LOS ANGELES — Jacob Eason spends part of almost every day with Jake Fromm, the kid who took his job.
Plenty of nights, too. The two Georgia quarterbacks are road roommates, including this week at the Rose Bowl, and Eason has been known to snore.
“I’ve woken up to a pillow in my face a couple of times,” Eason said.
Everybody around the Bulldogs realizes that Eason’s relationship with Fromm could be unbearably awkward.
Eason started 12 games for Georgia last season, but he sprained his knee in the first quarter of the Bulldogs’ season opener in September. Fromm stepped in and never let up, becoming a freshman sensation while leading Georgia to its first SEC title in 12 years.
Eason, a five-star recruit just two years ago, has been fully healthy for more than two months. There’s a good chance he’ll never take another snap for Georgia, particularly if he decides to transfer this winter.
“It’s been hard on him, I know it has,” Georgia offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said. “It’s been hurtful. My God, it ain’t without pain when you’re (Eason). That’s hard. But I think he’s going to grow from this. He’s going to come out the back end of whatever happens in the future happens, and he’ll be better for it.”
Indeed, the quarterbacks’ coaches and teammates all say Eason and Fromm have made the best of a brutal situation, and that harmony has helped the Bulldogs (12-1) stay focused throughout their impressive season.
“We’re great friends,” Eason said. “We get along real well. He’s an easy guy to get along with, and I am too in that regard.”
Under Fromm’s steady, unflashy stewardship, Georgia reached the College Football Playoff semifinal against Oklahoma (12-1) on Monday night. He has passed for 2,173 yards with 21 touchdowns and five interceptions — and most important of all, 12 victories.
Eason firmly believes the talent-laden Bulldogs would be in this same position in Pasadena even if he hadn’t heard a pop in his knee while getting hit out of bounds against Appalachian State. He appears to be at peace knowing he’ll never find out for sure.
“I’m so proud of what (Fromm) has done for this team this year,” Eason said Saturday. “I want him to go out there and do the best he can do and win games. I’m a part of this team as well, and I’m always going to root for Jake, no matter what.”
Eason isn’t his team’s starting quarterback for the first time since he broke his arm during his freshman year of high school in suburban Seattle. But he has worked with his replacement in the film room and supported him on the sideline. They study the game plan at night, and the early-rising Fromm also makes sure Eason wakes up in time for team breakfasts.
“Jacob, man, he’s been incredible,” Fromm said. “He’s been with me every step of the way, and we’ve been great friends throughout this.”
But once the season is over, Eason must decide whether to stick it out in Athens or to pursue his NFL dreams at a school where he would be the unquestioned starter.
Chaney said this week that all of Georgia’s quarterbacks will compete for the starting job again during the offseason. But that competition got even more crowded recently when the Bulldogs got a commitment from Justin Fields, the top quarterback in the 2018 recruiting class.
Eason claimed he hasn’t decided whether to leave Georgia, keeping his focus firmly on the Rose Bowl. If he gets a chance to live his dream again as the team’s quarterback in the next two weeks, he wants to be ready.
“I know I fell in love with Georgia and Athens and the coaches and players when I committed,” Eason said. “I’m a firm believer in sticking with your decision, so I did. And it’s paid off.”