Bill Shanks

Jake Fromm’s ascension to Georgia lineup an old tale revisited

Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm (11) throws a pass toward the sideline during the Bulldogs' opening game against Appalachian State Saturday.
Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm (11) throws a pass toward the sideline during the Bulldogs' opening game against Appalachian State Saturday. jvorhees@macon.com

It’s kind of amazing how it happened. It was like a movie or a legend that you might think could only be fiction.

Who would have ever believed that before 7 p.m. on Saturday that Georgia would have its own Wally Pipp? And who would have ever believed it would be starting quarterback Jacob Eason who might now wear that title.

Eason did nothing right to start the game against Appalachian State. Georgia’s offense sputtered, and whether it was Eason’s fault or the new offensive line’s fault, it didn’t look good. It was a small sample size, but it didn’t look good.

Then, Eason got hurt.

The decision to burn Jake Fromm’s redshirt didn’t take long to make. As Eason was hobbling to the locker room, the former Houston County star was running on the field taking Eason’s spot.

And now, you wonder if Eason will get it back any time soon.

Pipp was the first baseman for the New York Yankees in 1925. He reportedly had a headache and asked out of the lineup. In Pipp’s place, the Yankees started a 22-year-old kid named Lou Gehrig, who then didn’t come out of the lineup for 2,130 straight games.

So, throughout history, if an injury caused a player to miss a game, and then that player was replaced, the name Wally Pipp would be used as a comparison.

Will that now define Georgia’s season?

It didn’t happen immediately, but Fromm didn’t take long to lead Georgia down the field for its first touchdown of the season. Fromm made crisp passes, and unfortunately for Eason, the offense just looked better.

We in Middle Georgia have known Fromm was special. We saw him make spectacular passes the past few years for the Bears. We may have been biased a bit hoping Fromm would play this season, but no one could have predicted this scenario.

The most beautiful play Fromm made was early in the second quarter. Fromm was under pressure but kept his composure and threw up a pass that was caught by Javon Wims for a 34-yard touchdown. It was perhaps the best play we’ve seen by a Georgia quarterback since Aaron Murray graduated.

There was a sidearm pass Fromm made to D’Andre Swift. Then in the third quarter, on a fourth-and-3 play, Fromm completed a 15-yard pass to Wims to put Georgia in position for another score.

Then, when Fromm left late in the game and was replaced by third-stringer Brice Ramsey, Ramsey threw an interception that led to an Appalachian State touchdown.

Fans probably wanted Fromm back in, but he had already shown us enough.

Fromm wasn’t perfect, but he certainly did not look like a freshman. Something tells me Gehrig didn’t look like a rookie 92 years ago when he took over at first base for the Yankees.

No one is comparing Fromm to Gehrig, one of the best baseball players of all-time. But the similarity in the story is certainly there, particularly considering the summer talk about if Fromm would even play or if he was better than Eason all along.

Thankfully, Eason’s injury, at least the early prognosis, is only a sprain of the left knee. That shouldn’t keep him out long. But will Fromm’s solid performance start the conversation? You know, the conversation we’ve been having (even quietly) about when Fromm will take over Georgia’s offense?

Probably so.

Oh, by the way, Georgia’s defense looks pretty good so far. And that Nick Chubb fellow looks to be back. So, maybe any question at quarterback won’t derail this team.

Who knows what Fromm will do the rest of his career or when Eason will return. But a fairytale played out right in front of us Saturday, as Georgia’s offense woke up with Fromm in charge. And it’s something most Georgia fans will never forget.

Now, head coach Kirby Smart, about next week…

Listen to "The Bill Shanks Show" from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on "Middle Georgia’s ESPN" – 93.1 FM in Macon and 99.5 FM in Warner Robins. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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