoken at length of late about several intelligence and preparation criteria aspects of Fromm’s game.

When a coach says that, it conveys praise toward a player. He speaks their language.

A noted college coach got to be around the junior for a bit this summer. He walked away from that encounter thoroughly impressed by the way he thinks the game.

Fromm can break it all down on the film and on the board nine ways to Sunday. The NFL scouts, whether it be this spring or the spring after next, will be wowed when they see it.

When he’s measured by even some die-hard fans, they bring up the games he did not play well. LSU always comes up. So does his performances on the road in the SEC.

There’s a valid question here. It seems Fromm is constantly being judged against the very best quarterbacks in college football. Even by Georgia fans.

The context here is he’s been very good so far, especially in stature games, compared to the best quarterbacks the Bulldogs have ever had. Yet he’s always measured against other standards.

Here’s where his best season so far rates against the best seasons in the careers of the following Georgia greats: Quincy Carter, David Greene, Aaron Murray, Matthew Stafford and Eric Zeier.

  • Passing yards: 5th
  • Completion percentage: 1st
  • Yards per attempt: 2nd
  • TD/Interception ratio: 1st
  • QB rating: 2nd

The freshman and sophomore years should be the worst for any quarterback in college. Players should naturally improve and progress.

It will be fascinating to see what Fromm grows into this fall. There will be even more data to shape his time in Athens.

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Jake Fromm throws a pass against Alabama in the 2018 SEC Championship Game against Alabama. It was a rare 300-yard passing day against the Tide. Some feel it has been his greatest game at Georgia up to this point. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

A defining story about young Jake Fromm

Football now goes heavy on analytics and numbers. With that, the math for Fromm on the field is still rather simple.

1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1 = 11

He’s the guy in the huddle there to make the other 10 players better. His approach allows all 11 to be where they are supposed to be, do their job, and function as a team.

Fromm has always been about that. The Houston County staff instilled that in him.

A Kentucky high school coach was the last coach to oversee Fromm before he came to Georgia. Kevin Wallace only saw Georgia’s new quarterback play one game.

It was enough.

Wallace led a Bowling Green High team that clicked off an 84-3 mark with five state titles in six years prior to meeting Fromm. He served as the offensive coordinator for the East at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in Texas.

“The first night I got here I gave my quarterbacks a booklet of all of our route stuff,” Wallace said. “I knew it was going to be difficult to teach. We only had four real practices.”

Something came up the first day.

“We are running a route,” Wallace said. “That’s not normally something we use back home. I got ready to run it and I was teaching progression off it and I got to the backside and I got the two routes mixed up.”

Somebody had his back. It wasn’t a fellow coach.

“Jake goes ‘Coach, I’m sorry but that’s not right here’ and then said ‘You had it the other way’ and I was like ‘Oh my goodness you know what you are right’ and he was right to say that,” Wallace said.

Fromm had Wallace’s scheme down that well by Monday morning.

“Think about this now,” Wallace said. “I hand it to him on Sunday night when he’s just getting here and he’s meeting everybody. I wouldn’t have expected him to go in and really study it. But this was just a nondescript route that was back in the back of the playbook. For him to know that, I thought that was a special thing.”

What that week in Texas said about Jake Fromm 

Fromm will always be prepared to execute the plan. The LSU game last fall was his worst on-field day, but there are reels of the plays against the Alabamas, Auburns, Floridas, Notre Dames and Oklahomas that show what he is capable of.

Has any Georgia quarterback played in more big games in two seasons? Has any Georgia QB played better in games like that as a freshman and a sophomore?

“He had an idea of what everybody was supposed to do on Day 1,” Wallace said then. “I don’t know that we had anybody else that did that. He’s got an ‘it’ factor to him. You see it on the first day you meet him and then you see it over and over again every day after that. It is not just that he has the charisma and all of the leadership. This young man’s knowledge of the game and understanding of the game is really special.”

They were two quarterbacks rated ahead of Fromm that week. Yet he was a lock to start the game by the second practice of the week. Alabama star Tua Tagovailoa was one of those, too.

His Houston County coach, Von Lassiter, felt back in high school that Fromm had a photographic memory. He believed Fromm could haven been his own offensive coordinator in high school.

Fromm earned the All-American start due to preparation and having the ability to translate what he knew to the field.

“Without a doubt,” Wallace said then. “It is hard to differentiate the talent level of those three guys in such a short period of time. So the overriding factor was here’s the guy that kind of became the straw that stirred the drink during a week. So you want to start with that guy.”

Wallace saw Fromm make two heady plays that led to touchdowns. He could not take credit for those.

The Kentucky coach even gave Fromm a “10” rating for his football intelligence and another “10” for both his character and leadership ability.

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What Jake Fromm did on the All-American stage out in Texas forecast what he was capable of doing in Athens. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

An interesting first non-interview with Jake Fromm 

Let’s flashback to 2015. The day-to-day beat coverage of Georgia recruiting called for a trip to check out Houston County senior receiver Darion Anderson.

Anderson would commit to Mark Richt’s Georgia. He would later de-commit from Kirby Smart’s Georgia and wind up at Georgia Southern. (That said something about how different Smart’s way of doing things would be on the trail.)

Fromm was warming up. Anderson wasn’t out of the locker room yet and by happenstance, there was a chance to meet the rising junior.

He didn’t have an offer from Georgia. But he already had the confidence to ask a new face both who they were with and what part of the state they grew up in.

That first read there was uncommon. He communicated better warming up than most schoolboy quarterbacks do sitting at their locker.

Fromm did mention the weather. It was something to do with hunting. That did happen. Of course, it did.

He also exuded pure joy while he released each ball. His face gave a telling critique for every spiral. Most were wide smiles.

He did go heavy on the “yessir” and “no sir” while doing something he clearly enjoyed doing. Fromm was challenging his teammates then. Trying to make them better.

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Jake Fromm fires up his teammates prior to the Sugar Bowl game against Texas earlier this year. (Bob Andres/AJC)

Recruiting analysts and high school football reporters have a hundred encounters like that every year. At least. Very few leave an impression like the one Fromm did.

He was not the story that day. It was just Fromm being himself. With nothing to gain.

It was what that DawgNation reader noticed at that recent wedding. What Reed sees every day. It was what struck Wallace during All-American week.

This was just the first glimpse of the same “it” factor that seems so foolish when one reads it. Even more when a scribe writes it.

That does not invalidate the feeling.

He’d only thrown for 4,800 yards and 39 varsity touchdowns heading into his junior year. The feeling was this: The school that signs that kid is going to be better off for it.

“I do know one thing about that kid, though,” Wallace said that week. “Jake Fromm is going to be a success in life. I don’t know if it is going to be a football player or a peanut farmer yet. But whatever it is, he is going to have success.”

The Houston County great would go on to throw for 7,910 more yards and 77 more touchdowns in his junior and senior high school seasons.

Folks forget that about Fromm. When he came to Georgia and was asked to fit into a Pro-Style scheme, it was actually a bit out of his comfort zone.

But he made it all seem so comfortable. Still does.

There are just a lot more people judging and watching him these days.

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Jake Fromm gathers in a sense of the Notre Dame crowd prior to his first college start on the road in South Bend in 2017. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Homegrown Talents: The DawgNation series so far