Jake Fromm already has gone through many firsts as a true freshman.
He had his first career snap against Appalachian State. He had his first start, and also his first road game, at Notre Dame. He played in his first SEC road contest at Tennessee. He threw for 300 yards for the first time against Missouri.
Now comes a very important first: Fromm’s first trip to Jacksonville for the annual Georgia-Florida rivalry game.
By every account Fromm will be ready for it, much like he was prepared in each of the seven games he has appeared in previously.
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“He’s a natural born leader,” running back Sony Michel said. “To him, he’s just playing football. His composure and the way he’s handling himself, you never question the kid for who he is.”
This season, Fromm has completed 62 percent of his passes for 1,162 yards, 12 touchdowns and only three interceptions. But with what rides on the Florida game, this will be the biggest spotlight Fromm has been under to date — including the early-season win over the Fighting Irish.
Georgia hasn’t defeated Florida in four years and has dropped 21 of the past 27 meetings. While the Bulldogs are two-touchdown favorites, the Gators still have plenty of mystique and recent momentum working in their favor.
And as other players described, Fromm is set to experience a pre-game atmosphere unlike any other. Driving over the Hart Bridge to EverBank Field, players will get a first-hand look at all of the tailgaters from both the Georgia and Florida sides. The stadium itself will be divided right down the middle in red and blue.
“As a freshman, going into this game, you really don’t know until you’re there,” tight end Jeb Blazevich said. “At the end of the day, it’s just another field. Any field, anywhere, that’s the kind of team we’re trying to be. We’ll play anybody anytime, anywhere. I think that’s where his head’s at. It’s just another game for him. He’s going to approach it the same way, as if it’s the most important game.”
Fromm, however, probably knows a great deal about the significance of the Georgia-Florida game. Fromm grew up a Georgia fan, with his ultimate dream being to be offered by the Bulldogs. Younger Georgia fans especially have come to value the Florida game much more than perhaps fans from older generations, who still consider Georgia Tech the program’s top rival.
Head coach Kirby Smart will hope he gets another inspired performance from his rookie quarterback Saturday.
“Any time you have a true freshman starting, it’s challenging,” Smart said. “I think this kid has grown. He’s gotten better each week.”
Fromm has impressed his teammates since he arrived to campus and went through spring football. His leadership skills were evident from the first day and that has the Georgia players confident in their quarterback.
Fromm never shied away from wanting to be Georgia’s go-to leader, even as a true freshman. Given the challenge of facing Florida for the first time Saturday, it’s more than likely Fromm will be ready to seize the moment.
“He was like that once he got here,” Michel said. “He wasn’t the starter obviously, but he still was like that. When he got in to take his reps, he took control and was leading the offense. I think that’s why when he stepped in he was ready for it.”