LOS ANGELES — Kirby Smart was not Nick Saban’s only loss when his longtime assistant accepted the Georgia head coaching job. He also lost a major quarterback commitment for Alabama’s next recruiting class.
Jake Fromm had been a longtime pledge to the Crimson Tide by the time Smart arrived in Athens the second week of December in 2015. By March, Fromm flipped on Alabama and committed to Georgia.
Since then, Fromm has become a legendary figure to the Bulldog faithful and he’ll start against Alabama when they meet in the College Football Playoff championship game on Monday at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“We thought he was a fantastic player,” Saban said on a teleconference call for the last two teams standing Tuesday afternoon. “Very instinctive, very smart, makes great choices and decisions, always puts his team in the best play they can be in. I think he does a lot ‘check-with-mes,’ which for a freshman quarterback probably demonstrates his knowledge of the game and preparation and intelligence. You know, he’s always been a fantastic passer and remains that way.”
Fromm played big for the No. 3 Bulldogs (13-1) on Monday as they came from behind to defeated No. 2 Oklahoma 54-48 in two overtimes. He was 20-of-29 passing for 210 yards and two touchdowns and completed a key 16-yard pass on third-and-long late in the fourth quarter that set up the game-tying TD and sent the game into overtime.
Now Fromm will have to go against Alabama and it’s top-ranked defense. But Saban says he has no hard feelings toward Smart or Fromm that it turned out the way it did.
“We thought he was a great player. We had him in camp and we were excited to have him be part of our program,” Saban said. “But we understood when Kirby went to Georgia that Kirby was recruiting him and there was a chance of that happening.”
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