Jake Fromm knew he would be in the heart of Razorback country when asked to be the keynote speaker at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette All-Arkansas Preps ninth annual banquet on Saturday night at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. But the Buffalo Bills quarterback didn’t hesitate to accept the invitation to fly to Little Rock to address a room full of student-athletes, coaches and their families – many of whom are die-hard University of Arkansas fans.
Plus, he has a pretty good relationship with the guy who runs the Razorbacks football program.
“It was last minute, sure, but when my marketing team mentioned it I was like ‘why not go to the great state of Arkansas,’ https://www.nwaonline.com / news / 2021 / jun / 20 / buffalo -qb-feels-the-love-of-participants-from-Arkansas / “said Fromm, a former University of Georgia quarterback who intervened after that Major League Baseball Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith couldn’t. “I was excited about it actually, especially when it comes to celebrating high school kids and their accomplishments. Of course, that’s Coach. [Sam] Pittman’s original state now too.
“He was literally one of my rocks when he was an assistant coach at Georgia for sure. I was really excited to see him, one, get a head coach job and two, get the success that he had. I’m so grateful for the memories and wisdom he gave me. I support him more than anyone. “
This year’s banquet was a stark contrast to one held in 2020 when health and safety reasons related to the coronavirus pandemic forced the event to be held virtually on Facebook. Additionally, spring sports were not included on last year’s show after covid-19 forced those seasons to be canceled.
However, a sold-out crowd inside the Wally Allen Ballroom was proof enough to show how good it was for many to regain a sense of normalcy.
“It’s good to be a normal player again,” said Fromm. “Dealing with covid was tough last year for everyone, but things are looking up for all of us.”
Outstanding players and coaches of the year have once again been recognized for their work in their respective sports, including a trio of winners for male (Austin Ledbetter of Bryant) and female (Blakelee Winn of Pea Ridge) of the year. as General Coach of the Year (Brian Glass of Prescott). During the banquet, two other noteworthy awards were presented to three students, who also focused on their lives outside of sport.
Brannon McMinn of Cabot was named the recipient of the Hussman Community Award, while Natalie Jennings of Hot Springs Lakeside and Olivia Chambers of Mount St. Mary’s were chosen as recipients of the CHI St. Vincent Health Award.
But before Ledbetter, Winn, Glass, McMinn, Jennings and Chambers received their accolades, all eyes were on Fromm, 22, who is no stranger to being called in in an emergency.
In the first game of his real first year in Georgia in 2017, he was forced into action when Bulldogs starting quarterback Jacob Eason injured his knee in the first quarter against Appalachian State. Fromm, who threw for 143 yards and a touchdown to lead Georgia to a 31-10 victory, never gave up that No.1 spot until the end of his junior year, when he made the decision to skip his senior season and declare for the 2020 NFL Draft.
After being picked by Buffalo in the fifth round as the No. 167 overall pick, the Bills made him their covid-19 emergency quarterback, which essentially meant that Fromm, the Bills third-string caller behind Starter Josh Allen and substitute Matt Barkley, occasionally trained away from his other teammates so the team had a quarterback available in case there was a covid-19 outbreak at the post.
“It was a crazy role for sure,” said Fromm, who had 8,224 yards and 78 touchdowns during his three-year career at Georgia. “There was no real plan for it because it was a little new to everyone. It was definitely new to me. But hey, they gave me a role, gave me a job. , and I wanted to do my best with it.
“I tried to take it as seriously as I could, and wanted to be ready and prepared if, God forbid, anything happened. I just tried to stay ready, but I’m really excited to to finally be a normal football player this season. “
It doesn’t look like the Bills will be forced to use Fromm in a similar role this year, especially with the NFL, for the most part, returning to their regular operations. But that doesn’t necessarily mean Fromm will have an easier time moving up the depth chart, especially after the moves Buffalo made in the offseason.
After signing Davis Webb to a reserve contract in January, the Bills added former Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in March. Buffalo, who won the AFC East last season and lost in the conference title game, did not draft a quarterback or sign one during free play, which bodes well for Fromm. . But he’s not interested in taking anything for granted. In his eyes, he has work.
“We have just completed our [organized team activities], and we’re going to take a break here for five weeks, but there’s a lot of work to do between now and when we play, ”said Fromm, who is also getting married in the coming weeks.“ So after that we let’s get ready to go to camp. But I’m ready to go to work and compete and give the team whatever I can give them and help in any way I can. “
One of Fromm’s messages to the winners on Saturday echoed the same state of mind.
“I was never going to let anyone outdo me,” he told those in attendance. “You have to get to work and have the faith that things will work in your favor.”
Outstanding players of the year
Austin Ledbetter, Bryant, Football
Nick Smith, Sylvan Hills, Boys Basketball
Wolfenbarger jersey, Fort Smith Northside, Girls basketball
Connor Johnson, Van Buren, Baseball
Emily Perry, Bentonville, Softball
Rosana Hicks, Fayetteville, Volleyball
Michael Senn, Bentonville, Boys Golf
Grace Kilcrease, Springdale Har-Ber, Girls’ Golf
Jack Williams, Fayetteville, Cross Country Skiing Boys
Carson Wasemiller, Fayetteville, Cross Country Skiing Girls
Jacob Adams, Bentonville, boys’ wrestling
Ember Smith, Maumelle, Girls Wrestling
Collin Matthews, Rogers, Boys Tennis
Kate Files, Fort Smith Northside, Girls Tennis
Woyn Chatman, Little Rock Central, Boys Athletics
Emily Robinson, Bentonville, Girls Athletics
Jack Henry Forrest, Little Rock Central, Boys Swimming
Lienfang Yu, Bentonville, Girls Swimming
Pedro Rodriguez, Van Buren, Football boys
Sophie Nash, North Little Rock, Girls Football
Overall Athletes of the Year
Austin Ledbetter (Bryant)
Blakelee Winn (Pea Ridge)
Outstanding Coaches of the Year
Chris Hill, Sylvan Hills, Soccer
Adam Camp, Taylor, Softball
Eric Teague, Melbourne, Girls basketball
Brad Francis, Harding Academy, Men’s basketball
Chris Ezell, Eldorado, Golf
Brian Glass, Prescott, Boys Athletics
Randy Ramaker, Bentonville, Girls Athletics
Liz Braun, Bentonville, Swimming
Tommy Richardson, Woodlawn, Baseball
John Kincade, Greenwood, boys wrestling
Travis Alexander, Mountain Home, Girls Wrestling
Margie McGee, valley view, volleyball
Heather Wade, Pea Ridge, Cross Country Skiing Boys
Megan Berry, West Side Greers Ferry, Girls’ Cross Country Skiing
Eric Perez, Green Forest, Football Boys
Joe Thoma, Fayetteville, Soccer Girls
Jason Morgan, Jonesboro, Tennis
General Coach of the Year
Brian Glass (Prescott)