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Jacob Eason beats out Jake Fromm for Georgia starting QB job

HOOVER, Ala. -- Georgia coach Kirby Smart officially put to rest any talk of a quarterback controversy in Athens, naming sophomore Jacob Eason as the unquestioned starter for the Bulldogs.

"Jacob Eason is our starter going into the season. Jake Fromm's got to do something to beat him out," Smart said Tuesday. "Very similar to a lot of positions. You've got to beat them out. But we're very excited about both of them. Including Brice [Ramsey] we have three talented players."

Eason arrived as the nation's No. 1 pro-style passer before the 2016 season and started 12 of the 13 games he played in, throwing for 2,430 yards and 16 touchdowns with eight interceptions.

Smart alluded to there being competition between Eason and Fromm, a true freshman who enrolled early, this spring. Eason held the No. 1 spot throughout spring practice, but Fromm earned more praise after outperforming Eason in the box score of the Bulldogs' spring game by passing for 277 yards and two touchdowns on 14-of-23 passing. Eason went 16-for-36 for 311 yards and two scores and an interception.

However, Eason played with Georgia's first-team offense against the Bulldogs' first-team defense. Fromm was matched with the second- and third-team offense, facing the second- and third-team defense.

Still, Fromm's teammates were impressed with what they saw during all 15 of Georgia's spring practices.

"You never know what will happen," running back Nick Chubb said after the spring game. "Jacob Eason was the quarterback last year, but if Jake Fromm can come out and play well, I think that will open it up for either one of them [to be the starter]."

Georgia also bolstered its depth at quarterback when Ramsey opted to return to the Bulldogs after originally deciding to transfer. Ramsey was Georgia's No. 3 quarterback last season, but his in-game experience -- he has played in 24 career games as both a quarterback and punter and has passed for 582 yards -- should help the Bulldogs if something were to happen to Eason.

Regardless, the starting job remains Eason's to lose.

"Will Jake Fromm push Jacob Eason? Yeah, he already has," Smart said. "I think he's made Jacob respect the game and understand the importance of knowing the ins and outs of every play. Jake does that."

Smart said Eason also benefited from working with Peyton Manning and his brothers at the Manning Passing Academy this summer. The time with the Peyton Manning, Eli Manning and Cooper Manning certainly helped Eason physically with his throwing, but Smart said it was crucial for him to also progress with his leadership skills at the position, something the camp helped him with.

"He's still in the learning process of being able to do that," Smart said. "He's taken a much greater leadership role in the organization of things over the summer. ... A lot of that falls on Jacob and he's been tremendous at that. His next step is carrying it over to the field. That's the big part he's got to step up and do."