Steffenie Burns/UGA
Justin Fields (1) is behind Jake Fromm (11), but for how long?

Why not redshirt freshman QB Justin Fields? Here’s why not

Welcome to a feature on DawgNation, where our writers answer (or try to answer) the best questions submitted by Georgia fans. If you’d like to submit a question, please e-mail us at ugaquestionoftheday@gmail.com. Look for the Question of the Day every Monday through Friday.

Following DawgNation forum I have read numerous opinions on the issue of should Justin Fields redshirt? 

Without knowing the NCAA rules on the matter my opinion is why not? Jake Fromm has proved to be formidable at quarterback and appears set to lead the Bulldogs for the next two years, at least. If Fields redshirts, he could potentially be backup one year with three remaining as starter, assuming he exhausts his eligibility, albeit unlikely.

Stetson Bennett is touted as an adequate backup, with a relatively soft schedule, should injury occur. It seems a reasonable plan to keep both quarterbacks happy and in Athens for the next four years.
 Mark Andrews

My hesitation always is to avoid saying something will never happen, lest I appear in a Freezing Cold Take. But I have very little expectation that Justin Fields will redshirt.

In a perfect world for Georgia football, if you could lay out everything perfectly over the next five years, then that plan works just fine. But that ideal world doesn’t exist.

Yes, there’s a chance the NCAA will pass a new redshirt rule, which would allow someone to redshirt even if they play four games (or fewer). Maybe that’s one way to thread the needle between getting someone experience and not burning a redshirt.

But if Fields is as good as advertised — and so far there’s no reason to think he’s not — then he won’t be the type of player to stick around for five years. There’s no reason to redshirt him and save that year if he’s likely to leave after his redshirt junior year anyway. Play him, get him experience, don’t save him for 2022 when chances are he won’t be around.

Georgia learned this the hard way with Knowshon Moreno, who left after his redshirt sophomore season. There are exceptions: Aaron Murray redshirted in 2009, then took over and was a four-year starter. D.J. Shockley redshirted in 2001, played behind David Greene for three years and then had his year in 2005. But those went against the norm.

Most teams don’t redshirt anymore, and about half of every quarterback who signs at the college level eventually transfers. It’s why Alabama, when it had Jalen Hurts as a sophomore, still played Tua Tagovailoa as a true freshman. And it was why Fromm was going to play last season, even if Jacob Eason hadn’t been injured.

Georgia has only two scholarship quarterbacks and Stetson Bennett may be a serviceable option. But if Georgia is chasing a championship — and it is the heavy favorite in the SEC East, at a minimum — then it wants Fromm or Fields behind center. And it wants Fields experienced.

Let’s say Georgia tries to redshirt Fields. If Georgia is playing in the SEC Championship Game and Fromm gets hurt, do you take your chances with a walk-on or do you throw Fields out there cold and inexperienced, having never played a college down? No, Georgia wants Fields to be ready, just as Tagovailoa was ready for Alabama.

I get the desire to map out Georgia’s quarterback situation for years to come, but it almost never plays out as expected. Look at Eason last season. My sense is the Fromm-Fields situation will sort itself out. Maybe not as quickly as Eason-Fromm did, but it will sort itself out.

Or maybe that eventually will be a Freezing Cold Take.

Have a question for beat writer Chip Towers? E-mail us at ugaquestionoftheday@gmail.com