Jake Fromm sat front-and-center of a third-grade classroom. All of the students circled around him were like the Georgia quarterback’s offensive line. He read a book to schoolchildren — albeit about high fives — as efficiently as he reads defenses.
Each of the kids stared at Fromm in amazement as he finished reading, then a Georgia spokesperson began quizzing them about the junior’s career. Questions such as Fromm’s yardage total through two-and-a-half seasons left them guessing — most underestimated his success and blurted out 4,000 yards, but it in fact nears 7,000.
Then everyone paused as an Allstate agent and a trophy entered the classroom. He was greeted with the Allstate AFCA Good Works honor for his work in the Athens-Clarke County community. Fromm was surprised Wednesday morning as one of 22 student-athletes to win the award.
“Does he get that because he always gives high fives?” one student said in the midst of the presentation.
Not quite (well, maybe that played a role). He was named to the Good Works Team for being active in community service with Extra Special People — an organization that assists those with special needs’ and their families — and engaging in the yearly Georgia football trip to Camp Sunshine.
Fromm is more than football. He’s a celebrity around these parts aside from his work inside Sanford Stadium, and this book reading venture is a peek into Fromm’s true side.
“This was a huge honor and blessing. For me to come and be able to receive this, it’s huge,” said Fromm, who often references his faith as a motivation. “It says a lot about my family, how they raised me and how I can serve people.”
He posed with all of the students and his new trophy for photos, then an autograph line formed. The classroom was provided team-branded posters for Fromm to sign, but some students brought their own material. One boy brought a baseball, and Fromm looked at it before saying “Do you know how long it has been since I have signed a baseball?,” a reference to his Houston County playing days.
Another child wore a No. 1 Bulldog jersey, Fromm signed it and then the next in line asked for her shirt to be signed. Fromm replied, “I promise you your momma wouldn’t be happy with that.” To top off all of the fun requests, one girl asked enthusiastically, “Can you sign my forehead?”
These are the moments Fromm cherishes. He’s had a passion for community-service work since his middle school days in Warner Robins, and doesn’t plan on stopping as his career progresses. He volunteers outside of planned events, too, such as reading to elementary school students regularly.
“I had an unbelievable connection with the special needs’ kids (in middle school). It was awesome to hangout with them,” Fromm said. “They took to me and I took to them. I loved every minute of it, and I love to carry that into college.”
At each event with ESP, Fromm’s love for those with special needs is able to shine. He hosted the Big Hearts event this past February, and it’s a chance for participants to show their talents on the big Classic Center stage. Fromm, who has a stage of his own during the football season, enjoys being behind-the-scenes and interacting with children before they make an appearance.
Fromm becomes familiar with a number of disabilities as ESP includes those with down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida and many more. Georgia football plans to host them Thursday for a Bulldogs and Buddies event in which ESP members watch football practice.
“There are so many of them, but each has a distinct personality,” Fromm said. “That makes them awesome, and I love those intimate conversations.”
One of Fromm’s favorite memories is with a boy named Nick. He’s short, but he’s strong. Nick thought he could match up with the Bulldogs’ quarterback. A push-up contest it was, and the little guy was victorious.
“I couldn’t keep up with him,” Fromm said. “He’s too strong and kept chugging along.”
As Fromm’s career continues, he will continue to be presented with opportunities. Each venture will be greeted with “let’s go and attack it,” he said. He desires to represent himself, his family and university positively.
This is his true side, and Fromm attacks it with as much passion as running an offense.
“That’s what I want to do in this life and do it the best I can,” Fromm said.