ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart and his staff have been scrambling at the quarterback position the past week, stepping on toes one day and inadvertently slipping up on Justin Fields’ imminent plans the next.
That’s what happens when you’re on the brink of losing a prized freshman to transfer, in this case class of 2018 recruiting megastar and current backup quarterback deluxe Fields.
RELATED: Justin Fields want to play in Sugar Bowl while looking for program to transfer to
Smart said at the early signing day press conference on Wednesday that the Bulldogs would prefer Fields not transfer, and that they welcome him staying with the team to play in the Sugar Bowl even while he’s shopping himself to other programs.
“His information to us is he’s looking at his options, which is what you do,” Smart said. “From a recruiting perspective, it was challenging for us. Put yourself in the shoes of a kid trying to decide if you want to come to Georgia at quarterback.
“You don’t know if he’s going to be there or not and that makes it tough because you’re not sure. It’s like, he might be there, he might not be there.”
The Bulldogs landed previous Ohio State quarterback commit Dwan Mathis, likely not a coincidence with Fields believed to have the Buckeyes at the top of the list of schools he’s considering transferring to.
Those around Mathis have been under the impression Fields is leaving since being contacted Sunday night.
RELATED: Dwan Mathis believes in Georgia, wants to win titles and learn from Jake Fromm
In discussing how Georgia landed the talented Michigan product, Smart indicated Fields’ future transfer from Athens is sealed.
“We didn’t stay in communication with (Mathis) the whole time from that (July 2017 visit) period of time until finding out Justin was leaving,” Smart said. “So there was a period of time there where there wasn’t communication. But it did fire back up quickly.
“To be honest, there’s been a lot of communication with a lot of quarterbacks across the country when you talk about the University of Georgia and the potential of being the only scholarship guy besides Jake Fromm.”
To be honest, it turns out, Georgia’s communication with Texas A&M signee Zach Calzada led Jimbo Fisher to some harsh words directed at Smart, according to Relatednews.net.
“Some of it is gamesmanship,” Fisher reportedly said Wednesday night, referring to the Bulldogs’ late push for their top quarterback recruit. “Some of it is unnecessary and ridiculous because it is trying to trick a kid. I think you ought to give them the information so they can get their future set.”
Fisher went on with more criticism.
“I’m not a dog-and-pony recruiter,” Fisher said. “I’m not a circus act when we recruit.”
According to the report, Fisher cleared things up for the young quarterback after Georgia’s recruiting contact.
“Yeah, they’re full of bull,” Fisher said somewhat jokingly. “Nah, you go through ’em and you sort ’em out. But it’s good. At the end, though, that’s what it comes out to. Those things aren’t true.”
Smart stood up for his program and the essence of what he’s building at Georgia, to the extent of championing the academics and environment as “a safe, good, wholesome campus.”
Smart’s three recruiting classes have ranked No. 3 (2017), No. 1 (2018) and No. 2 (2019).
To stay on top, more scrambling, slips and stepping on toes is ahead.
“I think it is easier it is for kids to transfer in high school, it’s easy for them to do it in college as well,” Smart said. “It’s going to be more who adjusts to it and who handles it well.
“I’m not the one to sit here and say it’s right or wrong to be able to do it. Our job as coaches to deal with it. It’s the landscape we may now face.”
Georgia football coach Kirby Smart