Don't let an up-and-down 2019 take away from what Jake Fromm meant to Georgia
Let’s get the bad out of the way.
Jake Fromm struggled at times during his junior year. His 2019 season led to speculation that he might return to Georgia for his senior year. Fromm watched his passing efficiency, completion percentage and touchdown passes take a dip for a Georgia team that lost in the SEC Championship for the second consecutive season.
While the likes of Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa took their games to new levels — not to mention Justin Fields earned a Heisman Trophy invite after transferring from Georgia — Fromm’s production didn’t reach new heights. Part of that was the fact that Georgia replaced its top 5 receivers from a year ago, and another part was the growing pains of working with first-year Georgia play-caller James Coley.
After getting there as a true freshman in 2017, Fromm never led Georgia back to a national championship. He couldn’t help Kirby Smart beat Alabama, and LSU had the Dawgs’ number each of the past 2 years.
OK, are we good now? And by “good,” I mean, is there any more “bad” that you want me to address with Fromm?
Oh, that’s right. How could I forget the infamous fishing lure injury? Or what about the time he broke his hand while on a boat with his buddies? That has to be mentioned here.
OK, now we should be good. You see, I wanted to get all the bad out of the way because when Fromm announced his intentions of leaving Georgia early for the NFL Draft, I fear that many minds drifted to the negative. A quarterback who burst onto the scene as a true freshman and but didn’t win a national championship is bound to have some haters, especially when the numbers suggest he regressed.
But man, that’d be an awfully ignorant way to remember Fromm’s time at Georgia.
There’s no reason this year should take away from what he accomplished in 3 years. In case you need a reminder of that, Fromm was an exceptional college quarterback:
- 78-18 TD-INT
- 156.2 passer rating
- 63% passer
- 35-7 as a starter
- 3-0 vs. Florida
- 3 SEC East titles
- 3 New Year’s 6 Bowl berths
- 6 wins vs. top 10 teams
By the way, that last stat about 6 wins vs. top 10 teams is especially important. Fromm has twice as many such victories as any quarterback in Georgia history (via Jason Starrett).
I’m also going to give Fromm the school record for most 5-star quarterbacks forced off-campus. People who want to rid themselves of context will say the coaches made that mistake, and that Fromm should have found a new home.
And to those people, I say, read a book.
Better yet, go back to the only time that had a possibility of happening. After that LSU loss in 2018, Fromm got off to a slow start the following game against Florida. It was a make-or-break game for Georgia’s season, and really, for Fromm’s career. Had he not picked things up late in the first half, I believe Fields is still in Athens right now. He would have taken the job and never looked back.
You remember what Fromm did, though? He connected with Isaac Nauta a billion consecutive times (only a slight exaggeration) and then torched Florida in the second half. Fromm was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week for his doubters-silencing performance. And when he led Georgia to 4 consecutive blowout victories to keep Playoff hopes alive heading into the SEC Championship, how did he respond? By throwing for 301 yards, 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions against Alabama.
(I won’t make Georgia fans relive what happened in the 4th quarter, nor will I make them flash back to the dud that followed in the Sugar Bowl.)
People can complain all they want about how that season ended, but to dismiss what Fromm did to put Georgia in that position would be foolish. Also foolish would suggesting that instantly starting a true freshman over Fromm, AKA the guy who helped lead Georgia in its first national championship berth since the Herschel Walker era, was the obvious move.
Speaking of Walker, Fromm started all but 1 game for Georgia during the program’s most successful 3-year stretch since the All-American tailback was in Athens. No, that wasn’t just because of the defense and dominant running game. You don’t have that successful of a career in the SEC without being able to make big-time throws in big-time moments.
— Kyle Jordan (@KyleLive5) December 1, 2018
Jake Fromm has never excited me that much as a prospect. But this game, and especially this drive, make me reconsider. Fromm is showing off some fantastic ball placement today, including this Platonic form of a back-shoulder to WR #15 Lawrence Cager. Amazing catch, too. pic.twitter.com/jzaWRrq4uG
— Fed Scivittaro (@MeshPointScout) September 22, 2019
You could make an entire highlight reel of Fromm’s back-shoulder throws. That’s not a given on this level. One reason I think he didn’t flourish this year was because once Lawrence Cager went down, he really didn’t have anyone who he trusted on that back-shoulder throw. That’s a play that takes time and a strong rapport to develop.
Is it an excuse for Fromm’s indecisiveness at times this year? No. That’s something he needs to work on at the next level. Many have already pointed that out.
But I’d love to go back to the moment that Jacob Eason went down in the 2017 opener. Remember that moment of uncertainty when the former 5-star QB who got all the offseason buzz about making that Year 2 jump was suddenly injured. Keep in mind this was coming off a 4-4 season in SEC play in Smart’s first year.
Picture telling a Georgia fan in that moment that Eason’s replacement would:
- A) Throw for more career TD passes than all but 1 Georgia player
- B) Finish his career within 2 points of Aaron Murray’s UGA record in passing efficiency
- C) Lead UGA to its first national championship berth in 35 years
- D) Go 17-1 vs. SEC East w/ 3 division titles
- E) All the above
It’s “E.” It’s always “E.”
And it goes without saying, but Fromm was a model face of the program for 3 years. This past year, he was the team’s community service award winner and he was 1 of 3 UGA players to be named to the 2019 CoSIDA Academic All-District Team.
What more could you have asked for?
And look, I get it. He’s not the pro prospect that Matthew Stafford was and he won’t have the cumulative career numbers that a 4-year guy like Murray had. The fact that Fromm’s career coincided with Tua Tagovailoa’a certainly made him second fiddle for much of his time in the SEC.
You can say that Fromm didn’t live up to expectations his junior year. Shoot, I had Georgia winning the national championship. I thought he’d be better in this offense, which had talent but couldn’t quite find its rhythm like the Alabamas and LSUs of the world.
But don’t for a second tell me that Georgia is somehow better with Fromm moving on to the NFL. He’ll end his career as one of the program’s most important players of the 21st century. At a moment that could have been a crossroads during the Smart era, Fromm stepped in like he’d been doing it his whole life.
Appreciate an outstanding college career, no matter what the internet tells you about an up-and-down junior season.