ATHENS — Apparently Justin Fields’ finger is just fine, thank you very much.
Fields came to Georgia as the top-rated dual-threat quarterback in America. So, naturally, everybody in the Bulldogs’ spring camp is talking about how great his arm is. “Cannon” seemed to be the consensus description.
Players and coaches fielded a lot of questions Tuesday about Georgia’s latest 5-star sensation. The Bulldogs held their first of 15 workouts at Woodruff Practice Fields and, not surprisingly, all eyes were on Fields as he trotted out in a No. 1 Georgia jersey for the first time.
Javon Wims, watching practice from the sidelines on Tuesday, has had the opportunity to throw and catch with the 6-foot-3, 225-pound freshman. The Bulldogs’ leading receiver from last season has been in town training for the pro day workout Wednesday, and Fields has thrown some routes with him.
“Great arm,” Wims said. “Cannon.”
And that was a description that was offered over and over.
“He’s got a cannon,” junior tight end Isaac Nauta said. “He’s a big, physical kid. … He’s a really good kid, too. I like the way he acts and his demeanor. He doesn’t get too big of a head. He’s very level-headed. And coming in to a place like this that’s what you’ve got to be.”
Senior wideout Terry Godwin said, “He’s got a nice arm. He’s a quarterback. We’re not recruiting a guy who doesn’t have a great arm. … But, overall, he’s a great guy. In 7-on-7, he’s been out there throwing the ball, knowing the checks and everything. He’s carrying himself very well.”
For the record, coach Kirby Smart hates such talk. He loathes people heaping praise on players who haven’t yet proven themselves in the heat of meaningful competition.
But he also had some nice things to say about Fields, who Georgia had to pry away from an early commitment to Penn State and fight off virtually every SEC and ACC team to land him.
“He’s done a tremendous job in the offseason workouts,” Smart said at his spring practice news conference. “He’s a competitor. He competes every day. He’s first in line trying to compete with every guy at his position. From a football standpoint, we haven’t been able to see a whole lot because we haven’t been able to do a whole lot. But he’s a very bright kid, and I’m excited to go see him practice.”
Recruiting analysts and those who have worked with Fields in elite prospect camps have maintained all along not to sleep on his passing ability. At Harrison High School, he rushed for 2,096 yards and 28 touchdowns, but he also threw for 4,187 and 41 more scores. So he was truly a dual threat.
At Georgia, Fields is working behind Jake Fromm, who earned SEC freshman of the year honors as a 14-game starter and 13-game winner last year. Fromm’s obvious edge is having been through all those battles and having complete command of the playbook.
But Fields also has impressed in the meeting room. And he didn’t win Elite 11 MVP honors on his running ability. He trained under Ron Veal — the same quarterback coach as Clemson 5-star freshman Trevor Lawrence — and plans to dedicate himself in the film room as much as the weight room.
“Right now, I would think the big thing for him is just learning the playbook,” Matt Dickmann, Fields’ coach at Harrison, told DawgNation’s Jeff Sentell. “That’s the big thing. Once he learns the mental aspect of what he needs to do for each play and what the coaching staff wants, the sky is the limit.”
Of course, the Bulldogs are just getting started, so there’s much more to see and learn about Fields. But his reputation precedes him, and that has even Georgia’s jaded veterans eager to see what all the fuss is about.
“I haven’t been able to see him escape a pocket or do any of that type of stuff,” Nauta said. But I’ve seen him run through winter workouts and he can run, too. But what’s impressed me is his arm.”