State passing records under siege

Houston County quarterback Jake Fromm signals touchdown. (AJC)

Houston County quarterback Jake Fromm signals touchdown. (AJC)

Records are made to be broken, just not so quickly.

From Hutson Mason to Deshaun Watson to Jake Fromm to Trevor Lawrence, Georgia high school football passing marks are being picked apart with the pace of a no-huddle offense.

Fromm, the University of Georgia-committed senior from Houston County, is on track to break Mason’s 2009 single-season and Watson’s 2010-13 career passing records. Mason, at Lassiter, and Watson, at Gainesville, crushed previous standards set in eras noted for running the ball. They appeared safe for years.

Instead, they’re merely serving as a prelude to a new age. Fromm has thrown for 2,906 yards in seven games and 11,741 yards in a career. At this season’s pace of 415.14 yards per game, he would break Mason’s record of 4,560 and Watson’s record of 13,077 in the 11th game. Houston County is 6-1.

‘’Jake is a one in a lifetime quarterback,’’ Houston County coach Von Lassiter said. “If I have another like him, it will be a blessing straight from God.’’

Fromm and many of the trend-setters are products of year-round training that begins now in middle school. Fromm has spent summers playing 7-on-7 camps around the South. He went to Oregon in July for the zenith of such camps, the Elite 11 finals in Oregon.

‘’The main thing for him is the work, the early mornings, the video, the practice, but one thing that helps him that people overlook is that there’s nothing he hasn’t seen,’’ Lassiter said. “In four years of playing, he’s seen all sorts of defenses and been to these camps where they’re giving him different coverages. Then he goes to the Elite 11 and he’s throwing against the greatest athletes in the country.’’

But if Fromm sets those records, he should relish them quickly. Behind him is the junior Lawrence of Cartersville, the consensus No. 1 recruit nationally. Lawrence has thrown for 8,597 career yards and could threaten 15,000 before he’s done.

And Lawrence is looking over his shoulder, too. Marietta’s Harrison Bailey – a 14-year-old – last week threw for 462 yards against Kennesaw Mountain. That broke Lawrence’s freshman record of 400. Bailey’s 298.33 per-game average puts him on pace to break Lawrence’s freshman season record of 3,042 by the 11th game.

Bailey’s coach, Richard Morgan, is new to Georgia. He built a national power at Oscar Smith High in Virginia, where he developed the state’s two all-time leading passers, Phillip Sims and Shon Mitchell, who also started as freshmen. Morgan says Bailey, at 6 feet, 3 inches, 215 pounds, is more advanced physically than they were at this stage but praises Bailey’s mental talents foremost. Bailey had offers from Georgia, Alabama and others before he played his first high school game.

‘’For a freshman, he has great composure and command of the offense,’’ Morgan said. “He has the ability to make second and third reads. That separates him from freshmen and quarterbacks in general.’’

There’s more. Macon County quarterback K’hari Lane threw for five touchdown passes last week for the fourth time in five games. His 25 TD passes in six games would threaten Watson’s season record of 54 if Macon County, ranked No. 2 in the Class A public division, can make it to a 14th game.

Even Fromm is no cinch to lead the state in passing. Griffin’s Tylan Morton has thrown for 2,701 yards, just 205 yards behind. Morton threw for 510 yards and seven touchdowns against Starr’s Mill – ironically in Griffin’s only loss, 52-49.

‘’When I came in the spring, the first time meeting him and the receivers, I was like ‘Wow, we’re going to light it up,’ ‘’ said new Griffin offensive coordinator Rex Robertson, who has coached five all-state quarterbacks at Eagle’s Landing and Henry County. “This guy Morton can throw it a mile. He has the ability on hitch routes to get the ball there faster where kids can do something with it.’’

Georgia is now a hot spot for blue-chip quarterbacks. The No. 1 quarterback recruit in the current senior class is Greater Atlanta Christian’s Davis Mills, who is committed Stanford. Mills is the consensus No. 2 pro style-quarterback nationally ahead of No. 4 Fromm. Mills missed three games with a knee injury but has thrown for 660 yards in four games for a No. 1-ranked team whose offense is more balanced.

Grayson’s Chase Brice (committed to Clemson) and McEachern’s Bailey Hockman (Florida State) join Mills and Fromm to give Georgia four of the top 15 quarterback recruits in the class of 2017.

As for juniors, Lawrence is the No. 1 pro-style QB prospect. Heard County’s Emory Jones, an Ohio State commit, is the No. 1 dual-threat QB prospect. Harrison’s Justin Fields is No. 8 among dual threats.

‘’Kids are bigger and stronger, and you can’t just run over and over and over any more,’’ Houston County’s Lassiter said. ‘’What’s happening in Georgia is a commitment to football. If schools have athletes like Jake and Trevor and Mills and those guys, they’re going to develop them because they know how. It’s a priority in this state.’’


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