Jake Fromm’s declaration for the NFL draft on Jan. 8 left Georgia football scrambling to replace him.
The third-year starter was the lone certainty amid a whirlwind of questions surrounding the program offensively. Positions need to be refilled across the board due to the loss of running backs D’Andre Swift and Brian Herrien and departures of key offensive linemen Andrew Thomas, Isaiah Wilson, Solomon Kindley and Cade Mays. Turnover at tight end and wide receiver has been addressed in the offseason as well.
But first, Georgia needs to find a leader to guide its offense, and here are four names in the contest:
Following Fromm’s departure, there wasn’t an obvious leader left behind in the quarterback room.
Georgia’s next move was to reach into the transfer portal, and it landed Newman, a graduate transfer from Wake Forest. Newman’s graduate status makes him immediately eligible to play, and he’s the most likely pick for the starting job in spring practice.
Newman is a true dual threat quarterback with physicality, taking 245 rushing attempts for 826 yards in addition to going 306-for-506 for 3,959 yards throughout his time with the Demon Deacons. In his 16 starts across two seasons at Wake Forest, Newman went 10-6. He has size on his side as well, standing at 6-foot-4 and weighing 230 pounds.
Newman impressed in his final season at Wake Forest, leading Wake Forest to an 8-4 record and a New Era Pinstripe Bowl berth. He completed 220 of his 361 passes — 60.9% — for 2,868 yards, 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also added production on the ground, rushing for 574 yards and six touchdowns in 2019.
Former Georgia head coach and current ACC Network analyst Mark Richt tweeted lofty praise of Newman following the news of his transfer to Georgia.
“I have been watching Jamie Newman all season with the ACC network,” Richt wrote. “Georgia just landed a great one! I predict he will be the best quarterback in the SEC!”
Beck is a brand-new quarterback with much to offer. He’s already taking in his first semester at Georgia this spring, as the class of 2020 signee enrolled early and went through Sugar Bowl practices with the team in December.
The four-star from Mandarin High School in Jacksonville, Florida, was ranked the eighth-best pro-style quarterback in his class. In his junior season, Beck led Mandarin to a Class 8A state championship and was named Florida’s “Mr. Football.”
Before Newman’s transfer to Georgia, Beck was slated to be a top contender for the job in Athens. He remains a viable option and will compete through spring practice, but he could also elect to take a redshirt season and continue to develop in Georgia’s scheme.
If Fromm went out in 2019, Bennett was the next man up.
Bennett will be a redshirt junior and has an interesting background at Georgia. He was part of the 2017 team that played to a College Football Playoff National Championship berth, though he acted as the scout team’s quarterback and used that year for a redshirt. He transferred to Jones County Junior College in 2018 and led that team to a 10-2 record with 1,840 passing yards, 12th-most in the NJCAA. After one year in junior college, Bennett came back to Georgia.
Once Justin Fields left for Ohio State for 2019, Bennett was the sole reliable option to back up Fromm. As a result, he played in five games — blowouts against Murray State, Arkansas State, Tennessee and Georgia Tech — and played a snap against LSU after Fromm was shaken up on a sack. The 5-11 quarterback lacks height but could compete for the backup spot again in 2020.
Mathis was a four-star pro-style quarterback in the 2019 recruiting class, participated in spring drills and played in the G-Day game before undergoing emergency brain surgery to remove a cyst in May 2019.
He’s been slowly making his way back on the team and eventually took over scout team duties once he was cleared to participate. He didn’t see any in-game snaps in his freshman season, but the 6-6, 205-pound quarterback has plenty of potential.
Mathis’ role will likely depend on his health and how soon he can be reincorporated into the offense, but his potential makes him a possibility for some snaps in 2020.