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Why Jake Fromm is reminded of Houston County ahead of his sophomore season at Georgia

Who will be Georgia’s starting quarterback? Smart answers. (Sort of)

Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart answers reporters' questions Monday, Aug. 27, 2018, including who will be Georgia's starting quarterback.
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Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart answers reporters' questions Monday, Aug. 27, 2018, including who will be Georgia's starting quarterback.

Friday nights clad in black-and-silver were special moments for Jake Fromm. As a high school gunslinger at Houston County High, the occasions of deep passes through the dazzling lights became frequent.

It had been nearly two years since the midstate star quarterback exited Freedom Field for the last time. But when Fromm was in 7-on-7 drills with his Georgia teammates during the spring and summer, it felt like he was back on the Warner Robins turf once again.

There weren’t Bulldog coaches around to lead instruction. Instead, he had control himself.

“There were a couple of moments in my head where it felt like high school,” Fromm said. “It was back where I knew what the defense would run before they ran it. I knew who needed to be where. The game started to feel slower for me then, and it has gotten slower-and-slower since.

Fromm’s freshman emergence was well-documented as he was only a backup quarterback for a few minutes, then was given the reins of an eventual SEC champion. His first call to action wasn’t one without something at stake.

In fact, it was a Georgia team that had its best opportunity for a national title since the 1980s. From the a road test against Notre Dame to the thrilling finish at the Rose Bowl to clinch a title game berth, if the situation was big, Fromm was given the responsibilities.

Despite only one completed college season, the compilation of whirlwind games has readied Fromm to lead the Bulldogs.

“You can’t even imagine from this time last year to now,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “That’s just a lot of games. His understanding of what we’re trying to do offensively. He understands where the weakness is in each defense and he can exploit that.”

Fromm was Georgia’s offensive leader last season while having to gain knowledge on the fly. In 15 games, it didn’t seem as if Fromm was a freshman.

He was once the big-grinning guy after Georgia’s SEC Championship win over Auburn who had gotten his first taste of postseason football. Now, he is seasoned for more.

“He is in the best physical shape of his life,” said Von Lassiter, Fromm’s former head coach at Houston County who has since made the move to Bleckley County. “His experience paired with a great offseason will help him have an unbelievable season.”

Lassiter’s words are bold, yet Fromm’s teammates notice the truth in them. In Monday’s practice viewing period, Fromm threw to a group of first-team receivers, including Riley Ridley and Demetris Robertson. After a pass was hauled in, Fromm was walking around with a sense of confidence, control and swagger as he yelled advice to his teammates.

After a bullet pass went through Robertson’s hands, his quarterback was constructive.

“Agh, you have to bring that in, man,” Fromm said.

Fromm demonstrates readiness to be a leader as he will take command in team meeting rooms and be strong in the huddle. But Smart didn’t name him the starter for Saturday’s season opener against Austin Peay.

He has practiced with the first-team offense throughout the preseason, but a position depth chart isn’t present because of the team’s mantra, according to Smart: “There’s no plan, (not) this is what’s going to happen (or) this is when he’s going to play. We’re not into that. We’re going to kind of see how the game goes.”

Georgia’s quarterback competition exists because former five-star Justin Fields is also vying for playing time and will not use a redshirt season. Meanwhile, Fromm’s teammates are elated to see his development.

“He’s got more confidence than anyone I’ve seen at the quarterback position,” offensive guard Ben Cleveland said.

Added wide receiver Tyler Simmons: “He is the (former Georgia inside linebacker) Roquan (Smith) of the defense. That’s how I look at it.”

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