My brother once told me something about high school athletes that made a lot of sense.

That is, most athletes realize if they’re actually capable of playing professional sports in their sophomore year of high school. Not all, but most.

It’s a separation year. That sophomore season is usually when kids make physical and mental improvements to how they approach athletics.

Sometimes, there’s the sophomore year realization that being done growing at 5-9 isn’t exactly how NBA players talk about their high school days (that was my realization). Other times, it’s the realization that becoming great takes a different kind of discipline to the craft that few have.

I can’t help but think of that and how it relates to Jake Fromm.

Yes, the Georgia quarterback is well past his sophomore year of high school. And no, my question isn’t if he’ll become an NFL quarterback (I’d assume most high school seniors who are the subject of a documentary-style show on their journey believe that they’ll play in the NFL).

My question with Fromm as he heads into his sophomore year is basic, but I feel like it’s been a bit overlooked. Maybe it’s because of how the national championship ended or how the Justin Fields era began. Whatever the case, there’s a question that I’m fascinated to get an answer to in 2018.

How great can Fromm be?

Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Tebow won a Heisman Trophy, as did Johnny Manziel. Deshaun Watson won ACC Offensive Player of the Year and led his team to a national championship berth. Jameis Winston did all of that and he won a national title.

What did those great quarterbacks of the last decade have in common? They accomplished each of those feats in their second seasons.

If Fromm is going to join that elite company, something tells me that’s the type of year he’ll have to have in 2018. Who’s to say he won’t? None of those aforementioned greats started as a true freshman for a team that made it to the National Championship Game. And yeah, having the most prolific running back duo in FBS history helped, but don’t undersell what Fromm did in 2017.

You’ve already heard all of the stats, but just in case you forgot:

  • 24-7 touchdown pass-interception ratio
  • No. 9 in FBS in passing efficiency
  • 9.0 yards per attempt on 62 percent passing
  • 41.6 pass attempts per interception
  • 1.3 sacks taken per game

Those are all remarkable numbers for a true freshman quarterback. Skeptics would point out that Fromm’s cumulative numbers (174.3 passing yards per game on 19.4 attempts) don’t scream “next superstar quarterback,” but can you imagine if Fromm averaged 35 passing attempts per game with that backfield? That wouldn’t make any sense.

Even without Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, Georgia’s backfield looks loaded for years to come. While I do expect Jim Chaney to ramp up Fromm’s role in the offense — he did much more later in the season — I don’t think we’ll ever see a scenario in which Fromm averages 39 passing attempts per game in a season like Watson did in 2016.

So does that limit Fromm’s upside? Statistically speaking, probably. Fromm might always be viewed as an AJ McCarron-type player. Win a ton of games, make smart decisions, be extremely efficient and have people constantly debating how good he is because of the championship-caliber team he plays on.

I think just from an upside perspective as a passer, though, Fromm is more talented than McCarron.

I talked to ESPN analyst/Elite 11 coach Trent Dilfer about Fromm a couple months ago for the Saturday Down South Podcast, and he came up with a much loftier comparison for the Georgia quarterback.

Dilfer went with Drew Brees. As for a college comparison for Fromm, Dilfer picked Baker Mayfield. Really. That’s what kind of potential some see in Fromm.

I thought there was a specific play in the second half of the national championship that confirmed why the sky is still the limit with Fromm. On 3rd-and-11 from their 12-yard line with Alabama bringing pressure, look at the 48-yard throw that Fromm made that resulted in an 80-yard touchdown pass (via Highlight Heaven):

If he can make that kind of a throw in an obvious passing down against the nation’s best defense coached by the best coach in college football history in the national championship, what throw can’t he make?

I mean, my goodness. Don’t tell me that Fromm lacks anything physically to become a special quarterback.

We know the mental makeup is there, too. We knew that from the moment he started his first game at Notre Dame … and won.

I remember 9 months ago when I talked to Fromm’s high school coach, Von Lassiter. I came away from our conversation wondering if Fromm had any flaws. Like, as a human.

“He’s an elite athlete, an elite quarterback, an elite person, an elite competitor, an elite motivator. Everything he does is based on trying to be perfect. You can’t find fault in that,” Lassiter told me in September. “He’s worked extremely hard to learn what they wanted him to learn, and he has proven that he can do that on the field. He’s proven that he can trust his teammates to help him to do that.

“That just came from something God gave him at birth because he’s a different human being.”

So if he checks all the boxes mentally — something Kirby Smart confirmed countless times — and Fromm can make all the throws, he absolutely can be great. Sure, he needs to develop in certain areas. His ability to go through his progressions is the big one, and a quarterback who knows how to make the right adjustments at the line of scrimmage is huge.

But those are the types of things you expect a quarterback to need to improve after Year 1. If that’s still holding Fromm back in Year 2, then that’s going to limit just how great he can be.

Will Fromm become the next great quarterback in college football? I haven’t seen anything to suggest that he won’t be. Passing attempts will hold him back from being the next Watson, and Fromm will never be the rushing threat that Tebow or Manziel were. That much I’m confident in.

Still, Fromm can be great in his own way. Something tells me we’ll get plenty of reminders of that in 2018.