Last offseason, all the talk down in Athens was centered around the arrival of 5-star quarterback Jacob Eason. The Lake Stevens, WA was received by many as the man who would revive the struggling Georgia Bulldogs’ passing game. In 2016, Eason had his fair share of ups and downs.
Early on last season, Eason split time with Grayson Lambert as the main man under center for the Bulldogs. The strong arm signal caller would eventually take full control of the job and never looked back as he threw for 2,430 yards, 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions while leading Georgia to a 8-5 record, which included a Liberty Bowl win over the TCU Horned Frogs.
Although, Eason showed tremendous promise last year, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has made it known that his starting spot isn’t guaranteed.
Smart wants the 18 returning starters on offense and defense to feel the heat of competition this spring, including Eason. The second-year coach doesn’t want Eason to get complacent. According to Smart, incoming freshman quarterback Jake Fromm has a legitimate shot to displace Eason as the Bulldogs’ starter.
“He’s coming in, highly regarded, a heralded recruit, but he’s very serious, very professional about his work. He’s a great leader in the locker room,” Smart told Yahoo about Fromm. “A lot of guys in the locker room respect him, he’s got good arm strength and he’s a good decision maker.”
While Fromm has already made an impression, Smart believes it’s the signal caller’s intangibles that his him off to a good start.
Smart has raved about Fromm’s leadership qualities. The young quarterback isn’t afraid to jump into the huddle and direct his teammates to line up, what to do and be competitive.
Fromm has not only benefited by arriving early on campus, but the offensive scheme he ran in high school gives him another asset to help him push Eason. The system that Fromm ran at Houston County High School (in Georgia) has traits that may prove transferable to the Bulldogs’ offense. He drew rave reviews for his poise under pressure in that system plus the statistics Fromm produced in that scheme are eye-popping. The 6-foot-2 quarterback threw for 12,817 yards in his four years at Houston County. That was just 260 yards short of former Clemson signal DeShaun Watson’s state record.
Eason’s potential has always left coaches drooling. However, as mentioned, Eason did have his fair share of struggles in 2016. Sometimes, Eason’s reads were late and he would either overthrow or under throw his receivers. Those struggles put him at No. 11 out of 12 in passing efficiency in the SEC at 120.2.
While Eason’s freshman struggles and Fromm impressing early could legitimately create a quarterback battle in Athens, the sophomore should be considered a lock to start with the Bulldogs with the freshman being the backup.
To compare to a pair of former Bulldogs, Fromm is more of an Aaron Murray type quarterback while Eason fits more of the Matthew Stafford mold. Eason possesses more natural talent than Fromm (ESPN considers Eason to be Alabama’s biggest threat in 2017). Eason has phenomenal arm strength. While Fromm might not have the potential to throw the ball 60-plus yards downfield like Eason does, Fromm has intelligence well beyond his years that make this competition closer than most perceive it to be.
The most likely outcome is Eason starting with Fromm being his primary back up. While it would be beneficial and the primary plan to redshirt Fromm, Smart and the Bulldogs might not be able to because of the lack of quarterback depth.
In the large scheme of things, this is a perfect situation for Georgia. Competition is supposed to bring the best out of players. By praising Fromm, Smart maybe able to get Eason to reach his colossal potential. But one thing is for sure, Georgia’s quarterback play should be exceedingly better in 2017.