Georgia freshman QB Justin Fields, the No. 2 overall recruit in the class of 2018 and one of the most touted dual-threat QB prospects ever, may have played his last down in Athens. He notified the Dawgs he intends to transfer, USA Today reported Monday.
ESPN reported that Fields was exploring a transfer but could still remain at Georgia. His mom told Dawg Nation nothing was decided. Fields, for his part, has barely spoken publicly all season. After the SEC Championship, he said he’d been frustrated as a backup to Jake Fromm earlier in the season but had settled into the role as a team player:
Justin Fields.. in his own words.. on his frustrations and his future— Zach Klein (@ZachKleinWSB) December 18, 2018
(this was post SEC Championship game.. only time media allowed to talk to him all season) pic.twitter.com/urvkkwtLDs
Fields is a rare talent. A baseball player who wowed just about everyone who ever watched him on the football recruiting circuit, he figured to be Georgia’s QB for three or four years when he signed in December 2017. He’d previously been committed to Penn State, but when he reopened his recruitment, most every blue-blood wanted him.
If he leaves, he’ll be the second five-star Georgia QB in a year to do so. Jacob Eason transferred to Washington after the 2017 season. The demand for Fields would be huge. PSU would go after him, certainly, as would Mississippi State under former PSU offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead. Florida State appeared close-ish to getting his commitment at one time, and so many others would throw their hats into the ring, too.
QBs transferring when they’re down on the depth chart is the way of the college football world now, so Fields doing it wouldn’t be surprising.
It wouldn’t be surprising for the same reason Eason’s move wasn’t surprising: Fromm, a four-star one class ahead of Fields, seized the starting job when Eason got hurt at the start of 2017 and has not given it up.
Lots of us (me included) thought Fields was so talented that he’d overtake the solid but less elite recruit Fromm — not unlike how Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa (a five-star a year ahead of Fields) eventually surpassed Jalen Hurts.
A player could transfer for any number of reasons, but Fromm’s continual occupation of the QB1 perch has obviously limited Fields’ involvement. The Dawgs barely used him as a passer in important games, instead bringing him on as an occasional running option against the best teams on their schedule. In an SEC Championship loss to Bama, they used him as the up man on a fake punt, and it didn’t work at all.
Fields was 27-of-39 passing as a freshman for 328 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. Not counting sacks, he 38 times for a 7.7-yard average. Given how often Georgia won blowouts, his lack of usage was perplexing:
Imagine only letting one of the highest-rated recruits of the decade throw just 39 passes in a year in which you won games by 45, 28, 42, 14, 26, 28, 19, 17, 17, 39, and 24.— SB Nation Recruiting (@SBNRecruiting) December 18, 2018
Fields’ departure wouldn’t doom the Dawgs but there’s a solid chance he develops into a star they wish they had.
Fromm’s good, but he’s struggled to win games with his arm against great teams. Fields clearly has development left to do, but he’s a far better runner than Fromm and — if his time as a recruit was an indication — has tremendous passing upside. When he was a recruit, SB Nation’s Bud Elliott compared him to another baseball-playing QB, Russell Wilson.
The potential for either QB to declare for the draft after three years in college complicates this picture somewhat, but Fields would’ve been in line to eventually follow Fromm as the starter. And it’s not that hard to imagine he’d surpass him sometime in 2019.
If Fields goes, he’ll be back in a position he’s become familiar with.
That’s the one where everyone wants him.