Fromm try­ing to be­come 2nd true fresh­man QB to win it all

Calhoun Times - - SPORTS SATURDAY - By Paul New­berry

— Jake Fromm hardly looks like a guy less than a year re­moved from high school.

Poised and con­fi­dent, he was thrust into a start­ing role in his very first game at Ge­or­gia. Fromm quickly gained the re­spect of his team­mates, guided the Bull­dogs to one win af­ter an­other, and now he’s got them po­si­tioned to make a run at the big­gest prize of all.

Jamelle re­late.

He re­mains the only true fresh­man quar­ter­back to lead his team to a na­tional ti­tle in the mod­ern era.

Back in 1985, Holieway took over for the Soon­ers af­ter Troy Aik­man went down with a bro­ken leg in a loss to Mi­ami. They didn’t lose again, go­ing on to claim the No. 1 spot with a vic­tory over Penn State in the Orange Bowl.

“If he does win it, he won’t un­der­stand what it all meant un­til years later,” Holieway said Mon­day, re­fer­ring to Fromm. “When you’re a fresh­man, you just want to play and make a dif­fer­ence on the team.”

Fromm be­gan the sea­son as the backup to Ja­cob Ea­son, who started for the Bull­dogs in 2016 as a highly re­cruited player right out of high school.

Then, as it did 32 years ear­lier with Holieway, fate in­ter­vened.

Ea­son sus­tained a knee in­jury in a sea­son-open­ing vic­tory over Ap­palachian State. Fromm took over and the No. 2 Bull­dogs (9-0, 6-0) just kept rolling, claim­ing Holieway can the top spot in the first Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off rank­ings and clinch­ing a spot in the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence ti­tle game.

“There’s just a to­tal take-con­trol, a to­tal con­fi­dence about him,” for­mer Ge­or­gia coach Vince Dooley said. “If he makes a mis­take, he’s a quick learner from the mis­take that he makes. He’s not in­tim­i­dated by any­thing.”

Fromm made that clear in the sec­ond game of his ca­reer, his very first start for the Bull­dogs. On the road in one of col­lege foot­ball’s most hal­lowed venues, the young­ster kept lead­ing Ge­or­gia from be­hind for a 20-19 vic­tory over Notre Dame. It wasn’t a great per­for­mance sta­tis­ti­cally — Fromm com­pleted 16 of 29 for 141 yards, with one touch­down and one in­ter­cep­tion — but he never flinched.

No one left South Bend think­ing Ea­son would ever get his job back. This is Fromm’s team now. “That’s just his per­son­al­ity,” Bull­dogs coach Kirby Smart said. “He’s been that way his whole life. He’s got a lot of intangibles. He’s a good leader. He’s not afraid of com­pe­ti­tion.”

Fromm will face an­other tough en­vi­ron­ment Satur­day when the Bull­dogs travel to Auburn to face the No. 10 Tigers (7-2, 5-1).

This ap­pears to be the last po­ten­tial stum­bling block on the road to a per­fect reg­u­lar sea­son and an ex­pected show­down with No. 1 Alabama for the SEC ti­tle, a game that would have all the mak­ings of a de facto play­off game in the na­tional race.

Fromm’s march­ing or­ders are clear.

“He has to make good de­ci­sions. He has to ex­e­cute the plan. He has to be able to give the play­mak­ers the ball,” said Smart, who doesn’t al­low fresh­men to speak to the me­dia.

“As long as he does those things and makes good de­ci­sions, we are a pretty good foot­ball team be­cause we can com­ple­ment de­fense, spe­cial teams and of­fense.”

If Holieway could speak with Fromm, he’d pass along sim­i­lar ad­vice.

“Get the ball to your play­mak­ers,” he said, “Just be pre­pared for ev­ery sit­u­a­tion as far as de­fen­sive schemes go, be­cause they’re go­ing to throw a whole lot a things at him be­ing a true fresh­man. They’re go­ing to try to ruf­fle his feathers. If he has poise and con­fi­dence in his team, the team is go­ing to rally around him.”

Oh, and one other thing: “Al­ways give credit to your of­fen­sive line­men,” Holieway added. “With­out the line­men, we ain’t noth­ing.”

It’s still a bit of a gam­ble to go with a true fresh­man quar­ter­back, but not like it once was.

Last sea­son, Jalen Hurts just missed out on a na­tional ti­tle in his first sea­son at Alabama .

Dooley ex­pects more and more fresh­men to get a shot at play­ing right away for elite pro­grams.

“They’re get­ting more so­phis­ti­cated with these things,” Dooley said. “When you take a guy with ex­cep­tional qual­i­ties and you add it to the so­phis­ti­ca­tion that they pos­sess (in high school) with these 7-on-7s, the em­pha­sis on quar­ter­back skills and teach­ing in schools, all these other things that are avail­able to them.”

Holieway re­mem­bers win­ning the re­spect of his team­mates — most of them older than him — by what he did on the prac­tice field and dur­ing the week.

The games, in a way, were sec­ondary.

Fromm is fol­low­ing much the same path.

“Ev­ery day I come in early, and Jake’s al­ready in the film room,” se­nior nose tackle John Atkins said.

Holieway hopes to get a chance to meet Fromm.

Maybe even in Jan­uary at the na­tional cham­pi­onship game in At­lanta.

While Holieway is pulling for his alma mater to win it all — Ok­la­homa is ranked No. 5 and com­ing off a huge win over Ok­la­homa State — he wouldn’t mind hav­ing some com­pany in his very ex­clu­sive club.

“Ev­ery record is meant to be bro­ken,” Holieway said. “For me to hold it for 32 years, that’s all right. I wish the best for the young man. You never know. You might not ever get an­other chance to play for a na­tional cham­pi­onship.”

—AP Sports Writer Cliff Brunt in Ok­la­homa City con­trib­uted to this re­port.

KEN WARD / For the Cal­houn Times

Ge­or­gia’s Jake Fromm makes a throw down­field dur­ing last Satur­day’s game vs. South Carolina.

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