Fields Gains Eligibility, Is Ready To Direct OSU Offense
Justin Fields was a five-star recruit as a prep star and his arrival to the University of Georgia was heralded all across his home state.
He created similar excitement this winter when he decided to transfer to Ohio State, allowing new head coach Ryan Day to build his offense around a highly talented dual-threat quarterback.
The only issue remaining, though, was whether or not Fields would be declared eligible in time for the 2019 season, bridging the QB gap after a record-setting season by the departed Dwayne Haskins.
On Friday, just two days after the beginning of the late signing period, the university announced the NCAA had indeed approved Fields’ waiver application, paving the way for him to gain immediate eligibility
“I am happy for Justin and his family,” Day said in a school release. “I also want to express my appreciation to the NCAA for its assistance in getting this matter resolved efficiently and with such a positive outcome for Justin.”
Fields, who hails from Kennesaw, Ga., and Harrison High School, is currently a sophomore and enrolled in classes at Ohio State. He is now also a sophomore in eligibility this fall for the Buckeyes after playing in 12 games last season for the Bulldogs.
Just two days earlier, Fields spoke to the Ohio State media as part of the Signing Day festivities and handled questions for 25 minutes.
The first topic to arise, of course, was the matter of his status with the NCAA waiver application.
“I’m not sure about that right now,” he said at the time. “I’m just trying to get to know the guys better and learn the system and focusing on this season. I’m just focused on being the best quarterback I can be.”
While Fields was unsure of his playing situation just days ago, he was still positive about his transition to OSU.
“It’s going good because me and the guys are building a good relationship,” he said. “(Coach) Day is a great guy and everyone else on the staff is too. And Coach Mick (Mickey Marotti) and the guys in the weight room, everyone. So, I’m definitely getting acclimated and I like it up here a lot.”
Fields is buddies with Haskins and hung out with him soon after making the move to Columbus. But he said the biggest reason why he chose OSU was to play for Day.
As for his decision to leave Georgia and his backup role to starter Jake Fromm, he added, “I’d really rather not talk about why I left. I just want to talk about being here and our upcoming goals that this team and me want to accomplish this year.”
Fields is not yet a polished collegiate passer. Still, there’s no question he has ability and capability. Listed 6-3 and 225 pounds, he was ranked as the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback and the No. 2 overall recruit in the country in the 2018 class, per the 247Sports Composite.
As a true freshman at Georgia this past season, Fields was 27 of 39 passing (69.2 percent) with four touchdowns and no interceptions. He added 266 rushing yards (6.3 yards per carry) and four more TDs, enough to be named to the SEC All-Freshman team.
At Harrison High School, Fields was a two-year starter (2016-17) and was named the Under Armour All-America Game. He was also the MVP of the Elite 11 QB competition.
In his high school career, he threw for 4,187 yards, rushed for 2,096 yards and accounted for a whopping 69 touchdowns (41 passing, 28 rushing). Like Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray, Fields also was a promising high school baseball player while in high school who could have opted to pursue that sport at the next level.
He was on the wrong end of a racial epithet which caused the University of Georgia to dismiss a member of its baseball team, an incident that eventually led to the NCAA granting Fields’ request for immediate eligibility.
Seeing the writing on the wall, Tate Martell transferred out of the program. The prevailing wisdom now is the QB job is Fields’ to snag. Redshirt freshman Matthew Baldwin most likely will serve as OSU’s backup.
When asked about Martell, Fields said, “I knew of him, but I didn’t really know him. I guess you can say I was surprised that he left, but we’ve got to do what’s best for us and I wish the best of luck to him.”
He said he’s looking forward to competing with and learning from Baldwin.
“Matthew is a great guy and a great competitor,” Fields said. “I can tell through what we’ve been doing that he’s smart in the film room, and he’s just a nice guy overall.”
A reporter asked Fields what specific parts of the OSU offense aligns with his skillset.
“I would say just the type of plays Coach Day has implemented, such as the pre-progression reads,” he responded. “Kind of the one, two, three, four reads. Those to me are the easiest reads because you can just go across the board and read them like that. And just the guys we have at wideout, they are great athletes and great players. So, I’m sure they are going to make my job easier.
“I see myself using my legs a little bit more than Dwayne did last year. But I’m really just here to do what Coach Day asks me to do and whatever is best for the team. I would describe myself as kind of a playmaker. A player that’s able to extend plays when a play breaks down and an exciting player.”