Sentell’s Intel: UGA commit Jake Fromm racked up 652 yards against the state’s No. 2 team
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Jake Fromm’s season will not just be the stuff for storybooks after this year.
It will be a part of a reality show documentary set to air next fall. He’s given the producers of that project more than enough story lines to sift through.
That storybook still has a chance to bust up the record book, too.
Fromm — the soon-to-be-UGA early enrollee — threw for 369 first-half yards on his way to 530 against No. 2 Northside. The 4-star recruit completed 28 of his 43 passes for 530 yards and 4 touchdowns. He threw an interception but balanced that with 122 rushing yards and another score.
That’s just a staggering 652-yard Friday night against a foe his Houston County team had beaten only one other time in school history.
Houston County won 45-35 to keep its playoff hopes alive. Bears coach Von Lassiter said not only was it the greatest game (out of many) he’d seen Fromm play, but he rated it as the finest he’d ever seen from a high school player.
It sets the stage for a potential final chapter on Friday night. The previously-ranked No. 1 team in the state has been tasked with beating the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the state in back-to-back weeks just to reach the playoffs.
That means playoffs-or-bust this week against No. 1 Valdosta. That says a lot about his team and how stout the region they play in is this year.
“We’ve gone from the highest of highs to the lowest lows,” Lassiter said. “But yet through it all, Jake has been the exact same kid. He’s the same guy every week no matter what the situation is.”
Lassiter was describing how the Bears started off as the top-ranked team in Georgia’s Class AAAAAA. Houston County (7-2) scored an average of 49.2 points per game through its first five contests.
Fromm was averaging about 450 passing yards per game before back-to-back losses in region play to Lee County and Coffee County. That meant a radical upside-down season: It looked like they would tumble from No. 1 in the state and then miss the playoffs altogether.
According to the Georgia High School Football Daily, that has happened only twice in the last 20 years. That’s only possible when every team in the region is good enough to be a top 10 team.
That camera crew has been able to record it all. Lassiter said viewers will have a lot to look forward to next fall when those segments air. He said he’s learned a lot from the experience of coaching him.
Lassiter tries to be the same guy each week that he sees out of his quarterback. If he has a bad practice or game, he doesn’t want to carry that home. He wants to be the same guy that he was after that big win.
“He’s just always been the same kid,” Lassiter said. “You’ll see him before the game or at practice or if some geese fly over he’ll crouch down and cover his head and then act like he’s got a rifle and is shooting them like he’s in a blind.”
Fromm will dance and cut up before a game and then he goes out and cuts loose. He’s completed 225 of his 353 pass attempts. That 64 percent completion rate has led to 3,740 yards, 39 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.
Those stats set up another intriguing element to Fromm’s senior season.
Record chase is still on
Individual and team goals usually don’t line up as neatly as they have this season for Houston County.
That’s best described by turning the clock back to last week. Fromm and the Bears looked to have only two more games left in their season. It meant a far-fetched chance — even from Fromm — at catching Deshaun Watson’s state record of 13,077 career passing yards.
Fromm had to average 481 passing yards per game to catch Clemson’s Heisman Trophy contender. That seemed the most likely way he still could break that record. He had at least those two games left to play.
It was a choice between two long shots. There seemed to be no way Fromm could average 480-plus passing yards per game against the top 2 teams in Class 6A.
But the chances of that seemed a little better than a team that had yet to win in the region knocking off Northside and Valdosta in back-to-back weeks. Those odds looked even bleaker considering one of those wins would have to come against a rival which held a 16-1 all-time record against the Bears.
The Bears had the nation’s No. 4 pro-style quarterback prospect at the wheel of their offense, but the defense was suspect.
Houston County has allowed 32 points per game. Run defense is an issue. The Bears have allowed 2,324 rushing yards this year. Those opponents have gashed them for 6.2 yards per carry and 27 rushing touchdowns.
The Bears tried to remedy that.
“I guess we let the cat out of the bag last week,” Lassiter said.
The coaching staff knew it had more defensive linemen than anything else on defense. So they spread the bodies around to get their best 11 on the field. A couple of defensive tackles moved to middle linebacker and it made the Bears a little tougher against the run.
What’s left to accomplish
Fromm somehow threw for those 530 yards against Northside. It means he “only” needs 431 more this week against No. 1 Valdosta to catch Watson.
That’s a tough sentence to type and try not to cringe. It reads like it should be deleted, but perhaps the truest measure of Fromm’s talent would be that such a thing is even possible.
It also fits perfectly with Houston County’s chances. The Bears are only averaging 132 rushing yards per game despite seeing only five defenders in the box with defenses backed up to limit Fromm.
It means Fromm flinging it all over the yard is Houston County’s best chance to win.
But Lassiter doesn’t know how far Fromm is from that record. He also guessed his quarterback probably isn’t keeping up with that either.
“I’ll give you an example about how he thinks,” Lassiter said. “We’re watching the film at the half of the Northside game last week and Jake notices over and over that they only have five guys in the box with their 3-2 fronts. He kept saying over and over to us that we need to run the ball more. That kid doesn’t care one bit about that record.”
Lassiter said it goes back to a conversation they had earlier this year. Those two have a long meeting each Friday before games that include a bit of everything, including a word of prayer. Fromm was piling up the yards but he shared what really mattered to him.
“He only cares about a ring,” Lassiter said.
The preparation to make that happen is well underway. Lassiter pointed that out during the course of a conversation that had stretched to 13 minutes on Sunday night.
“Jake’s going through the Valdosta film right now,” Lassiter said. “I know that because he’s already texted me 3-4 times about what he’s seeing while you and I have been talking.”
The program and his community would love nothing more to see him set that record. But there’s a big “but” that comes with that.
“I can promise you the thing Jake cares about the most is also the best way for him to set that record,” Lassiter said. “We want him to have that record and would love for him to have that record but the best way for us to get him that record is for us to win again on Friday night. I can promise you that if we can make the playoffs then he’ll for sure get that record.”
Team goals over everything. That’s the way Georgia’s next great quarterback talent has been trained across his four years at Houston County.
The one stat to remember
Fromm has completed 61 percent of his career passes for 12,647 yards and 114 touchdowns. He’s also thrown 28 interceptions across 1,350 career attempts.
That’s a ratio of one interception for every 48 attempts. Or one pick for every 4.1 of his touchdown passes.
Those are great stats, but the all-time stat for Fromm is this: He has a puncher’s chance to set the state record for career passing yards in his 46th game. If he can manage that, he’ll have done it in 10 fewer games than Watson.
10. Fewer. Games.
That will go a long way in Fromm’s favor for years to come when discussing the top high school quarterbacks in Georgia history.
I found another stat that shows what Fromm has meant to Houston County football. Taylor Boyett ranks second all-time in career passing yards behind Fromm.
Mr. Boyett has 2,511 career passing yards.
Here’s a good clip of one of Fromm’s big plays from Friday night.
Oouuu Ouuu @ottm_baller25 pic.twitter.com/N84tc7KgQN
— Marvin James (@sportsguymarv) October 29, 2016
Big commitment today
Kenney “KJ” Britt will make his college commitment today. Oxford head coach Ryan Herring confirmed reports that first came out of Alabama last night regarding Britt’s decision.
The Oxford High (Oxford, Ala.) senior recently took an official visit to Stanford with his family and was set to take another official to Ole Miss this past weekend. That showing probably helped Auburn’s chances more than anything else.
His finalists look to be Auburn, Georgia and Stanford. There should be at least those three hats on the table. If he chooses Stanford, it means he will not be able to enroll early. Britt told DawgNation earlier this season that Stanford does not allow mid-year enrollees.
Britt is definitely a take for Georgia, but I don’t see it going that way. Stanford has made a late push, and my perception is he’s already set to decide because that trip either went so well or he saw that it wasn’t the place for him.
He wasn’t planning to take his official visit to UGA until December but did take an unofficial visit for the Tennessee game earlier this month. Another reason to consider Auburn would be that Gus Malzahn’s job security is no longer an issue going forward.
Auburn and Georgia were seen as the teams to beat for the longest time, but I think he’ll leave the UGA hat on the table today.
That’s a big loss. Britt is a tremendous talent who was named the MVP among the LBs at the Nike Atlanta regional qualifier. He then made the first-team defense at Nike’s elite “The Opening” showcase out in Oregon.
The 6-foot, 229-pounder is a true downhill thumper at ILB and the fact he did so well at those events should be a testament to how good he can be at the next level.
The decision now should serve as a big domino to fall for a stacked LB crop across the Southeast. Britt was one of at least 7-8 LBs that UGA had targeted for 2017.
The Bulldogs still will sign up to six prospects at that position this year.
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Follow Jeff Sentell on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges. Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.