The Newnan Times-Herald

Sports

‘My God, a freshman’


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Jan. 05, 2018 - 4:50 PM

The year was 1980.

Gas prices averaged $1.19 a gallon. “The Blues Brothers” and “Airplane” were among the flicks keeping movie fans entertained and laughing, and night-time soap fanatics found out who shot J.R. on the No. 1 television hit “Dallas.”

Oh yeah, the Georgia Bulldogs also were named college football’s best team by a collection of sports writers.

It was their last national championship.

Things were a lot different 38 years ago. The national championship was decided by a committee of voters – not on the field, the way it should be.

It was also the same year when a freshman running back by the name of Herschel Walker took his game from the small town of Wrightsville, Georgia straight to Athens, becoming a college football megastar when he ran over the University of Tennessee’s Bill Bates in the first game of his career.

The late Georgia radio announcer Larry Munson said it best over the airwaves that night – “My God, a freshman.”

Yes, Walker was only a freshman, but that play is still talked about by long-time citizens of the Bulldog Nation, and it’s one of Munson’s many legendary calls.

Walker went on to do great things at Georgia, eventually rushing for 5,259 yards and 49 touchdowns and winning the Heisman Trophy.

Walker stayed just three years at Georgia, but to many, even football fans who don’t cheer for the Red and Black, he’s the best college football player to ever play the game.

Walker eventually turned pro, first playing for the upstart USFL and future President Donald Trump’s New Jersey Generals, and then with five teams in the NFL.

With injuries and bad trades, Walker’s pro career never lived up to his glory days in Athens.

However, he wrote the definition of greatness on Saturdays in the fall almost four decades ago.

Jump ahead a generation later and another freshman has helped lead Georgia to an impressive season -- one that could end the national championship drought with a victory next Monday against Alabama.

Freshman quarterback Jake Fromm has been amazing this year. Sure, he has been surrounded by a great collection of teammates, especially running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, but this freshman has certainly not played like a freshman.

Maybe it was simply destiny that gave Fromm his chance to shine. The young quarterback was handed the reins of the Georgia football team when starting quarterback Jacob Eason went down with an injury early in game at Appalachian State, just the second of the season for the Bulldogs.

All Fromm did was lead his team to a victory against the Mountaineers' and he never came out of the lineup, even when Eason got healthy again.

The young man from Houston County has passed for 2,383 yards and 23 touchdowns with just five interceptions.

It would have been easy for Fromm to look like a deer caught in the headlights at times this year, but he was never intimidated by the big stage.

The only time he and Georgia stumbled this year with Fromm under center was in the first meeting against Auburn.

Three games later, in the SEC title game, Georgia got even, winning the rematch and moving on to the Rose Bowl and the college football playoffs.

On New Year’s Day, Fromm and his teammate rallied for one of the most dramatic comebacks in college football history to beat Oklahoma.

Now Georgia is one step away from winning a national title when the Bulldogs play Alabama Monday night in Atlanta, and the young, poised and talented freshman is a big reason why.

A national title is something older Georgia fans had to wonder if they would ever see again in their lifetime.

It also makes you wonder how Larry Munson would have described Fromm’s success.

Munson was never at a loss for words when describing his Bulldogs or those who don the Red and Black.

But with Fromm there would be no need to say something new.

“My God, a freshman,” would have been just fine.

(Doug Gorman is the sports editor of The Newnan Times-Herald.)