Recruiting rewind: The one Jake Fromm story that maybe you haven’t read yet
Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s is what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. The play sheet for Friday calls for a memory-lane trip that revisits the recruitment of Georgia QB Jake Fromm.
Did the recruiting guy see this coming?
That’s a question I still get regarding Jake Fromm. The freshman will start at quarterback for Georgia Saturday in the program’s biggest game in at least the last five years. Along the road to the SEC Championship Game, he established school records for a freshman quarterback.
Fromm only pitches it about 17 times per game, but he is sitting second in the SEC with 19 touchdown passes. His 167.72 quarterback rating also ranks second. The pride of Houston County High School in Warner Robins, Ga., only takes a back seat to Missouri’s Drew Lock in those two columns.
Georgia’s red-zone scoring offense ranks No. 1 in the nation in efficiency. The Bulldogs have scored 44 times in their 45 chances snapping on the real paydirt.
The only misfire was a Terry Godwin fumble as he rambled toward the end zone.
Fromm, clearly buoyed by two running backs who could’ve been racking up Fantasy Football points instead of playing at Georgia, was the triggerman for all of that.
Just a freshman. Playing in this conference.
I had the chance to spend a lot of time with Fromm during his senior year. Ironically, today marks the one-year anniversary when he jumped at the chance to promote the class by taking the first of two turns dressing up as “Santa Jake” in two of DawgNation’s Christmas commitment videos.
Fromm and freshman safety Richard LeCounte III both drove hours at a time to play roles in two separate videos last December. Why? It is the sort of thing those two will always do.
Did I see season like this coming from Fromm? Well, there was the matter of 5-star sophomore Jacob Eason ahead of him on the depth chart.
When Fromm arrived at Georgia, I processed all the things I had come to know about him (arm, brain, toughness, work ethic, zeal for the game) and thought this: Yeah, he could.
With all due respect to Eason, I eventually began answering questions from fans across all our DawgNation.com coverage platforms this way: Jacob Eason was going to become the best he could be this season or Fromm would beat him out.
For the record, Fromm never “beat” out Eason. The unfortunate injury to Eason gave Fromm a slight crack. An opportunity. Fromm went through it and never looked back.
The great Alabama high school coach Josh Niblett preaches to his players about being at their best when their best is required. That seems like the simplest way to cover the vast amount of preparation Fromm puts into every game.
If anyone could win at Notre Dame in his first college start at quarterback, Fromm could.
When those All-American bowl game coaches all said that there was something different about Fromm, they were right.
It was a reporter’s feeling. That gut instinct we try to convey. I’ve learned things about Fromm over the last few years that do not fit the margins of the best high school athletes I’ve seen across two decades.
Repetition helps. When a guy sees it enough, that’s when something which really stands out pops.
When Jake Fromm signed his financial aid papers last November to play for Georgia, his defensive coordinator Ryan Crawford said Fromm made him want to be a better coach.
Von Lassiter, his coach at the time, also got very misty-eyed that day.
The room wasn’t that dusty. It was because of what Fromm meant to their program.
Recruiting reporters will cover dozens of All-Americans every year. We hardly ever see moments like that.
But those just seem to follow Fromm.
Another Jake Fromm Little League World Series story
Georgia fans tell me they see the Jake Fromm Little League World Series story evolving into those Pop Warner pictures of David Greene and David Pollack. They would always see those photos of the young Greene and young Pollack on CBS during their time in Athens.
But there’s another Little League story that most might not know.
If you’ve seen those Little League World Series broadcasts, then you know each player is introduced on camera. They are asked to name their favorite baseball player. That’s just good TV. It adds to the Norman Rockwell tones of the broadcast.
Fromm’s reply appears below. It is a hiccup past the 12-second mark.
“Hi, my name is Jake Fromm,” he says. “My favorite player is Dillon Strickland.”
Dillon Strickland. Not Chipper Jones or Josh Hamilton. Not Dan Uggla or even Brian McCann.
There’s a layered reason why Fromm said that. The direct route is to say he honored a friend. A friend who had the hard-working values he wanted to always emulate.
Fromm wanted that to be his favorite player. Not some millionaire he’d only seen on TV.
It speaks to his Middle Georgia roots. Emerson and Lee Fromm are the parents straight from Hollywood central casting. They live by the right values. Everyone is an immediate friend. They also love their three boys more than anything in this world.
“He and I were talking a little bit,” Emerson Fromm said. “Jake said who should I put down as my favorite player? We just were shooting it around and went through a bunch of names.”
His father said the name “Dillon Strickland” kind of as a joke.
“We were still teed off about how the hardest-working kid out there didn’t get any love,” Emerson Fromm said. “And it was Dillon Strickland.”
In short, Strickland was a kid who could’ve been on one of those elite Little League teams from Warner Robins.
He just didn’t make the cut.
“He was the underdog guy,” Emerson Fromm said. “The guy who should have maybe been there but maybe got politicked out of it.”
When he heard that name, Fromm made up his mind. He was 13 years old.
“I told him that Dillon Strickland would sincerely appreciate that if you wanted to do it,” his father said.
“That’s what I’m going to do,” Jake Fromm said.
Strickland was a year older than Jake. The Fromms felt he should have been on the team that fell short of a trip to Williamsport, Pa., the previous summer.
Everybody asked Fromm about Strickland. Dillon who?
“Jake just said that was a buddy from my hometown,” Emerson Fromm said. “Who should have been there. He just admired how hard he worked and nobody, in the end, appreciated what he did. Jake wanted to be known as a guy who worked that hard. Whether he was appreciated for it or not.”
Fromm wanted his moment to honor someone else. I’m probably going to wobble along as I draw this comparison, but that’s what being a quarterback is all about.
Why Jake Fromm has thrived as a freshman
The reason Fromm is so unique is that interpersonal relationship dynamic he nails so well.
He is a genuine guy in a locker room of blue-chip recruits. People want to play for him and to play with him. He’s the guy every cliché points to in the huddle, the one for whom his teammates will bleed for and lay it on the line. He makes the others in the huddle around him better.
Fromm knows the plays. He’s tough. Composed. All of that.
But to me, that’s the one thing I’ve seen out of Fromm that very few guys ever have. I will always carry the belief the highest levels of the quarterback position are found by what’s going on between the ears.
Those are the things Kirk Cousins and Drew Brees have. That NFL first-round quarterback bust we all know did not have those qualities.
Fromm is instantly likable. For all the right reasons.
He’s the player who causes his coaches to cry at his signing ceremony and the guy who puts on a Santa suit for a future teammate’s commitment video.
Georgia’s starting quarterback just seems to carry that level of personal sacrifice for others in his daily walk. He adds that rare trait to the pile of tools now required to be offered a scholarship to play quarterback in the SEC.
Just ask Dillon Strickland.
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