When Jamie Newman announced he was coming to Georgia as a graduate transfer, it seemed like it happened almost overnight. But according to coach Kirby Smart, it was a transaction that was weeks in the making and, obviously, very much dependent on whether quarterback Jake Fromm would decide to turn pro.
Smart discussed the Bulldogs’ acquisition of the former Wake Forest quarterback when he met with reporters Wednesday for the first time since the Sugar Bowl.
“We had researched the entire year with a thought that Jake would have the opportunity to come out early,” Smart said. “So, we had a pool of 30 to 40 of guys that we thought would be – whether they were transfers or whether they were grad transfers, whatever they may be -- possibly be in the quarterback market.”
Smart said that pool actually included other high school quarterbacks. Alas, Georgia signed only Carson Beck, a 4-star prospect from Jacksonville, who enrolled early and actually participated in a few bowl practices. The Bulldogs also brought in at least two quarterbacks as preferred walk-ons – Jackson Muschamp, son of South Carolina coach and UGA alum Will Muschamp, and Austin Kirksey, a transfer from Nevada.
Georgia already had junior Stetson Bennett and redshirt freshman D’Wan Mathis on scholarship, as well as walk-on Nathan Priestley.
What the Bulldogs didn’t have, in the wake of Fromm’s abrupt departure, was an experienced option at the position. That’s why they looked to the always vibrant graduate-transfer market.
Among the possibilities there were Anthony Brown of Boston College, K.J. Costello of Stanford and D’Eriq King of Houston.
But when it was time to finally make a move, Georgia offered only Newman. Most agree that the 6-foot-4, 230-pound athlete from Graham, N.C., clearly was the best of the lot. He’ll be the prohibitive starter for the 2020 season.
“Once Jamie went into the portal and we knew he was going to be a graduate transfer, we started communication immediately,” Smart said. “It was a process of finding out whether what he wanted aligned with what we wanted, and also waiting to see what Jake was going to do.”
Newman appears to be a perfect fit for the offense that is expected to be installed by new offensive coordinator Todd Monken. At Wake Forest, Newman ran one of the purest forms of run-pass option (RPO) offense in college football. He has mobility and a strong body that can handle contact along with a strong arm that deliver the ball anywhere on the field.
However, several other teams recognized Newman’s valuable skill set, so there was no guarantee that Georgia would land him. The Bulldogs had to recruit him, just like they did all those freshmen that made up the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class this year.
Apparently, they did an exceptional job. Fromm announced he was turning pro Jan. 8 and Newman announced he was heading to UGA three days later.
“Jamie has been very mature about the process,” Smart said. “These grad transfers, No. 1 is the fact that they graduated college, the fact he graduated from Wake Forest. These kids understand what they want, and they’re very driven in what they want. They’re really not into the whole recruiting process. So he handled it that way, and was very professional about it.”
Newman was able to immediately enroll at Georgia, which isn’t always possible with graduate transfers. That has allowed him to get into the film room and playbook with Monken, who is considered one of the masters of the “Air Raid” offense. He’s also been able to bond with his teammates.
While it would appear that, his three years of playing experience and mature physical stature would make Newman a shoo-in for the starting job, Smart said Newman will have to win it on the practice field before the Bulldogs open against Virginia in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game Sept. 7 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“We’re looking forward to putting him to work and letting him go out and compete this spring,” Smart said.
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