An open letter to Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm

Jake Fromm may have played his last game as a Bulldog, but he’ll forever be a part of this program and dear to the fans.

To Jake Fromm:

From the moment you stepped foot on campus at Georgia, you were the topic of conversation. The homegrown quarterback with exciting high school stats that turned down an offer from Alabama to become one of Kirby Smart‘s first recruits as Georgia’s head coach.

Actually, the talk started a few weeks before your first day on campus as a Bulldog with the Christmas recruitment videos. From the red suit and fake beard to the confident assurance that you would beat Florida two years in a row, you instantly won over Georgia fans.

Then, you stepped foot on the field at Sanford Stadium and won the spring game. Speculation began to swirl about you possibly beating out incumbent Jacob Eason for the starting job. So many fans were hoping for you, the Georgia native, to start over the guy from Washington that I actually felt sorry for Eason. But, as you know now, internet fans are fickle.

You didn’t listen to any of it, but just put your head down and went to work. Then came that fateful day in September 2017. After just three pass attempts, Eason left the opening game of the season against Appalachian State with an injury, and thousands of Georgia fans, myself included, thought, “Well, there goes our season.” But, you didn’t worry. You just nodded, confidently put your helmet on, took the field, and led the team to victory.

The future instantly looked brighter, but you still had a rough road ahead. You then went into South Bend and won against mighty Notre Dame, giving Terry Godwin one of the most unforgettable touchdown catches in UGA history. You took on Mississippi State and delivered a perfect flea flicker and another win. And then you went into Neyland Stadium (a place where more than one Bulldog has seen a season end with catastrophic injury) and came out unscathed against the Vols.

After the beatdown of the Gators in the Cocktail Party, we knew you and that team were special and we couldn’t wait to see what you guys did next.

You helped lead the Bulldogs to their first SEC Championship since 2005. You helped lead an epic second-half comeback over Oklahoma in a Rose Bowl Game for the ages. You took Georgia one play away from its first national title since 1980. No one blamed you for the loss. Your only regret was that you couldn’t win it for the seniors, and we loved you for that.

But then the narrative changed, and sometime between January 8, 2018, and the spring game, you went from being the golden boy to a quarterback that many thought should be replaced with the newest freshman on campus, Justin Fields.

In a game that echoed the matchup the year before, the freshman won the spring game. Only this time you were the experienced returner. Rumors swirled about who would win the starting job. Many fans wanted and expected Coach Smart to start a true freshman over you, the guy who just lead the team to a national championship berth. The hometown hero who everyone was praising less than a year before.

As the season started and you began to struggle, the whispers and criticisms grew until they became a roar after the loss to LSU.

Just average. Not enough arm strength. A game manager.

But not everyone believed that. Some of us had seen the confusion on your face the first time you were taken out of a game and Justin Fields was put in. We saw your confidence and celebrations ever so slowly disappear as the season went on, and we missed the guy that would be singing “Homegrown” on the sidelines.

And then came that amazing game against Florida. You’ll never know, but there was a family in Florida praying for you the two weeks leading up to the game. Whether it was you just working extra hard to shut out the noise, the long talks with your mom, or a little 5-year-old girl telling you she thought you were great, that game was one of your best performances and we knew it would be the moment you walked on the field, head bouncing to the music during warmups.

You kept your promise from the recruitment video and won two straight in Jacksonville. You went on to sweep the East again and lead Georgia to another SEC Championship game. Despite the loss to Alabama, many analysts said you deserved to be the game MVP, passing for over 300 yards and three touchdowns.

You ignored the doubters and rose above their criticism. Fields transferred to Ohio State and it looked like you might get a fresh start. But a new offensive coordinator, the loss of five of your starting receivers, and an offense plagued by injuries led to a season filled with offensive miscues as the team struggled to win games.

The majority of the blame wrongly fell on you as Fields succeed week after week, with many fans saying we kept the wrong quarterback. Whether it was the offensive struggles or the constant criticism outside the program, your confidence slipped and you struggled. Many people doubted you could do it. But you kept pushing on, consistently making adjustments at the line and putting the team in a place to win.

You walked into Neyland a second time and came out undefeated. Not many Georgia quarterbacks can say that, which is why we all loved hearing you sing “Rocky Top” when you left your postgame interview.

You didn’t get your first SEC loss until your junior year and defeated Florida for the third year in a row. You became the first UGA quarterback to win the SEC East three years in a row–something no team had done since Spurrier was the coach at Florida. You have a 35-7 record as a starter and the highest completion percentage in Georgia history. Yet the hate unexplainably raged on.

Average. Not enough arm strength. A game manager who can’t win the big games.

The internet is fickle. But tried and true Georgia fans are not. You’ll probably never know it, but they got tired of all the hate and abuse directed your way and started fighting back. People said you only won the Rose Bowl because of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. We reminded them of your 210 passing yards, your clutch passes that kept the game alive, and your game-winning block on Michel’s final touchdown.

They said you were inconsistent. We reminded them of your beautiful back-shoulder throws and key adjustments at the line of scrimmage. They said you couldn’t throw. We reminded them of your bomb to Mecole Hardman in the national championship and the strike to Terry Godwin against Vandy.

Fans can be fickle. But, there’s a lot of Georgia fans who don’t make their opinions known in every corner of the internet. Those fans know that you won the Little League World Series and have a helmet signed by Hershel Walker that you begged your grandfather for as a kid.

We know that you love country music and enjoy singing rap songs to country tunes to aggravate your teammates. We know that your excitement is unmatched and that you love running around and yelling during practice, with your unmistakable “whoo!” making it into many videos. We teared up watching Coach Smart congratulate you after this year’s Florida game because we knew the overwhelming criticism you had faced.

We remember. We know you’re special. We know that you’re the only Georgia quarterback to play in three elite bowl games. We know that you’re only one of three UGA quarterbacks to pass for 2,500 yards or more in three consecutive seasons. The other two? Fan favorites David Greene and Aaron Murray.

The fanbase has been oddly split on your role as quarterback through no fault of your own. While you’ll probably never see it, a lot of us had your back. We’ve been ridiculed, name-called, and mocked. But, we ignored it, stayed true to our beliefs, and rose above— just like the quarterback we were fighting for.

Because that’s the thing about you. We don’t just love you for what you’ve accomplished on the field, but for all of the good you’ve done off the field. Despite all of the hate, you’ve always represented UGA and Dawgnation with poise and grace.

You’re a selfless teammate, quick to shoulder the blame and just as quick to share praise. You’re one of the first to celebrate when your teammates succeed and one of the first to encourage them and pick them up when they fall. You patiently answer each difficult question and you graciously take the time for a picture with fans after a game.

We love you not only for your passion for football but for your equal passion for sharing your light with others. Whether taking the time to FaceTime someone who’s going into surgery or simply spending a day with some amazing kids, you spread joy wherever you go.

We appreciate your gentleness with your youngest fans, as you patiently took a picture with a little five-year-old girl who cried because she was so excited to meet you. And we will always remember your smile and kindness the next year when you walked over and thanked the same little girl for the card she made you and encouraged her in her belief that she was your good luck charm.

That’s why we love Jake Fromm. You’re a great player and an even greater person. That’s what made this 2020 Sugar Bowl win over Baylor all the more meaningful. We were finally able to see again the guy who absolutely loves playing with his teammates.

We saw him once again having fun, carrying himself with confidence and a little bit of swagger. He’d slowly disappeared under the weight of hate and disdain unfairly heaped upon him. We missed you and we were so happy to see you enjoying the game you love.

Now, it’s time for you to make a decision. I’m not going to lie. We really hope you come back to Georgia for your senior year. You’re a special player and I can’t think of another Georgia quarterback that deserves a national championship more than you. You’ve given a lot to this program and this team.

The future looks so bright. The defense is playing lights out and the offense is slowly coming into its own. I think next year could be special. You coming back for your senior year could have the same effect that Chubb and Michel did coming back for theirs. I think with you leading the team, we could win it all. But without you at the helm, the future seems less certain. It’s still promising, but not near as bright and tangible.

I really hope you stay, but I don’t blame you if you leave. One of my dreams is to see Georgia win a national championship. Like you, I wasn’t alive in 1980. But, your dream is to play in the NFL. And I don’t blame you for chasing after your dream, especially after all of the hate and criticism you’ve had to navigate during your time at Georgia.

I just hope you know one thing. That for every hateful tweet or comment, there is a quiet Georgia fan who admired and never once doubted Jake Fromm. You might not see them, but they’re there, and proud of how you persevered and kept chopping.

So whatever you decide, and wherever you go, I hope you know that there will always be a family in Florida cheering you on. You’re a Damn Good Dawg.

Fromm,

A Diehard Dawg
and A Huge Jake Fromm Fan

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