SEC Championship Football

Freshman quarterback Jake Fromm celebrates Georgia's convincing 28-7 win over Auburn in the Southeastern Conference championship game on Dec. 2 in Atlanta.

The bitter taste of defeat in the College Football Playoff championship game in January didn’t stay with Jake Fromm all that long.

It didn’t linger into Georgia’s spring drills and it certainly wasn’t there when Fromm, a wide-eyed, 19-year-old who seems wise beyond his years, worked as a camp counselor at the Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux last week.

People react differently to disappointment, which is why Fromm left his in a duck blind back in his hometown of Warner Robins, Georgia.

It took Georgia’s starting quarterback five days to get past a 26-23 overtime loss to Alabama in the championship game, just a week after getting the Bulldogs in position to win their first national title in football since the days of Herschel Walker more than three decades ago.

“It was a super-tough game,” Fromm said of Georgia, which let a 20-7 third-quarter lead slip away against the Crimson Tide. “But I went duck hunting the next weekend and I got over it pretty quick. I was back with my family and I was ready to move on, ready for next season … ready to get going again.

“Hunting and fishing are my escapes from everything,” he said. “Being out on the water or up in the blinds with my granddad and my brothers and my family, it’s awesome. I love it.”

Awesome was a word that could also describe the true freshman season of Fromm, who couldn’t have written a better script in leading Georgia to within one play of the CFP title one week after an epic, double-overtime semifinals win in the Rose Bowl against Oklahoma.

It was a season no one could have seen coming with sophomore Jacob Eason, the son of former NFL quarterback Tony Eason, settled in as Kirby Smart’s starter for the season opener with Appalachian State.

The younger Eason, a five-star recruit and the top-rated quarterback in the nation in 2016, won the job over Fromm in a spring-summer duel. But Eason launched just three passes against Appalachian State before spraining his knee.

By the time Eason was healthy at midseason, Fromm had a stranglehold on the job. He wouldn’t let go and led Georgia to a 13-1 mark, which included its first Southeastern Conference title in 13 years, before the bitter loss to Alabama.

Georgia led by a field goal when Alabama faced a second-and-forever from the Bulldogs’ 41 on the Tide’s second play of overtime. But Tua Tagovaiola’s 41-yard scoring pass to DeVonta Smith ended it in the blink of an eye.

Just like that, Fromm’s dream season was over after throwing for 2,615 yards and 24 touchdowns. He was the SEC freshman of the year in a vote of league coaches and was an ESPN and USA Today Freshman All-American.

But it was clear that he’s not going to let one loss, as devastating as it was, define who he is as a player.

“I watched the game over one time,” he said, noting he didn’t beat himself up over it. “You learn a lot from it. You look at the positives, you look at the negatives — and that’s it. You move on and get ready for the next one.”

In this case, Fromm and the Bulldogs had to move on to spring ball.

“Just like that, it was a new year,” he said of getting back on the field. “You don’t worry about (last year). You have to go in and start over anyway, so you try to be the best player you can and try to make the team the best we can, too.”

There was no hangover, he said, noting his team attacked each day as it came in order to get ready for the next fight.

One big difference for Fromm was Eason wasn’t there, having transferred to Washington shortly after the national championship game.

Early Heisman Trophy talk is heady stuff for Fromm, who knows that he’ll be pushed by freshman Justin Fields, the top quarterback in the nation and No. 2 overall prospect in the 247Sports composite rankings, in fall camp.

At this point, Fromm is more concerned with getting the Bulldogs back in the national championship picture after coming so tantalizingly close six months ago.

“We’re just trying to win one more game,” he said. “We’re trying to do a little bit extra in every little category and just trying to focus on ourselves and play every game as it comes.”

For Georgia, that includes an Oct. 13 date with LSU in Tiger Stadium.

“It’s going to be exciting,” Fromm said. “I’ve heard it’s an incredible place to play and I can't wait to go there and see it for myself. But I don’t believe God is going to put me in a position that’s too big for me.

“At the end of the day, you go there and kind of see it for yourself. You try to take it all in during the game because it’s going to be an exciting atmosphere.”

Personally, Fromm said he hopes to continue to get better every day, much like he did a year ago in Georgia’s magical march to the CFP title game.

“I just went in and tried to keep chopping at the little things,” he said. “I tried to get better week to week and not really worry about the end game, and what was going to happen.

"It was trying to get better every week, and hopefully, I did a little bit.”


Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter, @MicklesAdvocate.