ATHENS – The dual-threat era of quarterbacks has begun at Georgia. Finally.
Justin Fields, the No. 1-ranked dual-threat quarterback in America and, indeed, the No. 1 prospect period, committed to the University of Georgia at a private announcement ceremony at Harrison High School late Friday morning. Fields chose the Bulldogs over Florida State, Auburn and LSU. In the end, he had more than 40 college scholarship offers.
Fields’ is a fascinating recruiting story. In May 2016, the 6-foot-2½, 220-pound quarterback did not have a Division I scholarship offer. The first one came from North Carolina. In December of last year, he committed to Penn State.
But the Bulldogs moved in hard after that. And the fact that they won out for a 5-star prospect with two underclassmen 5-star quarterbacks already on campus in Jacob Eason and Jake Fromm speaks to both the all-world recruiting ability of coach Kirby Smart and, perhaps more inmportantly, to the opportunities that Fields believes he has at UGA.
Now that he is pledged to the Bulldogs, we know that Georgia is committed to making the shift to a dual-threat style quarterback. This was a point of criticism going back to 2013 when UGA lost out to Clemson on quarterback Deshaun Watson, who had prepped only 40 minutes away at Gainesville High.
And there were concerns heading into this 2018 recruiting class for Georgia. The Bulldogs were thought to have missed out again when the No. 1-ranked quarterback in the country was living in the state of Georgia. At the time that Cartersville’s Trevor Lawrence committed to Clemson, he held the distinction of being the No. 1-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the nation as well as the No. 1-rated overall prospect. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs were also out of the running for Heard County’s Emory Jones, the nation’s No. 3-rated dual-threat quarterback. He was an early pledge to Ohio State.
But Fields, a late bloomer on the recruiting scene, has since overtaken both Lawrence and Jones in the national recruiting rankings. Only time will tell if that distinction is justified, but his decision to go with the Dogs means that UGA is now fully engaged in the national dual-threat movement.
Now what happens?
Well, 5-stars don’t betroth themselves to schools expecting to sit. I have every reason to believe that Fields will be fully involved in Georgia’s quarterback competition. And I would not be surprised if he won it over Eason and Fromm in his first season.
Based on the video I’ve seen and the commentary I’ve heard, I think Fields is the caliber of athlete and student who he could become the Bulldogs’ starter as a freshman. I truly believe that could happen.
The reason I believe it is Fields almost perfectly combines the attributes of both Eason and Fromm. Watch his Hudl highlight tape and you will see a passing arm that has no limits. He throws the ball every bit as hard and far as Eason. At the high school level, at least, he’s doing it with more accuracy.
Meanwhile, Fields has recorded a lasered 40-yard-dash time of 4.51 seconds. He has numerous hand times better than that mark. That means he has the speed of many of the skill players Georgia already has. Imagine the escapability that would afford him on drop-back passes, not to mention the legitimate threat he would be on the zone-read option play.
Fields also comes armed with raw intelligence. He has scored a 29 on the ACT, according to DawgNation’s Jeff Sentell. Now academic intellect is not the same as football intelligence, but they generally go hand-in-hand. So the thought is that he would be able to grasp Georgia’s playbook quickly.
At the very least, I see the Bulldogs creating an offensive package for Fields that they could employ as soon as the first game of his first season next year. Even that threat should give Georgia’s opponents much more to think about.
And once Fields is able to actually to get on the field in a game, all bets are off as to how long he may stay out there. We’ve been witnessing that firsthand with Jake Fromm.
Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, will go down as an extremely good day for UGA football. Retrospectively, it could go down as the day Georgia went from Tailback U to Quarterback U.
Again, it’s going to be a fun thing to watch.