Hello, Jamie Newman: Meet the man taking the reins from Jake Fromm as Georgia's quarterback
A stroke of misfortune probably kick-started the career of new Georgia quarterback Jamie Newman.
It was 2018, and Newman was embroiled in a neck-and-neck position battle with true freshman Sam Hartman at Wake Forest before a pulled quad sidelined the redshirt sophomore. The thinking was that under normal circumstances, the job could have gone to either player, but Newman’s injury — in the final scrimmage of the preseason — meant Hartman was QB1.
Then came Nov. 3, 2018, where Hartman ended up absorbing a hit at Syracuse that injured his right leg and cost him the rest of the season.
Enter Newman, and the rest was history.
“So Newman goes in at the end of the season and wins 3 of 4 games, and those were the 3 best teams that Wake Forest beat – an NC State team that appeared destined for a 10-win season, a Duke team with 6th overall pick Daniel Jones and a Memphis team in the Birmingham Bowl that had a lot of the same contributors for a 12-win season,” Winston-Salem Journal Wake Forest beat reporter Conor O’Neill told SDS. “The thought process for Newman to win the job before this season had as much to do with that as had to do with Newman outplaying Hartman to win the starting job.”
And the Graham, N.C., product showed that he was the right call over Hartman for 2019: 2,868 yards and 26 touchdowns passing and 180 carries for 574 yards and 6 touchdowns on the ground. He not only ended the year 4th all-time in Wake Forest history in single-season passing yards and tied for 2nd all-time in passing touchdowns in a season (3 behind predecessor John Wolford), but he helped the Demon Deacons boast a pair of 1,000-yard receivers for the 1st time in school history. He also reached the 2,000-yard mark quicker than any Deacs quarterback and threw at least 1 touchdown pass in 12 consecutive games, a school record.
A cynic would note those numbers came in the ACC, and that Newman had his worst performance against Clemson (41 yards passing, 2 INTs in a 52-3 loss). But Newman had a skill set that not many Wake Forest quarterbacks before him had.
O’Neill said that 6-4, 230-pound QBs who throw the deep ball and run like Newman does “don’t come around often.”
“I understand there’s probably a tendency to downgrade the ACC and, believe me, this season the ACC deserved to be downgraded,” O’Neill said. “But you don’t put up (his numbers) without significant talent.”
Newman’s 1st full season as the Deacs’ starting quarterback turned out to be his last. On New Year’s Day 2019, with his bachelor’s degree completed, he announced that he would enter the transfer portal. Three days after Jake Fromm declared for the NFL Draft, Newman picked Georgia.
And Newman, who’s already being considered a dark horse Heisman pick, will have more offensive weapons at his disposal at Georgia than he’s ever had.
The Bulldogs return a pair of potentially elite wide receivers in George Pickens and Dominick Blaylock, while adding incoming players like Florida State grad transfer Tre’ McKitty, a possible instant-impact tight end in Darnell Washington, and a pair of top 10 wide receivers in Jermaine Burton and Marcus Rosemy.
Newman and the Bulldogs understand his tenure will serve as a bridge between the Fromm era and the future of the quarterback position in Athens. Georgia has a pair of elite recruits in the 2021 class on its radar in pro-style signal-caller Brock Vandagriff—who stars at Prince Avenue Christian School, just minutes from UGA — and the top dual-threat quarterback in the country in Washington, D.C.’s Caleb Williams. (Vandagriff reportedly will take an unofficial visit later this month; Williams has been on campus several times and is sure to name the Dawgs as a finalist as he pares his list.)
While that’s at the back of the mind of Kirby Smart, the biggest focus is on 2020 and getting Georgia back to the College Football Playoff. And how Newman acclimates to the offensive system is important: He showed his capability at Wake Forest as an excellent passer, and while he does have the ability to run, he’s not as prolific as a Jalen Hurts or, a bit closer to home, Ole Miss freshman sensation John Rhys Plumlee.
The good news is that it appears that Smart is willing to adjust the offense to Newman’s strengths with his hiring of former Southern Miss head coach and NFL offensive coordinator Todd Monken. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers rose from 17th in the NFL in passing yards in 2016 to 4th in 2017 and the league lead in 2018 under Monken’s guidance, while he led a Southern Miss team that won just once and averaged just 242.6 yards passing in his first season in 2013 to a 9-5 record and a 329.7 yards-per-game mark through the air in 2015.
Monken’s quarterback that year, Nick Mullens, amassed 4,476 yards passing — 6th in FBS — while his 38 touchdowns tied with Washington State’s Luke Falk for 4th in the country. It’s evident that a quarterback like Newman can truly thrive in the “Air Raid” system that Monken implemented to reboot a struggling Southern Miss program.
If Georgia plans to develop a more aggressive passing game — which the recent addition of coach Todd Monken indicates they might — Wake Forest transfer Jamie Newman looks like the ideal QB.
— CFB Film Room (@CFBFilmRoom) January 17, 2020
“Newman is looking for a system that doesn’t put as much of an emphasis on designed quarterback runs,” O’Neill said. “I think he understands how valuable he is as a runner; he just doesn’t want that to be the best feature of his skill-set. His acclimation will come as a pocket passer who can also hurt teams by scrambling.”
If there’s any part of Newman’s game that needs work, it’s his “short-to-intermediate passing accuracy,” O’Neill said. It’s worth noting that Newman threw 11 INTs last season — 2nd-most in the ACC. (Fromm, by comparison, had 11 in 2018 and 2019 combined.)
“It’s not bad; it’s just not where it needs to be for him to be a 1st-round QB,” O’Neill said. “He struggles to read underneath coverages and it’s led to a few interceptions … In a different style of offense, he should improve in this aspect.”
While Newman is leaving the ACC behind, he’ll start his Georgia career against an ACC team, Virginia, in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on a Monday night, Sep. 7. Georgia fans will hope Newman will have the Dawgs playing on another Monday night 18 weeks after that, at Hard Rock Stadium for the national championship on Jan. 11.
And if the Wake Forest grad transfer is the quarterback to lead them to a 1st title in over 40 years, he’ll have secured his place in Georgia football lore.