Sentell’s Intel: What an Elite 11 coach thinks of UGA commit Jake Fromm
Want a daily lap through Georgia football recruiting? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. We’ll cover the news and which way this 4-star or that 5-star might be leaning and sprinkle in a dab of perspective to help folks figure out what it all means.
This edition is going to be all about the quarterbacks.
It seems the present-day status of the quarterback spot at Georgia grabs all the spotlight but that is the current concern. Let’s advance that storyline with this one: The future of the quarterback spot couldn’t be brighter for Georgia.
That’s given the flashes of potential shown by 5-star freshman Jacob Eason plus the impending January arrival of Georgia high school phenomenon Jake Fromm from Central Georgia.
Fromm is chasing Georgia high school records in career passing yards and single-season passing yards. The Houston County senior threw for 492 yards and seven touchdowns last Friday night to stay on pace to surpass Clemson Heisman Trophy contender DeShaun Watson’s mark of 13,077 career passing yards.
Understatement: That’s a lot. Even for a kid rated as the nation’s No. 3 pro-style passer for 2017.
The Georgia High School Football Daily has projected that Fromm will surpass that mark by the end of the regular season. His numbers are a sick video game assault which seem to bend and warp the natural parameters that apply to high school games.
Go see him play. Treat yourself. It is incredible how often Houston County can convert a 1st-and-20 or more seemingly every game with Fromm at the helm. His quarterback rating when the Bears fall behind the sticks (holding calls, procedure penalties) would be way up there.
The key things to know regarding Fromm so far for 2016:
- His Houston County Bears are 4-0 and ranked No. 1 in Class AAAAAA.
- Fromm has 105 completions in his 143 attempts. That’s a completion percentage of 73 percent.
- He’s also thrown for 1,842 yards in just four games. Four! That’s an average of 461 yards per contest.
- The reigning Gatorade Georgia Football Player of the Year has thrown 19 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions.
- He slung a would-be tackler to the ground on an option play earlier this year. Just like a rag doll.
- The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder also shown some “right-handed Tebow” to his game by barreling through several defenders on a QB scramble last Friday night.
But I get it. Numbers can blur the mind. Especially those. That’s why a recent conversation with Elite 11 quarterback coach Quincy Avery projected what Fromm can be on Saturdays.
Avery, the son of former NFL quarterback coach Wendell Avery, has been coaching the nation’s Elite 11 quarterbacks since 2013. He’s worked with NFL teams in the past and coached under Norm Chow and Rich Neuheisel at UCLA. He’s been training quarterbacks ever since and been a member of the Elite 11 staff for the last four summers.
The point he always came back to was Fromm’s mind.
He said Fromm’s first day (7 touchdowns and no interceptions across nine drives) of the 7-n-7 tournament at Nike’s “The Opening” rates among the finest exhibitions he’s seen in four years at the Elite 11.
“He literally hit everything,” Avery said. “He made the right read and the right decisions and was throwing the correct ball at every right time, whether it was a layered throw that got up-and-down over a linebacker and fit in between the two safeties or getting down from a four verticals concept and getting the ball to a back. Those are things next-level quarterbacks do. They take what the defenses give them, and when there’s a chance to be aggressive, they are aggressive. I think you’ve seen what he learned at the Elite 11 carry over to his high school season because he’s off to a crazy start.”
Avery said that Fromm’s greatest asset was his decision-making. He felt he had “an advanced understanding of spatial awareness and what throws are needed that he can make at a specific time.”
“He also understands leverage really well,” Avery said. “You’ll see a guy lean a little bit and Jake takes advantage of that. That’s something that college quarterbacks still struggle with and he’s already doing that at 17 and 18 years old. He already has a great grasp of that and it was really exciting to get to coach someone with that level of understanding, with already that type of next-level talent at the Elite 11.”
What he can do at Georgia
Well, that’s a loaded topic, given the 6-foot-5 Eason shows all the tools and arm talent required to be at the NFL Draft after three good years of growth at Georgia. It is laughable to hear some bring up the point he’s not living up to the hype because he’s not starting early.
Eason moved ahead of a highly-rated fourth-year junior on the depth chart. He’s now battling with a fifth-year senior with multiple seasons of starting experience.
Eason’s name also has to come up with what lies ahead for Fromm. Because Fromm will be at Georgia.
“With Jake’s frame and his ability to make throws, I think he’ll have a tremendously successful college career, but it is going to be interesting to see what happens with him playing at the University of Georgia with Eason there,” Avery said. “Maybe it is a situation where he redshirts a year and then Jacob Eason comes out of college early for the draft and then Jake Fromm absolutely lights it up at Georgia for three years.”
Avery feels Fromm has the physical tools to play on Sundays. Yet he doesn’t want that baseline evaluation to get lost among all the mental strengths in Fromm’s game.
“He can really throw the ball, but not only that, with all the things he understands mentally and looking where at the path he is at right now, I can definitely see him going on to play on Sundays,” Avery said. “Now, I don’t say that about every kid and even every kid in the Elite 11, but I have had the opportunity to see a bunch of guys and where Jake is at right now speaks so clearly about where his future will be. When he lands there at Georgia in college, he is going to put up some crazy numbers.”
He laughs at how well Fromm will be able to move the sticks facing stacked boxes with seven and eight men up at the line in the SEC. That’s how Georgia’s run game will mesh with his skills.
“Just put him in a situation like that and he is going to put some real stress on a defense,” Avery said.
How Fromm will compare to Eason
Avery said he’s seen Eason’s game in high school up close two times. That was both at a passing camp and at the Elite 11 two summers ago. He said Eason was “a naturally gifted thrower,” even though some of the things the Washington native did mechanically were not exactly textbook.
“I think Jacob Eason has as strong an arm as any kid I’ve ever seen at the high school level,” Avery said. “You will see that translate very well to his college game with a vertical passing attack. You go to see him show that off with his first showing at the University of Georgia.”
Avery stated Eason’s arm already compares to all the top college guys. More velocity. More energy. For example, he places Eason’s arm strength higher than Notre Dame star DeShone Kizer. He felt when Kizer comes out for the draft that NFL scouts will say he wields a “big arm,” but he felt Eason’s arm was already stronger than that.
Florida legend Tim Tebow recently gushed about Eason’s talent on SEC Network, too.
Avery traced parallels with Eason’s arm to NFL regulars Jay Cutler and Matt Stafford. So how does that compare to Fromm? He felt Fromm’s ball has all the giddy-up required to make every throw, but there’s a difference in his approach.
“I just don’t think Jake spends a whole bunch of time trying to throw the ball hard,” Avery said. “His understanding of what throws to make is already so college level with that. That really was the impressive part about him. He understands what ball goes in what situations. I will say that, but Fromm’s arm gives an offense the ability to make every throw you might want at the college level. But you’re not watching Fromm, so you can see fastballs all the time. You just see him make completions.”
He called both young quarterbacks “supremely talented’ but also “talented in different ways.” Eason has the big arm, the hand size, the physical stature, great strength and really drives the ball down the field.
That’s the prototype pocket passer. Fromm’s talent starts with understanding coverages at an expert level.
“He understands what defenses want to do and the situations that he doesn’t want to get himself in,” he said. “When he understands that, he knows where the defense is weakest at and does a great job of attacking that. As you attack the weakness of a defense, then they start having to adjust to you, and that’s when he can really take advantage. I think Fromm plays more of a mental game, but he still has a bunch of all those physical tools you want, but it is more of a chess match with Fromm.”
Off the field, Avery noted that Fromm was the coolest guy in the room because players of all walks of life find it easy to relate to him.
“That’s the city guy from the heart of Atlanta or the country guy from South Georgia,” he said. “You want to hang around Jake Fromm. I think that goes such a long way going into the huddle and getting guys to really rally around you. There’s nothing that rubs you the wrong way about Jake and that is really cool and also really very rare.”
The question I get all the time
Is Fromm still going to go to Georgia? How can he go to Georgia with Eason there?
That question comes to me (via an email or a DM or a text or a tweet) at least 5-6 times per week. The answer is the same. I think Fromm would go to Georgia even if the school flipped its colors to pink and gray.
He’s a natural competitor who won’t run from the competition. In fact, he’ll embrace it. He knows that will make him better.
Fromm is likely too humble to say it, but he wants to compete with a talent like Eason. That’s the only way he can raise his game. He’s assaulting all of those career passing records because he hasn’t had to compete at the quarterback spot at Houston County since his freshman year.
I think Eason’s presence might be more of an added draw for Fromm to go to UGA than a deterrent.
Another 5-star talent in line?
We’ve covered Eason and Fromm, but there’s also 5-star junior quarterback Trevor Lawrence at Cartersville to add to the discussion. There is a good chance that Lawrence makes it three elite quarterbacks in Athens at the same time in January of 2018.
That’s astonishing. The sight of three quarterbacks rated among the nation’s top 5 is the talent monopoly Georgia traditionally only realizes at the tailback spot.
Lawrence is rated as the nation’s No. 1 quarterback and top overall prospect for 2018. It will be Clemson or Georgia for the 6-foot-5, 200-pounder, and most close to that decision feel he will still make his decision sometime this fall.
The Cartersville junior is having the best start of any high school player in Georgia up to this point, except for Fromm.
Lawrence has led his Hurricanes to 18 straight wins and that includes a state title in 2015. He’s authored systematic dissections of the Calhoun and Westlake defenses in back-to-back weeks. Westlake fell 31-0, even though its defense lines up several college prospects.
Georgia LB commitment Jaden Hunter was clearly impressed by Lawrence. The Westlake senior told DawgNation that Lawrence is a one-of-a-kind talent. He felt he could do it all.
“He’s definitely a great quarterback,” Hunter said. “The best I have ever played against. We need him at UGA.”
That’s great peer respect from a competitor like Hunter. The four-star linebacker has a good mind for the game, too. But I want to go deeper than just the surface level regarding Lawrence.
I asked Westlake coach Kareem Reid about the Xs and Os and how they defended the five-star. Reid had spent several seasons watching elite South Florida talent prior to coming to Atlanta to coach the Lions.
Reid said Westlake tried everything with Lawrence. He said arm strength and accuracy were his greatest traits. His Lions even managed to intercept the 5-star junior twice in the first quarter, but Reid still said Lawrence was “Aaron Rodgers-esque.”
The Lions mixed up their pressures with a combination of zone and man coverages. They blitzed Lawrence about 60 percent of the time. He described Lawrence as “smart” and “athletic” and “can make all the throws” and “scary good.”
“He’ll be a first-round pick in four years,” Reid said.
I still expect Lawrence to eventually commit to Georgia. It will be a tight race at the line, but Georgia’s pro-style offense, the recruiting relationships that have been built and the supporting cast on the offensive line will eventually win out.
Lawrence is another guy who will thrive off competition and not run from it. That’s the new culture that Kirby Smart is bringing to Georgia.
Trevor Lawrence, with his 3rd TD toss tonight. He hits Avery Showell on a deep strike. Canes up 31-0 over Westlake. pic.twitter.com/Z8hhjpM8EY
— Junior Baker (@SouthernSwagg4) September 10, 2016
The Purple Hurricanes take a 24-0 lead over Westlake, with this TD toss by Trevor Lawrence. pic.twitter.com/WDlg5MBgLT
— Junior Baker (@SouthernSwagg4) September 10, 2016
This TD pass by Trevor Lawrence, late in the 2nd qtr has put the Purple Hurricanes up 17-0 over the Westlake Lions. pic.twitter.com/8tyllcHM8E
— Junior Baker (@SouthernSwagg4) September 10, 2016
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.