April has brought some great things to Atlanta this year so far. The Hawks are in the NBA playoffs for the 10th consecutive year, the Braves started a new era at SunTrust Park and in just a few short days, we get to watch a new quarterback battle at the University of Georgia.
This time of year means spring football and there are a lot of questions surrounding UGA and who will take the snaps come Week 1 of the regular season. Jacob Eason was highly touted entering last season due to the caliber of his recruitment. Now, a year later, the same thing is happening with Jake Fromm, a five-star QB out of Houston County.
The new comer enrolled early — just like Eason last year — to get a head start on the playbook and begin closing the gap on Eason. This coming Saturday, we will get to see what kind of competition there really is.
The real question here isn’t who will be the starting QB for the Dawgs, it’s why is there talk of a competition at all.
We all remember the few subpar performances the then-freshman had. But something that most people overlook is the season as a whole. If you compare Eason’s numbers against some of the recent greats to have played between the hedges as freshmen, they aren’t far off.
Eason threw for 2,430 yards with 16 touchdowns and had eight interceptions. In 2001, David Greene went for 2,789 with 17 TDs and nine TDs while in 2006 Matt Stafford, who is still slinging passes in Detroit, went for an astounding 1,749 yards with seven TDs and 13 INTs. It should also be noted that both Greene and Stafford improved their numbers tremendously in their sophomore campaign; something Eason should have all the opportunity to do himself.
If given that opportunity, behind a better offensive line, a more seasoned receiving corps and a year of experience under his belt, Eason will be the quarterback that he was expected to be. He showed glimpses of greatness with his arm and vision. The 50-yard touchdown pass to Riley Ridley with 19 seconds left on the clock against Tennessee showed veteran poise from a young QB. If not for the crazy events that followed, that one play would be looked at as defining for Eason. Instead, because of a glaring loss, it is forgotten.
It is understandable that head coach Kirby Smart wants to have the best chance to win. That’s the job, to win.
A kid like Fromm comes in with a lot of upside and could legitimately challenge for the No. 1 spot. What looks to be the more likely reason is to fuel Eason to reach his full potential. Competition is the fastest way to keep positions producing at a high level. If you constantly think the guy behind you is going to overtake, you push harder to widen the gap.
The deciding factor will be whether or not the gap will widen or narrow. With decent numbers as a freshman, the sky is the limit for Eason. Given the chance to take the 2017 team by the reins, the sophomore chapter could be one that brings the Dawgs a step closer to an SEC championship.