Reports came out last night that Justin Fields, a former five-star, dual-threat QB, plans on transferring from Georgia. Dan Wolken first had the report, but ESPN has since reported that Fields is only exploring the possibility of a transfer. According to a Rotoworld blurb, Fields’ could use racist remarks made by a former Georgia baseball player as the basis for his hardship waiver appeal. If he doesn’t receive a hardship waiver, he’ll be required to sit out the entire 2019 season.
For college football fans, the news that Fields is considering a transfer is more exciting than it is shocking. Fields appeared in all 12 games this season even though his usage was sporadic. He completed 69.2% of his passes for 328 yards, 4 touchdowns, and no interceptions. He also ran for 266 yards and 4 touchdowns. Most of Fields’ playing time came in short yardage situations and garbage time. Irrationally, Kirby Smart rarely gave Fields an entire series to himself.
With a transfer, Fields will become the hottest ‘free agent’ on the market. Where could he end up? Which schools make the most sense for him?
Mississippi State – Before signing with Georgia, Fields was committed to Penn State for roughly six months. Joe Moorhead, PSU’s Offensive Coordinator at the time, played a pivotal role in Fields commitment to the Nittany Lions. Now, Joe Moorhead is in charge of the Mississippi State program. Three-year starter Nick Fitzgerald has used up all of his eligibility, but the Bulldogs have a former four-star dual-threat QB in Keytaon Thompson waiting in the wings. Thompson finished up the 2017 Egg Bowl and started the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl in place of an injured Fitzgerald. He also opened the 2018 season as the starter while Fitzgerald served a one-game suspension. Thompson is not nearly as polished as Fields, but he’s been electric in his three biggest appearances.
Oklahoma – Lincoln Riley and the Sooners are losing their second Heisman-winning QB in as many seasons. The depth chart will be wide open in 2018 and the chance for immediate playing time is as great here as anywhere else. If Fields is granted immediate eligibility, this just makes too much sense.
Penn State – It’s anyone’s guess what initially drew Fields to Happy Valley. Was it strictly Joe Moorhead and his offense? Was it the campus or the game day atmosphere? Had Fields stuck with his commitment, he would have been in line to start the 2018 season after backing up starter Trace McSorley this season. Penn State could be back in the running. Like Fields, Micah Parsons decommitted from Penn State in 2017, but he ended up signing with them in December. Parsons didn’t waste any time tweeting at Fields once the news of his potential transfer broke.
— BLESSEDMVP (@Micah_Parsons11) December 18, 2018
Florida – This is a long shot and admittedly wishful thinking on my part, but Dan Mullen made a run at Fields after being hired as the Gators’ Head Coach last November. Florida is one of the schools that Fields visited (unofficially) between decommitting from Penn State and committing to Georgia. Florida makes sense with Dan Mullen at the helm, not to mention the Gators haven’t had a QB since Tim Tebow. No one currently on the roster has proven themselves, and if Fields is granted immediate eligibility, his services would be welcomed by Gators fans.
LSU – One of Fields’ three official visits in 2017 was to Baton Rouge. Every year, it’s the same story with LSU, they have a great defense, and the only missing piece of the offense is the quarterback. However, Head Coach Ed Orgeron isn’t quite sure what he’s looking for in an offensive coordinator and his job security isn’t the most stable either. It would not make sense for Fields, or any quarterback of his caliber, to join a school whose head coach is just as likely to be unemployed as still on the sidelines a year from now.
Florida State – FSU is another school Fields visited before committing to Georgia in 2017. However, Jimbo Fisher was the head coach at the time and we didn’t know the offensive line was a complete fiasco. In fairness, 2018 will be Willie Taggart’s second season at FSU, and things should begin to turn around as he starts getting his own players on the field. With no real competition on the depth chart, Fields could help expedite that turnaround. Like Mullen at Florida, Taggart also let Fields know of his interest after taking over the Florida State job.
Ohio State – This one is courtesy of ESPN. They are reporting that Ohio State is one of three schools that Fields would consider transferring to. I’m not buying this one. If Urban Meyer was still the head coach in Columbus, then absolu…wait a minute…Justin Fields replacing Dwayne Haskins as the Buckeyes’ signal caller is exactly the kind of thing that would bring Urban Meyer out of retirement.
The timing of this news makes the December signing period even more interesting, but how does this news affect Georgia? Currently, the Bulldogs only have one quarterback, John Rhys Plumlee, committed to them this cycle. If Fields departs, this would be the second year in a row that a five-star QB left the program leaving Jake Fromm as the only scholarship quarterback on the roster. Fromm took over for Jacob Eason when he injured his left knee in the 2017 opener. Instead of playing the backup role to Fromm, Eason transferred to Washington. When Fields committed to Georgia, he knew Fromm was the starter, and it would be difficult to unseat him, especially with how loyal the coaching staff and locker room is to Fromm, but he chose to sign with Georgia anyway.
A Justin Fields transfer would certainly shift the college football landscape and continue a trend of top quarterback recruits transferring at some point during their college career. We’ll have to stay tuned to see how this plays out…to see if Fields is serious about relocating…to see if he is granted immediate eligibility as every college football transfer last offseason seemed to be.