ATHENS — Jake Fromm may or may not be superstitious. He’s definitely a creature of habit, though. That was evident this past weekend when he hustled back home to Warner Robins shortly after the Georgia Tech game.
His aim was to do exactly what he did this time last year, and that was to go duck hunting with his family, former coach and a few friends.
Jake Fromm (second from right), his high school coach Von Lassiter (far right) and grandfather, father and brothers, went on their annual duck hunt after the Georgia Tech game this past Sunday morning. (Family photo)
“It’s just kind of a way to get your mind off things real quick and then, ‘hey, let’s get back to work and put in all we can for the week,” Fromm said during Georgia’s Media Day gathering Monday for the SEC Championship Game. “We did a pretty good job, shot a bunch of ducks, had a good time with family, which is always fun. Anytime you’re in the swamp with your brothers and family, it’s awesome.”
Fromm did the exact same thing the weekend before the SEC Championship Game last year. Georgia beat Auburn 28-7 the following Saturday.
“Well, it worked last year. Hopefully it will work this year,” Fromm said with a shrug.
Fromm and the Bulldogs will need all the mojo they can muster against Alabama, which was installed as a 13.5-point favorite for Saturday’s game. While this time it’s for the conference title, it’s a rematch of last year’s national championship game. Georgia lost that one 26-23 in overtime.
So these are two teams with which each is quite familiar. Fromm is especially knowledgeable about Alabama. Not only did he play against the Crimson Tide in last year’s championship game, but he was committed to the program for quite some time while attending Houston County High.
During that time and the months and years that followed, Fromm also became good friends with Tua Tagovailoa. In fact, the two remain very good friends. Fromm said they have stayed in touch since they first met during the Elite 11 evaluation process. More recently, they both attended the same quarterback camp back this past May.
“Really good friends,” Fromm said. “He’s an awesome competitor, a really good football player and a great follower of Jesus.”
When it comes to the teams doing battle on Saturday, the quarterbacks’ connection is even more profound. Ultimately, it was Fromm’s decommitment from Alabama that opened up a spot for Tagovailoa in the Crimson Tide’s Class of 2017.
That’s something that Tagovailoa apparently didn’t realize until Monday, when informed on a SEC Championship Game teleconference call.
“I didn’t know that Jake was committed here before I committed,” Tagovailoa said. “My father kind of implied that we should come here, too. I thought it would be easier for us as a family to stay on the West Coast, but it was more so a family decision to come to (Alabama) and it’s one of those things where it’s
cultural. So it’s what my parents wanted more than what I wanted, you know? And it’s worked out great.”
It has worked out well for both individuals. Fromm became Georgia’s starting quarterback after Jacob Eason was injured in the first game of the 2017 season and Tagovailoa become the Crimson Tide’s starting quarterback after relieving Jalen Hurts in the second half of last year’s national championship game against the Bulldogs.
Georgia fans may recall Tagovailoa’s 41-yard touchdown pass on second-and-26 to win the game 26-23 in OT.
Eleven months later, both remain starters for their respective schools and both are ranked among the top three quarterbacks in the nation in pass efficiency.
“I think it comes down to the kind of offenses we run,” Fromm said of their mutual success. “You get the ball to great play-makers and obviously our coaches are putting us in great situations. … I’m just wishing him the best.”
Heading into Saturday’s game, Georgia has to be concerned about how both quarterbacks play. But the Bulldogs definitely like their guy, both for his on-field play and off-field leadership. Fromm has played extremely well the second half of the season, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s already done the whole Mercedes-Benz Stadium/championship-atmosphere thing — twice.
“But this year is a different year,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “The fact that he’s played (12 games) has more to do with it than who we played. The fact he’s played and gotten experience, that he’s gone against our defense all spring, all fall. … That’s more valuable than just playing Alabama. But the fact that he played against them last year, sometimes that helps.”
Having been there and done that before definitely has Fromm feeling better about the challenge that awaits him and the Bulldogs on Saturday.
“Anytime you’re playing at this stage it doesn’t matter who you’re playing, you ultimately want to win and be successful,” Fromm said. “As far as playing them last year, I really kind of flushed that out of my mind. The game happened, it is what it is. I’m just ready for a new opportunity to come out and play and play my best. Let’s go out and win it.”
So Fromm is sticking to his SEC Championship week formula. So far that’s off to a great start with what he said was a very successful mid-Georgia duck hunt. As for the where and how that went off, the seasoned hunter wasn’t about to offer details.
“I’m afraid I can’t tell y’all that,” he said of his family’s favorite blind.