ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart said Justin Fields says he wants to play in the Sugar Bowl, even while he’s looking at another school to play at.

“He decided he wanted to play in the Sugar Bowl, and I told him ‘absolutely, we want you there,’ ” Smart said Wednesday night. “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.”

Smart said Georgia would like for Fields to stay, but there’s a reality to him entering his name into the NCAA portal, which enables him to have contact with other schools.

“I don’t think there’s anything you can do (to convince him to stay),” Smart said. “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.”

The No. 5-ranked Bulldogs (11-2) play No. 15 Texas (9-4) at 8:45 p.m. on Jan. 1 in the Sugar Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

RELATED: Georgia QB Jake Fromm sounds off on Sugar Bowl 

The Bulldogs staff has known since at least last weekend that Fields was exploring a transfer.

That knowledge enabled them to flip 4-star quarterback Dwan Mathis from Ohio State to Georgia on Wednesday.

The addition of the prized quarterback from Oak Park, Mich., helped the Bulldogs meet team needs and secure what’s being ranked as the No. 2 class in the nation per the 247sports composite.

Georgia added five new 5-star signees on Wednesday, including early enrollee Clay Webb (center, Oxford, Ala.) who has already taken part in bowl practices.

A source with direct knowledge of the situation said Fields is strongly considering Ohio State, but also has interest in Oklahoma, UCF and UCLA.

RELATED: Frustrated Justin Fields ready to explore leaving UGA

Fields’ decision to discuss leaving Georgia caught many off guard after Smart played him in 12 of 13 games and kept the quarterback competition open each week.

“I can’t be annoyed, the kid is doing what he thinks is best for him,” Smart said. “If he’s going to make a decision, he can’t wait until after the bowl game, because schools starts (Jan. 8).”

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