That was a pair of 5-star QBs. Both on their way to UGA. Both starring in a documentary series that chronicles their final season of high school football.
“The great difference between QB1 and Friday Night Lights? This is REAL”- Peter Berg talks QB1 ahead of Wednesday's season 2 premiere. pic.twitter.com/Fezg5WCjB1
— QB1 (@QB1show) February 26, 2018
Sound like DawgNation deja vu? Imagine how Brett Whitcomb feels. He spent the last two football seasons working with the next great Georgia QB.
The local producer for the streaming “QB1: Beyond the Lights” program embedded himself into Jake Fromm’s world in 2016. He then did the same for 10 full weeks with Justin Fields in 2017.
Who said football season has to end?
— QB1 (@QB1show) February 7, 2018
He had a funny line when considering the odds of working with another 5-star QB on the way to UGA in the fall of 2018.
“It is going to get so weird,” Whitcomb said while holding back an eventual chuckle. “I won’t mind again if it is again close to my house. I will like it. But if it happens again (another UGA recruit) I might get investigated for some kind of weirdness going on. I don’t want that.”
The series offers the chance for UGA fans to relive it. But they know this time it ends with Fields in red and black.
"Stay home brother, stay home”
— QB1 (@QB1show) March 17, 2018
Fields is one of three major character arcs in Season 2 of the docu-series. It is available for streaming on Verizon’s portfolio of media brands including go90, Complex, Complex Networks’ Rated Red channel, Yahoo Sports, Yahoo View, Rivals.com, Fios On Demand and Fios1.
10-star work: Filming Jake Fromm and Justin Fields
It is a unique alignment of the stars. A pair of 5-stars, at that.
Whitman saw both up close in moments when the red light was off and on. He was there for major injuries to both.
The Rated Red cameras caught Fields being a typical teenager with chores. He’s cutting the grass late one evening because he didn’t do so right after practice.
“Right off just the similarities would be incredible family structure and just the best kind of parents you could ask for,” Whitman said. “Justin’s parents were just the most fantastic people and the same with Emerson and Lee (Fromm) and Jake’s parents. They were both incredibly hospitable. They got the show and understood what we were doing. That was exactly how it was when we first started with Justin.”
There are differences in those players, though. That’s even evident when following their careers.
“Justin is a little more reserved,” Whitman said. “He’s a little more quiet than Jake. Jake is a tad bit more outgoing and just kind of says things whenever he wants. He’s very energetic. Justin was a little more reserved but that was the only kind of difference.”
“But you could tell if you met them together, that you would kind of get that vibe. But both (are) highly intelligent kids. They prove it with their GPAs and when you are talking to them.”
He said both only needed about 15 minutes of prep. They were good to go with all the hours and hours of shooting after that. Whitman said he would shoot all day at Harrison. The goal was to come away with just a couple of minutes every day that might work for the show.
“Those two kids really got it and they never looked back,” he said. “Once I told them what we were doing, they just put their head down and went about their high school life.”
He felt the production was a “dream come true” from a creative standpoint.
“They ignored me,” Whitman said. “It was kind of a dream when Matt gave me the access to go in there and we had access to go to the school. Everyone was nice and welcoming and nice. Then they just did their job and kind of ignored us. Which is really kind of the best thing you can ask for when trying to do a documentary.”
How Harrison managed the film crews all season long
Harrison coach Matt Dickmann gives credit to Fields and his family. He thanked his father for providing the structure for his program to flourish under some intense media spotlight.
The family basically shut down all media access to Fromm. Except for that documentary crew.
“The one thing that Justin’s Dad, Pablo, did well was once the season started there were no more interviews,” Harrison coach Matt Dickmann said. “Which really made it much easier for me. Because I was getting one phone call or email request on the average of one to two per day. People would want to come to practice and you really don’t have time.”
Dickmann has lived those hours. The school day begins at 7 a.m. and the football practice wraps about 12 hours later. Now multiply that by the fact that Field was the nation’s top-rated recruit for his entire senior season. He also remained uncommitted until the first week of October.
“(Those requests) takes away from preparing for football and I don’t think the average person or fan understands that,” Dickmann said. “… If we would have done every request, I don’t know that we would have ever got anything done.”
The many layers to Justin Fields
The head coach feels that the crew has captured the essence of the young man he’s gotten to know so well over the last few years.
“I think for the most part they have shown how competitive he is,” Dickmann said. “They’ve shown his sense of humor. They have shown how serious he can be when it is game time because Justin is very intelligent but he also likes to have fun with his teammates. He also likes to compete and challenge people, too. I think they’ve done a good job of bringing that side out and showing that part of his personality, too.”
There’s one moment in the series where Fields tries to hit a teammate in the head during a lull in practice. His buddy is wearing a helmet and he’s attempting to cover about 20-30 yards with that heave.
It was a loft. Not a toss with the same amount of mustard on it that he used during the first day of spring practice at UGA on Tuesday.
“I would kid with him and tell him ‘Don’t do that’ because I know he was kidding around,” Dickmann said. “But I wanted him to know that is not him being a really good teammate when he is doing that. But that’s just him being a kid.”
That was the fun side he sometimes would show. That would be a counter to the cerebral and calculating presence he shifted into when surrounded by about 10 reporters at the Nike Opening out in Oregon.
“He would like to have fun with me,” Dickmann said. “He would say sometimes that ‘Coach, I can’t go today because I strained my hamstring’ but he was kidding with me. I wouldn’t know if he was kidding or not with me some days.”
So the ol’ coach would give as good as he got.
“I would kid him back and tell him that I was having chest pains that day and would have to go to the hospital,” Dickmann said. “I would tell him I wouldn’t be able to coach.”