Jake Fromm's ascension as one of Georgia's go-to leaders began long before the 2017 season kicked off.
No, the gradual procession of Fromm's leadership didn't begin when he entered the Appalachian State game. It started when spring practice opened, with the Warner Robins native having been on campus for only a couple of months. It didn’t take long for teammates and coaches to notice that Fromm was a bit different than the usual true freshman quarterback.
For example, there was a play Fromm recalled where he barked an assignment to senior left tackle Isaiah Wynn. Wynn turned around and stared him down, as if the true freshman hadn’t earned the right to speak in that sort of tone with veteran players
But that’s Fromm in a nutshell. A vocal leader since his Houston County days, Fromm realized there was a fine line in getting on his older teammates.
"When you get to college, you have to start from the bottom," Fromm said. "No one cares how many (recruiting) stars you have. You come in and work every day, be consistent. That’s what I think I did. Guys started buying into me. We had fun during the summer workouts and seven-on-sevens, and it took off from there.”
To his teammates’ defense, they honestly didn’t know if Fromm would turn out to be the real deal or not. Sure, he was considered a five-star prospect by the end of his recruitment. But Fromm didn’t have anything resembling a collegiate accolade to show as a first-year early enrollee.
"It’s a little dicey sometimes. Sometimes you’re like, 'Dude, we don’t even know if you’re good yet,' " tight end Jeb Blazevich said. "But the culture we have, if somebody challenges you, you appreciate it."
Fromm was able to earn the respect of his teammates by the time the season was set to start, even if he wasn't in a starting position yet.
Wynn said Fromm does a good job in making sure the offense is performing in practice to his expectations. Now that he has 13 games under his belt, Fromm has more authority over his teammates.
"If a guy’s tempo is low or if a guy’s intensity is low, he’s getting them on the right pace," Wynn said. "If someone runs a wrong route or we miss a protection, he’s always right there to correct us at that moment."
From Fromm’s perspective, this has been a storybook type of season. During Thursday’s news conference at the L.A. Hotel Downtown, Fromm admitted he could have never predicted a scenario such as this playing out in his first season.
Fromm began the season as a backup to Jacob Eason, who started 12 of 13 games a year ago. But on Georgia’s third drive against Appalachian State, Eason sprained his knee and was forced to sit for a few weeks.
Fromm entered the game and established a quick rhythm with his teammates. When Eason was healthy again, the coaching staff decided to stick with Fromm in the starting role. To Eason’s credit, he hasn’t complained or shown frustration about the decision.
And for Fromm, he is thankful he did enough to prepare himself as a starter in the event he was called on.
"If you would have told me the way it was written, I wouldn’t have believed you," Fromm said. "I’m extremely thankful the way it worked out the way it did. I’m going to continue to take it day by day and stay with the process, and hopefully try to win the Rose Bowl."