We begin our preview of every position on the Georgia Bulldog roster with the position often described as the most important on the football field.
There is fierce camp competition across the offense and defense for starting spots in Athens.
Except at quarterback.
Jake Fromm returns for his second season as the clear starter under center. Despite being labeled a “game manager” and while fending off challenges from five star competitors, Fromm has put up fantastic numbers. A few historical markers to consider:
• Fromm’s 5364 career passing yards is 7th all-time in UGA history, 970 yards behind #6 Mike Bobo and 1083 behind fifth place passer Quincy “pass the salt” Carter, and a shade over 2300 yards behind Matt Stafford. While he won’t catch Aaron Murray’s school and SEC record of 13,166 yards, if he stays healthy it’s likely Fromm will join Murray, David Greene, and Eric Zeier among the top four in yardage in Bulldog history.
• Fromm’s yardage total is even more impressive when you consider that he did it while being among the most efficient passers in Bulldog history. Fromm’s 64.87% completion percentage is only a slim fraction of a percent behind Hutson Mason’s 65% mark. Fromm’s 8.98 yards per pass attempt currently places him atop the UGA career list.
• What’s more, Fromm has played some of his best football against the best competition he’s faced: Against Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl (20 of 29 passing for 210 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT), and Alabama in the 2018 SEC Championship Game (25 of 39, 301 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT), for example.
Where does he go from here? Well, during the offseason one of the things Fromm worked on was driving the ball downfield with more power. Fromm’s arm strength is very good. But at times it hasn’t looked first round NFL Draft pick strong.
And that’s really the question for this season. Does Jake Fromm have the kind of season that ends with him being crazy to not declare for the NFL Draft?
Already NFL personnel types are enameled with Fromm’s intangibles. He has an off-the-charts football IQ, and leadership ability that he developed while leading his team to a conference title and national championship game as a true freshman. Jake Fromm has shown he can perform on a big stage.
There’s not a lot for him to do other than win a national title. It will be interesting to see how Fromm handles business when he, and everyone else, knows that’s what’s left to accomplish. If Georgia brings home a title, Fromm may head to the pros with the thanks of a grateful Bulldog Nation.
On the other hand. . . what if Fromm’s season is a disaster? What if the one thing Georgia can ill-afford to have happen, a serious injury to Fromm, comes to pass?
It looks like the ‘Dawgs would mail it in. Or, Mailman it in, more accurately. Redshirt sophomore Stetson Bennett went from walk-on playing Baker Mayfield as part of the 2017 UGA scout team offense to passing for 1840 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2018 at Jones Community College in Mississippi. Bennett left Athens looking for a place where he’d have a chance to earn a scholarship and a starting spot. It turns out he could have just stayed put.
With Justin Fields’ transfer to Ohio State Georgia needed someone who could step in and take the reins if Fromm goes down. They found a guy who already knows the Bulldog offense and much of the personnel, and who was well-liked by teammates. The 5’11, 190 pound Pierce County product doesn’t have the size or arm of Jake Fromm. But he’s a steady presence if needed.
Also intriguing will be the role of true freshman Dwan Mathis. The 6’4, 200 pound Michigan native impressed with his G Day performance. He’s got a live arm and sneaky athleticism that could be a huge asset if he’s used properly.
But Mathis also underwent emergency brain surgery in late May to remove a dangerous cyst. That’s not a high ankle sprain. Mathis is throwing in camp, but when he’ll be fully cleared is unclear. What is clear is that his ability to chase down Bennett for the QB2 spot will depend on exactly when he’s fully cleared. Coach Smart said last week there’s no timetable for Mathis to be cleared for contact.
Behind Mathis will likely be freshman walk on Nathan Priestley. The 6’4, 205 pound Los Angeles native held offers from Colorado State and UNLV before choosing to join the Red and Black instead. He’s already shown some impressive poise this fall, and while we hope we will only see him after Fromm and company have hung half a hundred on opponents, he’s a guy who can play if called upon.