Jake Fromm and Alabama cross paths again

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Here's a game-by-game look at the passing stats of Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm for the 2018 season.

Those who follow the twists and turns, commitments and decommitments, of college-football recruiting knew it was a big deal when Jake Fromm, then a high-school junior, switched his pledge from Alabama to Georgia in March 2016.

But no one could have known just how soon and significantly Fromm’s path would again – and again – intersect with Alabama’s.

On Saturday, for the second time in 11 months, Fromm will quarterback Georgia in a high-stakes game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium against the Crimson Tide. In January, it was for the national championship. This time, it will be for the SEC championship.

So, it’s time for a flashback to that phone call less than three years ago when a 17-year-old Fromm informed Alabama coach Nick Saban of his decision to rescind his commitment to the Crimson Tide.

“We had a very long conversation … anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour,” Fromm recalled this week. “It was a tough one. It was probably one of the hardest things I’d had to do.

“Telling him I was going to come here – I’m sure he probably didn’t like that very much. But it was just a ‘me’ decision and a family decision and something that has worked out for me so far.”

Things have worked out for Alabama, too, of course. Within days of Fromm’s flip, the Crimson Tide offered a scholarship to another quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa. He came off the bench to rally Bama to a 26-23 overtime victory over Georgia in last season’s national championship game, will lead the Tide against the Bulldogs on Saturday and is favored to win the Heisman Trophy.

Fromm passes on the question of how differently things might have turned out for both quarterbacks if not for his decommitment in March 2016.

“I have no idea,” Fromm said. “We’re both here now, playing in this game, so let’s go.”

Remember when Jake Fromm flipped from Alabama to Georgia?

Long story short: Fromm committed to Alabama in October 2015, his junior season at Houston County High, in large part because he didn’t have an offer from the home-state Bulldogs. Kirby Smart, then the Alabama defensive coordinator, whom Fromm had gotten to know during Bama’s recruitment of him, was hired as Georgia’s coach in December 2015. Smart quickly let Fromm know he was wanted at Georgia. Fromm switched his commitment on March 3, 2016, and enrolled at UGA in January 2017, the same month Tagovailoa enrolled at Alabama.

Interesting, albeit moot, question: Would Tagovailoa be at Alabama if Fromm hadn’t flipped to Georgia?

“Honestly, I’m not too sure,” Tagovailoa said this week on a conference call. “I didn’t know that Jake was committed (to Alabama) before I committed. And my father kind of implied that we should come here. I thought it would be easier for us as a family on the West Coast, but it was more so a family decision to come to (Alabama). And it’s one of those things where it’s cultural. It’s what my parents wanted more than what I wanted, you know? And it’s worked out great.”

Fromm and Tagovailoa – quarterbacks from Middle Georgia and Hawaii, respectively -- got to know each other at “Elite 11” quarterback competitions as high school seniors. A strong friendship developed and continues, Fromm said.

As he studies Fromm in preparation for Saturday’s game, Saban sees the growth of the quarterback he first observed at an Alabama football camp.

“Jake does a great job of managing their offense,” Saban said on a conference call. “He’s very accurate, very poised in the way he executes, and he’s got a lot of confidence in the system and scheme and does a good job of helping all the skill players that they have make plays, whether it’s running or throwing.”

Fromm will carry a 23-3 record as Georgia’s starting quarterback into Saturday’s game.

In five games since an Oct. 13 loss at LSU – Georgia’s only loss this season – he has completed 62 of 85 passes, throwing 11 touchdown passes and only one interception during that stretch.

Now he readies for his third game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, following last season’s SEC championship and national championship games, and figures the experience can only help him.

“I know what’s going on. I know the trip to Atlanta. I know what the environment is going to be like,” Fromm said. “It really is cool, having the (stadium’s) big screen up there and the turf and playing in Atlanta. One thing I remember from last year is there are people sitting right behind the benches, right there in the nice seats, which is crazy. You feel like they can hear what you’re saying.”

This is exactly what he had in mind for his college football career.  “Playing in big games ... it’s what you dream of,” he said. The nightmarish ending of last season’s loss to Alabama didn’t change that.

“As far as last year, I really kind of flushed it out of my mind,” Fromm said. “The game happened. I’m ready for a new opportunity to come out and play my best, play our best. And let’s go out and win it.”

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