Field-ing A Quarterback
I didn’t plan on doing another blog until late next week, but this news is too important to put off. Georgia quarterback Justin Fields is transferring to Ohio State. I’m sure many of you are thinking, “Yeah…so?” Players transfer all the time. Quarterbacks transfer all the time. But, former 5-star/possible future superstars don’t transfer all the time. Make no mistake Fields has the potential to be a superstar. He’s the highest rated recruit the Buckeyes have ever brought in since recruiting services have tracked that sort of thing (about 19 years). ESPN had him as their number one recruit, and ranked ahead of Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. He’s big (6’3”, 225 pounds), and mobile. One NFL scout called him the greatest high school quarterback he’s ever seen. Fields decided to leave Georgia over a racial incident involving a baseball player from the school. I don’t think the NCAA will hesitate to approve his immediate eligibility. He knows Dwayne Haskins because they train together with the same quarterback coach in the off-season. A quarterback coach who speaks VERY highly of Ryan Day. I think it is safe to say this had an influence on his decision. Suddenly it looks like Columbus is turning into a destination for elite quarterbacks. Fields has the potential to be THE quarterback in college football someday.
Where does he fit in with the Buckeyes? I’ll say this up front: I love Tate Martell. He’s an athlete, a competitor, and a proven winner. But, the guy I want leading the Buckeyes is the one best suited to take them to a national championship. If it is Martell, then that’s great. If it is Fields, that’s great also. I don’t care if they put Chase Young in the shotgun as long as he’s the best player for the job. That being said I don’t think Ryan Day would pursue a player of this caliber if he didn’t think he could be the starter. There are questions about Martell’s arm. It improved greatly from spring practice to the regular season, but there are
still questions. On the surface Fields appears to be a better dual threat. I don’t worry about whether or not he can pick up the offense in spring practice, and be ready for the regular season. Joe Burrow didn’t transfer to LSU until May, and he learned the offense well enough to be their opening day starter. Martell may have a two year head start on knowing the system, but I don’t think that will really make a difference when it comes time to name a starter for the Buckeyes’ August 31st opener against Florida Atlantic. There is a long way to go before Day has to choose. My gut feeling tells me Justin Fields will be the opening day starter.
Most likely this means Haskins is leaving. He told reporters on Saturday Fields was waiting for him to make a decision about leaving for the draft before deciding on transferring. So, if you do the math it adds up to Haskins departing. I’m on the record saying I think he needs another year in college, but he’s the top quarterback in the draft, and I don’t see a scenario where he decides to stay.
Stay tuned, folks. There is a long way to go with this story.
Center Michael Jordan has decided to enter the NFL Draft. The 6’7”, 310 pound junior spent his first two seasons at left guard before moving to center this year where he was named a first-team All-American. He was an early enrollee in 2016, and won a starting spot during spring practice. Jordan was the first true freshman to start on the offensive line for the Buckeyes since Orlando Pace in 1996. He was named a freshman All-American in 2016, and first-team All-Big Ten last year. The Canton, Michigan native is expected to be a mid-round draft choice.
Oklahoma has hired OSU co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Alex Grinch to take over their defense. Grinch came to the Buckeyes from Washington State after last season, and was expected to take over as OSU’s defensive coordinator when Greg Schiano moved on. My guess is Schiano is going to be retained, and that is why Grinch decided to join the Sooners. Gotta be honest and say I was not impressed with the job he did with the Buckeye safeties. I know he’s considered one of the better young defensive coaches, but OSU safeties struggled a lot this year. Free safety Jordan Fuller played well enough, but the field safety position was a liability until the tenth game of the season when Brendan White took over.
Columbus native Al Washington is one name that has been mentioned a lot as a potential defensive hire. He’s currently on Michigan’s staff, but has coached previously with Day at Boston College. Another name to watch is Marcus Freeman. The former Buckeye linebacker is currently on Luke Fickell’s staff at Cincinnati. Expect the opening created by Grinch’s departure to be filled quickly.
Receiver Terry McLaurin has been invited to the Senior Bowl. The January 26th game in Mobile, Alabama is the nation’s premier college all-star game. The staffs of the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers will coach the squads this year. This is a huge opportunity for McLaurin because practices are observed by just about every GM, and coaching staff in the NFL. He is the only Buckeye chosen for the game.
Another Buckeye has announced he will return for his senior season. Backup long snapper Phillip Thomas took to Twitter to make the announcement. The OSU kickers, and other long snappers gave the announcement the proper fanfare on social media. I’m going to guess there is not another group in college football who are as funny, and take themselves less serious than the Buckeye kickers and long snappers. I get the biggest kick out of those guys.
I’ll be back with more next week. Just wanted to give a quick update on the transfer news, and a few other goings on. Have a great weekend!