The story behind how Alabama landed one of Southeast’s top quarterbacks
Jake Fromm knew what he was getting into the minute he stepped foot onto Alabama’s campus this past weekend.
Within 10 minutes of arriving, he and his father, Emerson, made their way up to coach Nick Saban’s office, where championship rings rested on a nearby coffee table like coasters and reminders of Alabama lore cover the walls like drapes.
Saban’s office is as old school as his approach to loyalty — We don’t want you if you don’t want to be here. And who knew Fromm would be here, either. Strangely enough, If it were up to the connections he made along the way, his father admits Jake would be at Ole Miss.
Instead, he’s five feet away from one of the most-winningest head coaches in college football history about to make arguably the biggest decision of his life to date.
“I kind of felt a tug at my heart and I said, ‘Hey, coach, I want to commit to Alabama,’” Fromm said.
The conversation lasted all but five minutes, and Fromm, his father and Saban continued on a 30-minute chat about strategy and management. In turn, the 4-star quarterback from Houston County High School (Ga.) gave Alabama its eighth commitment in the class of 2017 and the first signal-caller overall. He chose the Crimson Tide over Ole Miss and South Carolina.
“Winning and being successful, that’s something I thought I could do at Alabama,” Fromm said.
A bit of a history buff himself, Fromm knows of the successes AJ McCarron and Greg McElroy had during their storied careers with the Crimson Tide — the multiple championships and signature moments. They, too, wanted to be led by Saban.
“If your interest and goal is to play football — and I think Jake decided his goal was to play football — Alabama is the best place to be,” his father, Emerson, told the AJC’s SEC Country.
According to the elder Fromm, it all began about a year ago when his son was on Saban’s radar but hadn’t reeled in an offer. He spoke with Saban in his office, where topics ranged from the evaluation process to fishing. And then Alabama’s head coach laid out a plan for his son — one he never wavered from.
“He’s probably made ten promises to me and he’s never broken one,” Fromm’s father said.
But while Saban has kept several promises, Fromm’s father admits he doesn’t have much of a personal connection him. He can reach Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze in 15 minutes, but Saban, on the other hand, isn’t always available.
“You want to connect with the guy, but he’s all football,” Fromm’s father said. “He never turns the switch off.”
But it works. Saban has created a standard of excellence, and Fromm and his father understand all that comes with being an Alabama football player.
“At the end of the day, if your kid never plays you can’t say it was a bad day going to Alabama,” Fromm’s father said. “Some kids aren’t good enough. You live with it.”
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior appears to be a good fit, too. Fromm said he’ll transition nicely under offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin’s direction. Alabama employs pro-style concepts and a few run-pass combinations that Fromm currently executes at Houston County.
“Coach Kiffin is a great play-caller,” Fromm said. “He’s a great offensive mind. With him and coach Saban together, they have a real good offensive scheme.”
And while Fromm is looking to develop more chemistry with Saban and Kiffin, it appears he already has some with Alabama quarterback Jake Coker. The two share the same quarterback coach, David Morris. Fromm met Coker over the spring at QB Country, a training company in Alabama, and the two have crossed paths a few times since.
“It’s a great feeling to know where you’re at versus the starting Alabama quarterback,” Fromm said. “Coker, he’s a great player and I have a lot of work to do before I get up to his level.”
Ultimately, Fromm and his father felt Alabama was the best fit. They were most comfortable with the program’s ability to keep their quarterback upright. Fromm’s father alluded to the hits Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly and South Carolina’s Lorenzo Nunez have endured so far this season. And though they loved South Carolina’s staff, Fromm’s father said he wasn’t confident they would be around in the long run.
And now, on the heels of Fromm’s decision, there is no going back.
“There is no reevaluation,” Fromm’s father said. “This is 100 percent. I’m not going to get into a situation with Coach Saban that we’re taking official visits somewhere else to make sure. That’s not going to go down real well and we’re not going to do it.”
Fromm is rated as the No. 24 player in Georgia in the class of 2017.