After word came out of Athens, Ga. yesterday that dual-threat quarterback Justin Fields would be transferring from UGA, Kyle Rowland of The Toledo Blade is reporting that sources say that Ohio State is the front-runner to land the rising sophomore quarterback.
Coming out of high school, Fields was the second-ranked player nationally in the 2018 recruiting class — behind only Clemson starting QB Trevor Lawrence — and the top-rated dual-threat quarterback. In fact, 247 Sports has him ranked as the eighth-best recruit all-time.
Fields played in 12 games during his freshman year for the Bulldogs, backing up Jake Fromm. He threw for 328 yards and ran for 266 as well. He also accounted for eight touchdowns; four on the ground and four through the air.
Rowland is reporting that new OSU head coach Ryan Day is the “primary reason” that Fields is interested in joining the Buckeyes. The Kennisaw, Ga. native is also apparently interested in Florida State and Oklahoma.
As outlined by Andy Staples on SI.com, despite being only a sophomore, there is a path for Fields to play immediately at whatever school he decides to attend in the fall. Fields is expected to retain lawyer Tom Mars, who helped ensure that Shea Patterson was immediately eligible at Michigan.
Staples spells out a case that could be argued to Fields’ benefit. Should he petition for an immediate transfer, Fields could site the first transfer stipulation that the NCAA’s Division I Council announced in April.
“The transfer is due to documented mitigating circumstances that are outside the student-athlete’s control and directly impact the health, safety and well-being of the student-athlete.”
Earlier this season, it was reported that a UGA baseball player yelled a racial epithet about Fields from the stands during a football game. After an investigation by the university, that player, Adam Sasser, was dismissed from the team, and issued a semi-apology on Twitter.
While Staples admits that using this to claim that Fields is not safe in Athens might not reach the level that the NCAA intended, he theorizes that it could be a bad look for UGA to oppose the waiver, or for the NCAA to deny it.
Turning attention back to the Buckeyes, Fields is also good friends with current OSU quarterback Dwayne Haskins, and while Simba is likely heading the NFL after the Rose Bowl, he should be able to give Fields an accurate assessment of Day as a coach.
If Fields joined OSU, and Haskins departs, the transfer would be entering a QB room along with Tate Martell, Matthew Baldwin, Chris Chugunov, and incoming freshman Dwan Mathis.