ATHENS — Georgia freshman quarterback Justin Fields has spoken with the Bulldogs coaching staff about his intention to explore a transfer.
A source with direct knowledge of the situation said Fields talked to Georgia on Monday about the NCAA process and potentially leaving Coach Kirby Smart’s program.
Smart told media at his Monday press conference at 11:15 a.m. that he had no knowledge of any players intending to transfer or leave early, but that there were juniors exploring the NFL evaluation process.
Georgia has held three bowl practices since returning from finals, the most recent on Monday afternoon with Fields taking part and looking as sharp as ever in drill work.
Smart has maintained that the quarterback position will remain open for competition — as it was throughout the season.
The source, however, said Fields’ has grown frustrated with his inability to beat out incumbent Jake Fromm.
An immediate transfer would enable Fields to go through spring drills and improve his chances of starting for another team in 2019 provided the NCAA grants him a waiver for immediate eligibility.
According to an ESPN story, Fields is expected to play in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1 with No. 5-ranked Georgia against No. 15 Texas.
That scenario seems less likely with the scrutiny Fields’ transfer has brought in the past 24 hours.
Fields signed with Georgia last year aware he faced a challenge in trying to beat out Jake Fromm.
Fromm led the Bulldogs to the SEC championship as a true freshman en route to a Rose Bowl win over Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma and a near-miss in the national title game over Alabama.
There’s some irony that Fromm entered into a situation similar to Fields the previous year in that he was coming in as Jacob Eason’s backup.
Eason suffered a knee injury on the third series of the 2017 season-opening game against Appalachian State, and Fromm took over from there, ultimately leading to Eason’s transfer to Washington last February.
Smart intended to make sure Fields was prepared to take over for Fromm this season in the event of another injury, and made that clear from the onset.
“Your plan is to say, ‘all right I want the best guy to play,’ ” Smart said in fall camp. “Right now our plan is to get both those guys ready to play. How do we get them ready to play? We give them reps.
“They run a lot of the same plays during the day. It’s not like, ‘Oh, there’s this Justin Fields offense and there’s this Jake Fromm offense.’ We’re not doing that. That’s not fair to Justin. Justin’s a good quarterback. So we’re letting both those guys grow and develop. We learned last year that we don’t know what the future holds at quarterback so we have to have guys ready to play.”
Halfway through fall camp, however, Fields’ father made comments to ESPN related to the Georgia football quarterback situation.
Pablo Fields said at the time that it was “a roll of the dice” if Georgia would bench Fromm in favor of his son in a situation similar to what Alabama faced in the national title game last season.
The fact the father of a player competing for a position did an outside interview at all was a red flag.
Smart did what he could to play it off at the time while making it clear he didn’t approve.
“It’s the same with most parents, we try to have a policy on our team that everything that happens within our family stays within our family,” Smart said. “We ask our players to deal with the media in the right direction and we have one voice on this team, and that’s my voice.”
There are many voices currently discussing the Fields transfer, and the talk doesn’t figure to die down until there’s a resolution.
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