Georgia football coach Kirby Smart appeared to acknowledge what has seemed apparent for a while: Sophomore Jacob Eason of Lake Stevens will be the team’s starting quarterback, at least going into the season.

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HOOVER, Ala. – Georgia football coach Kirby Smart appeared to acknowledge what has seemed apparent for a while: Sophomore Jacob Eason of Lake Stevens will be the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback, at least at the outset.

“Jacob Eason is our starter going into the season,” Smart said Tuesday at the annual Southeastern Conference media days. “Jake Fromm’s got to do something to beat him out. 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.”

While Eason started all but one game last season, Smart talked up the competition this spring with Fromm, a true freshman from Warner Robins, Ga., who enrolled early.

That was before Ramsey changed his mind about transferring and opted to return to Georgia for his senior season.

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Ramsey spent last year as the No. 3 quarterback, but has playing experience. That would appear to take pressure off Fromm to play right away. Ramsey could step in if something happens to the 6-foot-5, 235-pound Eason early in the season.

That doesn’t change the positive impression Fromm has made in his short time on campus.

“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.”

Eason passed for 2,430 yards and 16 touchdowns as a true freshman last year for the Bulldogs (8-5).

“I’m really excited about Jacob Eason’s growth, to watch him over the spring, the confidence he played in the system with, his ability to throw the ball and understand where pressure’s coming from,” second-year coach Smart said.

“He’s grown tremendously. I think (quarterbacks coach Jim) Chaney has done a great job with him in this offseason, making him realize his weaknesses and continue to work on those.”

Eason is showing increased leadership.

“He’s taken a much greater leadership role in organization of things over the summer,” Smart said. “Because the quarterback essentially runs your offseason program when it comes to throwing the ball. We (coaches) can’t be out there with them.

“A lot of that falls on Jacob’s shoulders. 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 to do, but he’s taking all the right steps to be able to do that.”