BEAVERTON, Ore. — Quarterback recruiting moves fast. Almost every top prospect commits to his school before his senior season begins. But at Nike’s The Opening Finals, there are a few uncommitted superstars at the position. Friday, SB Nation spoke with two of them.
At 6’3 and 221 pounds, Justin Fields stars in both football and baseball for Kennesaw (Ga.) Harrison High School. He decommitted from Penn State in June, after having been committed for half a year.
He’s visited some Southern schools recently.
Over the last two weeks, Fields has visited Georgia, Auburn, Florida State, Florida, and Alabama, and has had good things to say about all of them. He’s given interviews praising elements of each school, like the track record of success with the position, tradition, or a thin depth chart that would allow for immediate playing time.
I covered what each school has to offer in the June update to the SB Nation QB Dominoes feature.
Auburn has the Cam Newton connection, as Fields idolizes the former Tigers QB and plays on his 7v7 team, which is sponsored by Under Armour, as is Auburn. If 7v7 was like AAU in basketball recruiting, the apparel company connection might be seen as the most important piece in this recruitment. But football is different, so we’ll wait to see if it matters. Auburn also has a wide open QB room after transfer QB Jarrett Stidham leaves in a year or two.
Florida, having just accepted a transfer from QB Malik Zaire may offer the most immediate playing time, especially if class of 2016 QB Feleipe Franks is not developing as fast as UF would like. And Fields is a better prospect at the same age than Franks.
Florida State has Jimbo Fisher, the coach among the four schools with the clear best track record for developing quarterbacks, and has some room given that 2015 signee De’Andre Johnson and 2016 signee Malik Henry are no longer with the program.
And Georgia is the in-state school, which cannot be ignored, but it has signed five-star QBs in back-to-back years, so playing time might be the toughest in Athens. His sister has also committed to play softball for Georgia.
Based on his future visit plans, it doesn’t seem like a commitment is imminent.
Though Fields would like to get it done before his senior season begins.
“I want to get back to all of the top schools,” Fields said, clarifying that meant the five he recently visited. The only date he knew of for sure was Auburn, on July 13th.
Fields seems like the top target for each of the five schools he is considering. But recently, fellow uncommitted five-star Matt Corral, who recently decommitted from USC, revealed that Florida has offered him, but asked him to keep it quiet.
Corral is well aware Florida is also chasing fellow five-star quarterback Justin Fields. Have the Gators officially offered Corral, as no tender has been reported to date?
“Yeah, but the reason I haven’t said anything or posted it is because they told me not to, so I didn’t. It was pretty straight up.” — Via 247Sports
When asked about it, Fields said that this did not bother him, and that as an uncommitted player, he has no right to expect schools not to offer other quarterbacks.
For what it is worth, Fields did not mention Penn State during the interview, and it is safe to believe that ship has sailed.
Fields also chatted about baseball for a bit, saying that he will likely pick up with a team and play some games soon.
Turning into a recruiting analyst, Fields also made some predictions on where some of the top uncommitted receivers at the event will land. Those predictions can be found here, in the SB Nation The Opening Finals 2017 Live Blog.
SEC focus for Matt Corral
Speaking of Corral, the West Coast product who has a knack for making high-risk throws, also has a thing for East Coast schools at the moment.
Corral had already visited Georgia in April, and is planning to return in July. He plans to check out Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Miami between July 13th and August 4th.
Most industry experts believe Georgia has the leg up on Corral. He was wearing a Georgia wrist band, which he said he received from Georgia starting QB Jacob Eason.
But Florida and Alabama are also pursuing hard.
“I talk to Florida every day,” Corral said. He has previously spoken of the potential to start early at Florida.
Corral said that Florida asking him to keep his offer quiet did not bother him, and that he forgot the reason why the coaches told him that.
“I’m not big on the attention, so I don’t really care, it didn’t bother me,” adding that he does not think it was because of Florida’s pursuit of Justin Fields.
Like fields, Corral wants to make his commitment before his senior season begins.