The Decision: Jake Fromm considers putting faith in Georgia football another season
ATHENS — Jake Fromm has a decision to make, and based on his history, it will come down to prayer.
Fromm openly shares the role faith plays in his life, both in his successes and the strength it has provided him in challenging situations.
It’s how Fromm stayed upbeat during Sugar Bowl preparations and led his team.
Fromm was relaxed and smiling in New Orleans, even when the team was seemingly crumbling around him with key support cast leaving early for the NFL, players being suspended and a depleted receiving corps filled with injuries.
Fromm was so positive that he made ESPN veteran reporter Holly Rowe cry, as she was overcome with his spirt and conviction amid adversity.
“I kind of have strength in knowing that Christ is not going to put me in any position that I can’t handle,” Fromm said leading up to the game.
“I know I’m prepared and well-armored for anything I walk into.”
Fromm directed a 26-14 Sugar Bowl win over Baylor, finding freshman WR George Pickens 12 times for 175 yards and a TD, avoiding turnovers against the only defense in college football with 40 sacks and 30 turnovers.
It was a happy ending to a challenging season for Georgia, but was it a happy enough ending for Fromm to leave on?
Fromm’s likely not feeling any pressure now or looking to force any decisions, even as the fanbase waits.
It’s a matter of going through the progressions, gaining all the information, praying and waiting for a sign.
The deadline for NFL teams to know which underclassmen are available is Jan. 20.
So Georgia fans want to know: What Will Jake Do? Indeed, WWJD?
Does Fromm want another year in the spotlight contending for a national championship at the college level? Or does the anonymity of holding a clipboard on an NFL sideline next season suit him better?
The pressure at football-crazed Georgia should not be underestimated. This is especially true with the existing social media phenomenon that has led to student-athletes dealing with anonymous attacks on a daily basis.
Smart has addressed that it’s a very real thing, to the extent the Bulldogs and many other programs have professionals on hand to help the student-athletes deal with the stress and anxiety that has become a part of their world.
Who could forget the emotional scene that unfolded at Florida, when Smart embraced Fromm with a telling message: “Don’t ever doubt Jake Fromm!”
The Bulldogs have become an annual national championship contender. Coming close the past few years has only added fuel to a fire that has been burning since they last won the title in 1980.
The face of the program, Fromm has been in the middle of that firestorm. Georgia was a few plays away from winning the 2017 College Football Playoff Championship.
The opportunity to get back into the College Football Playoffs next season is back within Fromm’s grasp, but it comes at a price.
Is pressure really a privilege?
Georgia will have a national championship caliber defense next season.
There’s no doubt about that when one considers who is returning off a unit that was best in the SEC this season in total defense, scoring defense and run defense — and No. 8 in the nation against the pass.
The Bulldogs have a much more manageable schedule this season, even with a Sept. 19 trip to Alabama.
There’s always the Florida game in Jacksonville, as Fromm is 3-0 vs. the Gators. Auburn and Tennessee, the next biggest SEC threats, are both home games.
Fromm would be directing a young, but talented offense that wouldn’t be asked to do much more than his freshman season, in terms of the emphasis on efficiency.
The difference from then to now, and perhaps next season, is that Fromm would need to be the central figure and make plays on occasion.
In terms of raising NFL draft stock, that’s one way Fromm could do it.
Fromm would need to work to develop the young players around him. That would mean investing the time to build not only timing and chemistry, but also relationships.
It’s an every day thing that requires complete buy-in and conviction from everyone involved.
The most notable SEC quarterback in recent memory that could understand the scope of pressure that would be on Fromm should he return is Peyton Manning.
The same sort of pressures were on Manning when he returned for his senior year at Tennessee in 1997, and that was in an era of no social media. For Manning, it was beat Florida, or else.
“Or else” happened, and while some Heisman Trophy voters lost their minds in the moment — has there been a greater college player than Manning not to win the award? — Manning’s career turned out fine, with 5 NFL MVP trophies and a couple of Super Bowl rings.
Manning turned down first-round draft status to return for his senior season.
Fromm is not a first-round 2020 NFL Draft pick, and he’s probably not a second-round selection, either. For all of his intangibles, and Fromm seemingly has all of them going for him, his physical skills are adequate, at best.
But Fromm is a leader, and his legacy at Georgia is strong, whether he returns for his senior season, or not.
There aren’t many who can measure up to Fromm’s accomplishments: An SEC title, a Rose Bowl win, a Sugar Bowl win, three straight SEC East crowns and three straight wins over rivals Florida, Tennessee, Auburn and Georgia Tech.
Fromm has played 41 of 43 games with his team in contention for a national championship, and he has let to allow the pressure affect his performance.
Does Jake Fromm want to sign up for another national championship chase at the college level, or will his heart and spirit lead him in another direction?
God only knows what’s next for Georgia football, either way.