Will freshman Georgia QB Jake Fromm be a star, or a statistic on Saturday?
The statistics are not on Jake Fromm’s side.
Specifically, one statistic. This statistic:
Since the beginning of the Lou Holtz Era in 1986, no opposing quarterback has won inside Notre Dame Stadium in his first career start.
None. As in, zero. Thirty-one years of failed first impressions.
That isn’t to say that it can’t be done, or won’t be done, when No. 24 Notre Dame (1-0) hosts No. 15 Georgia (1-0) on Saturday night. After all, Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson torched ND in his second career start in 2010, rushing for 258 yards and two touchdowns and passing for 244 yards and another score in a 28-24 win. Three years later, Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell downed the Irish with 232 passing yards and two touchdowns in his second career start in 2013.
The last opposing true freshman quarterback to win inside Notre Dame Stadium was Louisville’s Reggie Bonnafon in 2014. The dual threat signal caller — who passed for a touchdown and rushed for two more scores in a 31-28 victory — has since converted to running back.
And, speaking of running backs, Georgia has two pretty good ones in seniors Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.
So, yes, it can be done.
But is Fromm the guy to do it?
"Jake is a gamer. He is a kid that grew up around the game,” said Georgia head coach Kirby Smart, who declared sophomore starting quarterback Jacob Eason out with a sprained left knee ligament on Monday. “I look at him and compare him to a coach's son, a football junkie. He likes it. He loves being around it. He's always cheering and fired up out there. Every time he makes a good throw or a good play in practice he is jacked and he is as excited for the kid who made the play as he is for himself.
“As a defensive coach you may see him cheering and think that he's rubbing it in, but that's just who he is. He really is passionate about the game. He can't let his emotions get in the way for him because, for him, it's just an excitement. He's that kind of way. He's just competitive."
Fromm — a 6-foot-2, 225-pound freshman — enrolled early at Georgia after being ranked as a five-star recruit, the No. 3 pro-style quarterback and the No. 20 overall prospect in the 2017 class by Rivals, as well as a four-star prospect, the No. 2 pro-style quarterback and the No. 51 overall recruit by 247Sports.
In a heralded prep career at Houston County High School in Warner Robins, Ga., Fromm passed for 12,817 yards and 116 touchdowns in 46 games, finishing just 260 yards shy of the Georgia state passing record, which was held by a current Houston Texan and former Clemson national champion quarterback you might have heard of:
Oh, and Fromm did it in 10 fewer games.
In his senior season, the one-time Alabama commit and former Little League World Series standout passed for 3,910 yards and 41 touchdowns while completing 63.7 percent of his passes.
About 800 miles north, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly already had a quarterback commit in Texas dual threat ace Avery Davis.
He took notice nevertheless.
“I see all the quarterbacks,” Kelly said on Tuesday. “And you know, we were already involved and engaged in another quarterback at the time. But I always liked his presence and his savvy. He always just seemed to be somebody very comfortable.
“He reminds me a lot of a quarterback we have, Ian Book, on our team. Just has that ‘it’ as a quarterback.”
Or, as Georgia outside linebacker Davin Bellamy put it: "If you guys knew how well this guy prepares, as a student of the game, even in the summertime in seven-on-seven … the guy is the real deal."
So much so that he committed and signed with in-state SEC power Georgia … despite the fact that Eason, another former five-star recruit, was only a year older and had already secured the starting job.
"I don't think Jake Fromm cares about the depth chart,” Smart said. “So many people think that kids do, but the best quarterbacks that I've ever been around are the ones that don't care.
“I don't think he ever cared. He loved Georgia. The kid has loved Georgia since he was growing up and he has wanted to be a Georgia Bulldog all his life, so that is what he chose to do. It didn't matter who was here. He is pretty confident in himself, and the best ones are."
But will Fromm still be confident on Saturday night, with the Notre Dame fight song blaring and Touchdown Jesus looming above? Will he succeed where others have failed? Will he be a star, or a statistic?
Only time will tell.