UGA recruiting: 5-star QB Justin Fields shares a few thoughts on his de-commitment
Want a daily lap through Georgia football recruiting? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. We’ll cover the news and what an elite prospect like 5-star QB Justin Fields is thinking, plus add some perspective to help fans figure out what it all means.
Kirby Smart sent Justin Fields a text message on Christmas Day last year. That was when he was committed to Penn State.
“He wished my family a Merry Christmas,” Fields said.
A Christmas Day message to a prospect that was committed elsewhere. That says something about the relationships that Smart always builds with recruits he gets to know. It also should convey how much Fields means to the Class of 2018 in Athens. That becomes even more important now after the Harrison High standout backed off his pledge to Penn State this week.
Why did he de-commit?
“I had doubts about whether I made the right decision, and I think opening up my recruitment publicly and taking a fresh look at my options will remove any doubts,” Fields told DawgNation on Wednesday.
There is no new timeline. No set visit plan in place. Why? Think for a second about the person you know with the busiest travel plans this summer. It seems likely that Fields has them beat.
He has obligations to his Harrison High football team that involve weight workouts and 7-on-7 events. Then there’s his work on Cam Newton’s elite 7-on-7 travel team.
Now mix in all the all-star events he will attend. Fields just got back from the Elite 11 QB derby in California. There are two other elite national prospect camps he will attend.
There are also his responsibilities to the baseball team at Harrison High. Fields is a skilled shortstop who will draw scouting attention.
“I’m really busy this summer,” Fields said. “Fitting in visits between Cam Newton 7-on-7, Harrison 7-on-7, Rivals (The 5-star Challenge) and The Opening Elite 11 will be tough. I’ll sit down with my parents and discuss it.”
If you’re counting the frequent flier miles, that’s at least Florida, California, Indiana and Oregon. Those trips all will take place just in the month of June.
The IMG National 7-on-7 event takes place next weekend in Central Florida. If he has a morning or afternoon to spare, a trip to check out Florida in Gainesville might be possible on the way there or the way back. Florida State is also logical, too.
Does Georgia have a chance?
Yes. I think the Bulldogs do. They really do. Because that text message is what I think about when that question comes my way.
It is a popular question and will be until Fields had made his final decision. It is his home-state school. Fields grew up a fan of the program. His sister, Jaiden, already has committed to play softball for the Bulldogs in the Class of 2019.
Georgia also offered Fields last year on Nov. 18. Penn State, the school he just de-committed from, beat the Bulldogs to the table with an offer by about three months.
The other big contenders for Fields offered him this year. Auburn reportedly offered Fields on April 29. Alabama offered on Feb. 1. Florida offered on Feb. 21. Florida State reportedly offered on April 12.
Give Auburn some bonus points, though. Chip Lindsey, the school’s new offensive coordinator, offered Fields last September when he was coaching at Arizona State. That can only help.
Those sort of connections usually help to build relationships. To enhance a fit and a familiarity at a school.
But Fields told DawgNation earlier this year that none of that likely will matter.
“I don’t really take it as a factor as to when schools started recruiting me at all,” Fields said. “I just go visit a school and check out the academics, check out the fit and all that good stuff.”
Did the heavy interest from all these schools spark his de-commitment?
“Not really,” he said. “I had a lot of interest from other schools when I committed.”
The location of each school could be a factor. Google Maps notes it is at least a 12-hour drive and 775 miles from Harrison High School in Metro Atlanta to Happy Valley.
Were there any other factors that influenced him to reopen his recruiting?
“Nothing else,” Fields said. “I just want to be certain that I’m making the best decision I possibly can.”
It hasn’t just been Smart contacting him from the Bulldogs. Ace recruiter Dell McGee has red-lined his effort making sure Fields knows he is a priority. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney has been very active. So has one of Georgia’s most effective natural recruiters in receivers coach James Coley.
Fields described it as the Bulldogs keeping the “pedal on the metal” in their approach.
Don’t overlook the family factor here.
I can go back to several interviews I had with Fields both before and after his decision. The following threads are consistent.
His father, Ivant Fields, will be a crucial sounding board for his ultimate decision. The decision will be left to him, but it will be properly vetted by his family.
“My base decision is what my family wants for me and what I want, too,” Fields said earlier this year.
Don’t look for this to overwhelm him. The attention is something he has always worked for.
“It definitely has my mind spinning with all these schools coming at me,” Fields said on May 19. “But this is a great feeling, seeing all this hard work pay off. It is great to see all these colleges coming for me. It is really what I have always wanted.”