ATHENS – Fascinating. That’s how I would describe Georgia’s quarterback situation this season. I’d think that’s how anyone would describe it.
And you know what? It’s about to become even more compelling.
Jake Fromm and Jacob Eason already had us on the edge of our seats waiting to see who might end up as the starting QB du jour. That has provided a great subplot for an already-exciting football season.
But before we could even get to Music City this Saturday to see where the Bulldogs were going to take this quarterback thing this week, along comes yet another twist.
That twist has a name. It is Justin Fields.
All indications are that Fields is going to commit to the Bulldogs sometime late this morning. The 5-star quarterback is going to make his announcement at Harrison High around 10:45 a.m. today. DawgNation will be there, of course.
If that comes to pass, as our resident expert Jeff Sentell and many other recruitniks expect, Georgia coach Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs will have hit the quarterback jackpot — as in 5, 5, 5. Fields would be the third consecutive 5-star quarterback to ink with UGA.
I can’t tell you how often that has happened in college football, but I’m guessing not much. This caliber of quarterbacks usually doesn’t follow each other around.
- Eason was a consensus 5-star prospect when he signed with the Bulldogs out of Lake Stevens, Wash., in December of 2015. His recruiting profile said he was the No. 5 overall recruit in America, the No. 2 pro-style quarterback and the No. 1 player in the state of Washington. Georgia went to considerable trouble to get Eason, who maintained his pledge despite the departures of offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and Mark Richt.
- Fromm was considered a 5-star prospect by Rivals, Scout and PrepStar Magazine when he signed with UGA last December. His recruiting composite rated him the 44th-ranked prospect in America, the No. 3 pro-style quarterback and the No. 4 player in Georgia. Smart flipped him after having him committed to Alabama as Nick Saban’s assistant.
- Fields is a consensus 5-start prospect. In fact, his recruiting profile is as good as it gets. All 1s across, as in No. 1 player in the country, No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the country and, of course, the No. 1 player in Georgia. He was scheduled to make an official visit to Florida State this weekend but reportedly has canceled.
Hey, we can quibble all day and night about recruiting rankings and evaluations. The bottom line, if you’re commanding 5 stars from more than one source, you’re probably a decent player. At the least, you’re a popular one among college coaches.
Suffice it to say that landing three 5-star quarterbacks in a row is unprecedented at Georgia.
For what it’s worth, right now the Bulldogs’ offense is in the hands of their lowest-rated quarterback. Fromm is doing a pretty good job nonetheless. Since Eason went down with the sprained knee in the first quarter of the first game, Fromm led Georgia to victory in that game and then the next four. Included therein was a pair of road wins and two Top 25 showdowns. Through five games he’s completing 59.5 percent of his passes for 734 yards and 8 TDs with 2 interceptions.
Increasingly, though, we’ve been left to wonder what will happen when Eason gets back to 100 percent. Indications are he’s not there yet, but he’s close. The 6-foot-5, 235-pound sophomore handled mop-up duty for the Bulldogs in their 41-0 win over Tennessee last week. He has completed one pass for four yards in two games.
Smart is keeping his plans under wraps. But logic would dictate that Eason would get a little more work this week. I’m guessing he’s being told by Georgia coaches they’ll try to get him in during the first half against Vanderbilt, but score and situation will likely dictate that.
Regardless, the narrative will continue into the next week and beyond. When Eason is fully recovered, we can only assume the quarterback competition – which he won over the nine months leading into the season – will fully resume at that point.
So the Houston County Hero versus the West Coast Slinger storyline will continue through this season and likely into the next. We presume anyway.
I certainly don’t know the ins and outs of Fields’ specific recruitment, other than Florida State and Auburn were the teams Georgia had to beat. But I know enough about recruiting in general to be certain that a 5-star prospect who carries a No. 1-across-the-board rating is not being told by the Bulldogs’ coaches, “sign with UGA and come sit behind Fromm and Eason for a couple of years, then we’ll see if you’re ready to play.”
No, the pitch the 6-2½, 220-pound athlete with 4.5-second speed is, come to Georgia you’ll be given every opportunity to win the starting job through competition.” And even if Fields couldn’t or didn’t, I would imagine the Bulldogs would have a special dual-threat package for him that they could unleash whenever circumstances required it.
Then there’s the question that’s surely on everybody’s minds this morning. Will the odd man out in this year’s quarterback competition ultimately decide to transfer out based on this latest development? While Georgia’s tailback depth has been useful and fun to watch this season, it will be extraordinarily hard if not impossible to keep three 5-star quarterbacks happy.
Well, we’re probably going to have to let this season’s script get written first. After all, nobody foresaw a first-quarter, first-game scenario for Fromm coming into this year. And who knows what the future holds with still seven games to go just to get through the regular season. I’m still of the mind that if Georgia keeps winning, then Fromm should keep starting. At least and until things start going South.
But we do know we want to stick around and see how this one ends.