I’m gonna talk about “ball” a little bit today. You have been warned. But not really. At least, “ball” is not the point.
Maybe greed is. Or the evolution of society. I don’t know. But “ball” is the vehicle by which I intend to make my point.
Exhibit A. Jake Fromm.
Jake Fromm is a great guy. He likes to hunt and fish and do all those guy things. He claims Jesus Christ as his personal savior and is not ashamed to say so publicly, which he has done on numerous occasions.
Jake grew up playing sports and has always been very good at them. His Little League team almost won the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Penn. He played quarterback in high school for Houston County and almost won a state championship.
After high school he entered the University of Georgia to play football for Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs. He almost beat out five-star wunderkind Jacob Eason to become a rare Opening Day quarterback as a true freshman.
A few minutes into the first game of the 2017 season, Jacob Eason became the Wally Pipp of UGA quarterbacks and injured his ankle. Fromm took over, did a great job, and started every game for the next three years. He almost led Georgia to the National Championship that freshman year. He did engineer victories over Notre Dame in South Bend and Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl and Auburn in the SEC Championship game. Georgia had Alabama on the ropes, in Atlanta, in the CFP Championship game but let their foot off the gas in the second half and lost in overtime.
Jake would start for two more years, almost making the CFP again in 2018 (Georgia finished fifth; top four go) and almost making it in 2019 (Georgia finished 5th; top 4 go.)
With three victories over Auburn, Florida, Georgia Tech and Tennessee, Jake presided over what was almost the best three-year run in Georgia football history.
Sports fans in general are a fickle lot. The second half of 2019, Jake’s productivity took a hit. There were many reasons. Lack of quality receivers. Questionable offensive schemes. Jake’s confidence, perhaps, was a little shaken. His footwork and fundamentals weren’t quite as sharp as they had been. A lot of Georgia fans turned on Jake and blamed him for the fact that Georgia was not the best team in college football but only the fourth or fifth best team, again.
So, this week Jake Fromm made it known that he was going to bypass his final year of eligibility and go try his hand at making a career in the NFL. You would have thought the world had been scheduled to end by the moans and groans and social media posts. The same fans that were lambasting Jake were acting as if Georgia wouldn’t be able to line up and play its schedule next year.
Now understand something. I admire and respect Jake Fromm. I think he is a great young man and appreciate all he achieved at the University of Georgia. I thank him for the memories he’s helped me make. I am also on record as having said that I wanted him to come back to school next year to take care of some unfinished business. Plus, I don’t think he is ready to be a premier NFL quarterback, and I think another year of college football would help him be better prepared.
If not, I think it would have helped cement his legacy as the greatest Georgia QB ever. I think he would have had a chance at that elusive National Championship.
But Jake and his parents evaluated the situation and made the decision that they believed to best serve Jake, and I support them in that decision.
Elijah Hollifield made a similar decision this time last year and has not played in an NFL game, to date. Isaac Nauta made the same decision last year. He failed to make an NFL roster but was added as to the Detroit Lions’ roster around Thanksgiving. He caught two passes this year — for 13 yards.
My greatest fear is that this time next year we will be searching the internet for evidence that Jake Fromm played football somewhere on the planet. I have no such fear as far as the University of Georgia is concerned. Georgia played football for 124 years before Jake Fromm arrived on campus. We will continue to play football, at least until television and money destroy the game so many of us love.
The year after Herschel Walker left early to play for the New Jersey Generals, some people doubted whether Vince Dooley could even field a team. Georgia went 10-1-1 and finished fourth in the nation. And it will forevermore be 10 to 9 in Texas.
There will be life between the hedges after Jake Fromm.
Good luck, Jake. We appreciate you. Thanks for the memories. You were almost the greatest quarterback ever to play for the red and black.
Godspeed. And for those of us still here, the 2020 season kicks off in 231 days.