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Jake Fromm's former coaches, teachers reminisce about his high school days

Jake Fromm's locker and jersey went unused this season, head coach Ryan Crawford says he's saving the number 11 for someone who can live up to the standard that Fromm set/(Cam Gaskins, WGXA)

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. -- The entire country has been exposed to Jake Fromm this college football season, as the true freshman quarterback has led the Georgia Bulldogs to a national championship appearance against Alabama.

While the rest of the country has been praising the Warner Robins native for his on-field skills and leadership, his coaches and teachers from Houston County High School, Fromm's alma mater, are no longer surprised by the accomplishments he's garnered this season. They've been expecting it for years now.

"We kind of knew, I say 'we' as the community, knew about Jake before he even got to high school," Crawford said. "Whatever moment, he was always able to handle that... back then you could tell there was something about him. He was 14 years old, playing with a lot of 17, 18 year old guys, and it didn't really bother him."

College coaches quickly began to take notice. Crawford says that Fromm was being recruited as early as his freshman year. Originally committed to Alabama, Fromm changed his commitment and signed his letter of intent with the University of Georgia. The reason why was pretty simple.

"Coach Smart," Crawford said. "I think Kirby was kind of the reason he was going to Alabama in the first place. They showed the most interest in him. Georgia, at the time, hadn't shown any interest in him...but Jake always wanted to go to Georgia."

Fromm now wears No. 11 under center for the Bulldogs, the same number he wore for the Bears at Houston County. He's only been gone for one year, but his jersey and locker went unused this season. Coach Crawford says that decision was intentional.

"We don't have anyone in that number right now," Crawford said. "That may be the case as long as I'm standing here, because I feel like you have to prove that you can wear his number. That's how special he is to me, this program, this school, and these teachers."

Fromm's athletic prowess and leadership extended far beyond the gridiron, he also played baseball at Houston County through his junior year. He was a key player in the state championsip-winning team from 2016. Pitching coach Matt Hopkins says that Fromm almost skipped out on that year to focus on football.

"A few days into it, he decided, 'I can't not play baseball,'" Hopkins said. "And I don't think it can be expressed what his leadership brought to that team, we needed his leadership to really gel the team and win a championship."

While Fromm spent three years balancing football and baseball in high school, he also spent three and a half years balancing sports and academics. He had no trouble handling either, according to his freshman algebra and geometry teacher, Jamie Stewart.

"A lot of times, even in the ninth grade, he had recruiters coming in," Stewart said. "They would always pull him out of my class, maybe because he was so good at math. But he never missed a beat, he was always on top of everything."

One thing that teachers and coaches can agree on when it comes to Jake; he loved to joke around, but always knew when it was time to get serious and get down to work.

"He was always a goofball," Stewart said. "But it was never distracting. He had a pretty good judgment of when it was time to play and when it was time to work."

Lauren Nguyen taught Fromm in US History and was also his academic advisor. She oversaw his class schedule as he attempted to graduate early so he could enroll early at UGA. While balancing a full class load with the schedule of being a student athlete might be daunting, Nguyen says Fromm was never fazed by his busy workload.

"I think it was really great how easy-going he was about all of that," Nguyen said. "You would have never guessed just by looking at him or having a conversation with him just how much pressure he was under all the time. It was very easy to forget that he was a high school student."

Now, it's easy to forget that Fromm is still just a true freshman quarterback who's led the Georgia Bulldogs to a place they haven't been since 1980: a national championship game.

It's safe to say that regardless of the outcome of Monday night's College Footall Playoff National Championship game, the entire Houston County community will still be justifiably proud of their No. 11.



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