Alabama vs. Georgia: Why QB Jake Fromm will be the X-factor to a Bulldogs win

ATLANTA -- Jake Fromm was not supposed to be here. Not this year. Not for this team. Not in this position.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart convinced backup quarterback Brice Ramsey to stick around this year after he flirted with the idea of transferring specifically to be the "2A" quarterback behind starter Jacob Eason. Ramsey was supposed to be the guy who got mop-up duty as Fromm redshirted. Fromm was supposed to be "2B;" the guy who came in and only had his redshirt burned in case of a long-term injury to Eason.

It just so happened that Georgia had to burn it and put Fromm in during the first quarter of the first game of the season, a 31-10 win over Appalachian State.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Fromm finished off that season-opener against Appalachian State, posted a 12-1 record as a starter that included an SEC Championship Game win over Auburn in a College Football Playoff play-in game and a dramatic 54-48 win over Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl national semifinal.

Don't be fooled by his age; Fromm is wise beyond his years. He proved it against the Sooners and is the X-Factor for the Bulldogs in the CFP National Championship on Monday night against Alabama in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

"I think he's a phenomenal guy, first-class guy," Bulldogs linebacker Roquan Smith said. "When he first got here, prior to him even being the starter, the way he carried himself was like a senior or something like that. It was pretty good, and just seeing what the guy has done is like -- hasn't surprised me one bit."

Like a senior. Like a veteran. That's exactly what he looked like when he calmly led Georgia down the field during the final minutes of regulation against Oklahoma. That drive included an incredible scramble and toss to running back Sony Michel for a first down and another clutch third-down, 16-yard pass to Terry Godwin to get the Bulldogs to the 7-yard line. 

He finished the game 20-for-29 with two touchdowns, zero interceptions and one ticket to the title game. 

This isn't a young man who gets blinded by the moment -- he thrives in it. Just as he did in his first career start at Notre Dame, when he led the Bulldogs to a 20-19 win against a strong Fighting Irish defense. That game included this highlight-reel touchdown to Godwin where Fromm put it in a place where only the Bulldogs' junior wide receiver could get it. 

Yes, the catch was unbelievable. We all saw it. But so was the ball-placement, which was solely on the true freshman in his first career start.

The truth is that he's been doing that all year. Back shoulder fades, deep out routes across the field, timing routes over the middle -- Fromm does it all. More importantly, he does it with poise and consistency of a veteran.

Don't fall into the trap of thinking that, since Fromm is a true freshman, he can't handle the stage and spotlight of the national title game. That's just factually inaccurate. He literally handled as big of a stage as you could possibly script on Monday night in the shadow of the Hollywood sign.

That, coupled with his entire body of work this season, should be enough to prove that he's ready.

He was the second-most efficient passer among Power Five quarterbacks who took a minimum of 200 snaps, according to the Pro Football Focus adjusted passer rating metric.

PlayerSchoolPFF passer rating

Baker Mayfield

Oklahoma

134.3

Jake Fromm

Georgia

109.8

Mason Rudolph

Oklahoma State

109.1

Justin Herbert

Oregon

108.3

John Wolford

Wake Forest

107.4

As long as Fromm continues to do what he's done all season, Georgia will be fine. No moment has been too big for him yet, and the bigger the moment this season, the better he has played.

He'll have another chance to prove his doubters wrong Monday night on the game's biggest stage.

Not bad for a guy who was supposed to be hanging out on the sideline.

College Football Writer

Barrett Sallee has been a member of the sports media in various aspects since 2001. He is currently a college football writer for CBS Sports, analyst for CBS Sports HQ and host for the SiriusXM college... Full Bio

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