What does the nation’s top prospect Justin Fields still need to see?
KENNESAW, Ga. — Quarterback Justin Fields, the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect, will need a few more paragraphs on his “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” essay than almost all of his peers.
The Fields Across America summer tour has included Alabama, at least twice; California, twice; Florida, at least four times; Oregon; and Indiana.
That’s not counting any recreational travel.
“I think I’ve slept more nights out of my bed than in my bed this summer,” Fields said. “So that has kind of been hard because I wanted to hang out with my friends a little bit more. But I know that thing sort of comes with this lifestyle if that’s the way you want it. You can take it or leave it.”
He doesn’t mind airports.
Fields said that one of his official visits later this year might even be to a “cool place” he’s always wanted to check out. It might or might not be to one of the schools most associated among his top choices at this time.
DawgNation published a wide-ranging interview with Fields Tuesday evening. The first half of that summation came later that night. I’ve been following him extensively since last October, but still learned a great bit about his future plans from that discussion.
Consider this the third and fourth quarters of that conversation.
The secrecy topic with Justin Fields
There has been a lot of information and misinformation about Fields. The narrative has followed a similar script this summer.
The 5-star QB takes a visit. The program “insiders” and message board chatter rises up that Latest Visit U. now has a choke-hold on Fields for the Class of 2018.
That same tune keeps coming up on shuffle play.
Where is that coming from?
Does Fields choose his words carefully among his fellow recruits? There’s a code there. Most know where their elite peers will eventually go. They keep a lid on those thoughts. That’s to respect that player’s wishes for when he wants his favored school to be known.
His decision is the most sought-after recruiting intel in America right now.
How does Fields police that?
“I would say it is kind of hard,” Fields said. “You kind of just have to select the people and have to know who to trust. And just to trust a select amount of people. You can’t tell everybody your business because eventually, it will get out. You have to build relationships with certain players and certain guys and just tell them. That’s because when you commit to a place you want them to come with you because they are good players.”
Fields told DawgNation he feels his decision could be the tipping point for as many as eight players to join him at the right program. If even half of those players follow him, that’s a substantial amount of pull.
“That’s kind of hard to keep all of that secret,” Fields said.
It still boggles my mind how his stock has soared since last May. That’s when the 5-star from Harrison High School finally received his first offer, that one from North Carolina.
The Justin Fields Q&A: What happened with Florida?
Q. You said no teams are eliminated from your primary group. Is Florida, which just picked up a commit from 5-star QB Matt Corral, now out of it?
A. No, not really. I am kind of just weighing my options. Florida has been doing great the past two years. So they are not totally out of the picture. You’re going to have to compete wherever you go. I’m not afraid to compete. Iron really sharpens iron. At the end of the day, Matt is a really great player, but if I feel if I do go there, we will just make each other better.
Q. Did you ever have a private conversation with Matt to share what one another was thinking? Do players do that?
A. You mean like tell each other where we are going to go?
Q: Yeah. Matt seemed very pro-Georgia at The Opening, and then he abruptly commits to Florida on his first visit to Gainesville. What do you think happened?
A. I kind of thought he wanted to commit to Georgia at The Opening and stuff. But players talk. So at Florida, we were at the camp and talking or whatever and he said he was going to commit to Florida. So I was kind of surprised by that. At first, we kind of didn’t really talk about it. But I think he kind of wanted to go to Georgia. His mind was set on Georgia, but I think after that Florida visit, he quickly started liking Florida a whole lot.
Covering the UGA topics with Justin Fields
Q. How do you look at the chance to play your freshman year at Georgia? Is playing time a factor?
A. “I guess I could be the second-string quarterback at Georgia next year, but that is still kind of iffy. That depends on how Jacob [Eason] does this year. I might be able to get some playing time next year. I guess I’m kind of looking at the season or looking into the season and what happens for Georgia there.”
Q. Has your opinion changed on redshirting or sitting a year?
A. “I think there is a study where most NFL quarterbacks come after a redshirt freshman year. So playing freshman year is not a big deal to me. Of course, I want to play kind of early but waiting one year out and learning the offense and just getting better and gaining that chemistry with my teammates will help me. That is not that big of a deal to me.”
Q. What’s left for you to see or learn about Georgia?
A. Nothing really. I feel like I’ve seen everything at pretty much every school that I’m considering. I’ve really seen everything. Really what is left now is just how the season plays out. Just how the team is doing.
Q. Will a strong or a poor start by the Bulldogs matter to you?
A. I’m not really looking at the wins and losses and how the team plays. My main thing is the quarterback position. That’s the position I play. So say if Jacob Eason gets hurt. Of course, now I don’t want him to get hurt. I don’t want that. He’s a great guy. A great guy. But for example, then in that situation maybe Jake Fromm goes in there and lights it up. Just tears it up. Well, for me then Georgia has kind of solidified their starter. I would have to take a good look at that. Now, I’m not afraid to compete. But I feel like if he has that experience then he would have that edge over me. But if Jacob Eason plays most of the whole season, then Jake Fromm doesn’t have that edge [in playing time] on me at all.
How will he whittle these schools down?
Q. Do you judge these schools by the “pros” that you compile or the “cons” that you find they might have for you? Which column weighs more on the ledger?
A. I kind of weigh both the pros and the cons. I write them down on a piece of paper. At the end of the day, you have to see what is the best fit for you and your family. I would say I don’t look just at the cons or the pros but just weigh both of those factors. My dad and I were talking about that yesterday. Just the pros and the cons of each school.
Q. What do you still need to see from Florida State?
A. I would also say there is nothing there really left to see.
Q. What’s the biggest con for you with Georgia?
A. I would say just them not having the experience playing a [dual-threat] quarterback like me.
Q. What is also the biggest con for you with Florida State?
A. I would say just distance. It is not that far. Just distance. Nothing else aside from that really.
Q. I see a running theme here. You want to see how the guys at Auburn and Florida State and Georgia do this year. You also want to take some official visits. Does this mean you might need to take awhile to evaluate everything? Do you want to be clear so you don’t risk having to de-commit again?
A. I’m not de-committing again. After I commit, I’m not taking any more visits to any other schools. I’m not doing anything or any more of this. I am not communicating with any other colleges. Just to that school. That’s it. I don’t want my head spinning anymore. After I commit, it is over.
— Jeff Sentell (@jeffsentell) June 30, 2017
There have only been about 83,000 or so views of his junior season highlights on Hudl. Why not see for yourself what all of the fuss is about?