Jake Fromm's departure leaves door wide open for Florida to reclaim SEC East
Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm announced his decision Wednesday to enter the 2020 NFL Draft. Fromm, the 2017 SEC Freshman of the year and a SEC champion, leaves Athens as one of the greatest players in Georgia’s illustrious football history.
Fromm completed 63.3% of his passes in a 3-year career as a starter, accounting for 81 Georgia touchdowns and throwing for 8,236 yards. Beyond the terrific numbers, Fromm was a consummate winner and program standard-bearer, going 36-7 as a starter and becoming the first SEC East starting quarterback since Danny Wuerffel to advance to 3 consecutive SEC Championship games, winning his, of course, in 2017 as a freshman. All told, it was a special career for Fromm, a champion on the field and off it.
Should his UGA career have ended tonight, Jake Fromm will finish with:
– 8,224 passing yards
– 78 touchdown passes
– Best completion % in UGA history
– SEC Championship
– 3 SEC East titles
– Rose Bowl
– Never lost to Florida.
– Led team to Natty.
— blakejmorgan (@bIakejmorgan) January 2, 2020
The ramifications of Fromm’s early exit go well-beyond Athens. They color and reshape the SEC picture for 2020.
With Fromm, Georgia would have the most experienced, best starting quarterback in the SEC next season, coupled with a revamped wide receiver room stocked with blue-chips like it were a bass fishing lake. Couple that experience with the core of a veteran defense that finished the season ranked 4th nationally in total defense and 3rd in yards allowed per play, and you’d have yourself a compelling national championship contender.
Without Fromm, Georgia now must find answers from an inexperienced quarterback room, limiting the impact of the rebuilt receiver room, all while contending with colossal personnel losses elsewhere on offense. D’Andre Swift is also gone. Lawrence Cager, the team’s leading receiver most the season, is also gone. Cade Mays is gone — and suing the football program. Tight end Charlie Woerner is gone.
So significant are Georgia’s personnel losses that when the Bulldogs kick off the 2020 season in Atlanta against a Virginia program coming off an Orange Bowl bid, they’ll start new players at quarterback, running back, tight end, left tackle, left guard, right guard and right tackle. That’s heady stuff, especially for a program that struggled at times from a schematic standpoint on offense despite personnel continuity.
Don’t get me wrong. Georgia is still loaded. The Bulldogs have recruited at an obscene level and there are plenty of 4- and 5-star players to step in for the departed.
But it will be difficult to replace the bulk of the best offensive line in school history, the sizzle of Swift and the sterling leadership of Fromm overnight. There will be growing pains in Athens, and with a trip to Tuscaloosa on tap in week three, an early season loss is very much in the picture.
Most of all, Fromm’s departure opens the door for Dan Mullen and Florida, twice SEC East runners-up to Fromm and the Dawgs in Mullen’s first 2 seasons. Put plainly, Fromm terrorized Florida, finishing his career unbeaten against the hated Gators. With him gone, Georgia will need to hit the transfer portal, where the QB pickings are far more slim than in past seasons — or start one of seldom-used Stetson Bennett, redshirt freshman D’Wan Mathis or true freshman Carson Beck, the No. 2 quarterback prospect from Florida, who has immense talent but would be a true freshman playing behind a new offensive line.
That uncertainty means the door is open for the Gators, and many fans, analysts and betting services alike jumped on that opening almost immediately after Fromm announced his departure for the NFL.
Florida Gators are going to win the SEC East next season. Book it.
— Danny Kanell (@dannykanell) January 8, 2020
Jake Fromm headed to NFL.
Congratulations to the Florida Gators – 2020 SEC East Champions.
— Auburn Alan (@SarcasmAndMore) January 8, 2020
First 2020 college football futures bet: Florida +1200 to win the SEC. It is available in NJ right now.
Next year Florida gets @ Ole Miss from the West while Georgia gets @ Alabama.
Florida should be the favorite in the East & with +1200 great hedge spot
— Matt Heiniger (@HeinigeronSport) January 8, 2020
For one, they will feature the best returning quarterback in the SEC in Kyle Trask, who finished in the top 15 in the country in passing efficiency this season without a running game and a young, erratic offensive line.
Yes, Trask loses 4 sterling senior receivers, but the Gators have recruited well at the position and will return All-American tight end Kyle Pitts to anchor the passing game.
Plus, if Trask is injured, Florida believes it has a ready-to-go solution (again) in redshirt sophomore Emory Jones, a player everyone in America recruited and a young man who has spent nearly two full years marinating under the watchful eye of Mullen, one of the best quarterback developers in the sport.
Florida ran the ball quite well in the final 2 games of the season, suggesting a young offensive line is coming of age — and Florida’s recruiting up front has picked up, giving the Gators a chance to have genuine depth — and balance — to support Trask and Jones in 2020.
Defensively, Florida will boast 7 returning starters from a unit that finished in the top 20 nationally, including key secondary pieces Marco Wilson and Shawn Davis, who each elected to bypass the NFL and play their senior seasons.
Plus, Florida’s schedule is very favorable, as the Gators draw Kentucky at home, South Carolina at home, a rebuilding Ole Miss from the SEC West and catch a break with LSU visiting The Swamp.
In other words, Fromm’s exit, along with other circumstances, creates a genuine opening for Mullen and Florida in the SEC East.
In the aftermath of the McElwain era’s systemic recruiting and offensive failure, Florida was always going to be a longer than usual rebuild, even for a turnaround expert like Mullen.
But the Gators have defied the odds and put together 2 excellent, New Year’s 6 bowl-winning seasons despite depth issues and this past season, devastating injuries. But each time, Georgia — and mainly, tremendous performances by Jake Fromm — shut the door on Florida’s dreams of Atlanta and with it, any chance at the College Football Playoff.
Now Fromm is gone and Florida, in Year 3 under Mullen, has a sleek, talented operation, a championship culture and a tremendous senior quarterback.
That’s usually a winning formula in the SEC. Can Mullen’s Gators put it all together and finally beat Kirby Smart and the Dawgs?
If not now, when?