A source with direct knowledge of the situation said Fields is strongly considering Ohio State, but also has interest in Oklahoma, UCF and UCLA.
Fields was one of the top recruits in the class of 2018 but was not able to unseat Jake Fromm as the Bulldogs starting quarterback. Each of the four programs mentioned offers different opportunities for Fields. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart noted Fields is considering the move now in order to potentially start 2019 at a new school.
“I can’t be annoyed, the kid is doing what he thinks is best for him,” Smart explained to Dawg Nation. “If he’s going to make a decision, he can’t wait until after the bowl game, because schools starts (Jan. 8).”
Fields Is Reportedly Considering Transferring to Ohio State, Oklahoma, UCF or UCLA
Ohio State’s current quarterback Dwayne Haskins is one of the top NFL prospects. If Haskins declares for the draft, it could open up an opportunity for Fields to take over the offense.
Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray is either headed to play for the Oakland A’s or enter the NFL draft. Lincoln Riley is one of the best offensive minds in football.
UCF has one of the best offenses in the country, and the Knights had a devastating injury to star quarterback McKenzie Milton. UCF head coach Josh Heupel has a history of developing quarterbacks and had quite a career as Oklahoma’s signal caller. After a shaky start, Darriel Mack Jr. filled in nicely for Milton in UCF’s conference title game against Memphis.
UCLA is continuing to undergo an overhaul under head coach Chip Kelly, and Dorian Thompson-Robinson struggled to find his footing during his freshman season.
Smart noted that Fields wants to play in the Sugar Bowl while he is exploring his transfer options.
“He decided he wanted to play in the Sugar Bowl, and I told him ‘absolutely, we want you there,’ ” Smart told Dawg Nation. “Justin is working extremely hard, he’s in the meeting rooms, he’s still rolling with our twos. I’m pleased with his work and demeanor, he has had good reps…I don’t think there’s anything you can do (to convince him to stay). We’ve been very open and honest that we would like him to stay. He’s worked really hard. He competed his tail off throughout the year and played a team role throughout the year.”
Fields’ Status for 2019 Is in Question
Transfers typically have to sit out a year before playing, which would put Fields’ availability for 2019 in question. There is speculation that Fields will request a waiver from the NCAA which would make him immediately eligible to play. USA Today’s Dan Wolken detailed why Fields might have a case.
Though NCAA transfer rules require athletes to sit out a year, there’s a waiver process to play immediately that has gotten pretty lenient in recent years. And Fields could have a very strong case to get that waiver.
During the Sept. 29 game against Tennessee, Georgia baseball player Adam Sasser was heard by multiple people in the stands referring to Fields with a racial slur. The incident blew up publicly, and Georgia dismissed Sasser from the baseball team after an investigation. It’s certainly plausible that Fields could include that in his request under a new NCAA rule that allows for waivers “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.”
Where Will Fields Transfer?
The start of 2019 could introduce an odd period of free agency in college football with top quarterbacks like Fields and Jalen Hurts looking for new schools. Ohio State and Oklahoma are the favorites for different reasons. The Buckeyes appear to have an immediate need but there is a bit of uncertainty with Ryan Day taking over for Urban Meyer.
Oklahoma may make the most sense given Riley’s ability in the past to utilize transfers like Murray and Baker Mayfield. The Sooners’ offense would be a good fit for Fields, and the quarterback would keep Oklahoma in the championship picture next season.
UCF is a darkhorse candidate as the Knights just finished their second undefeated season. Fields could put up crazy numbers in the UCF offense. There is potentially an open spot in Orlando with Milton’s long recovery ahead. For as promising as Mack has looked in limited action, the Knights would be crazy not to try to get a visit with Fields.