KENNESAW — Kirby Smart has exhibited some good timing this season. It was impeccably good Thursday night.
The Bulldogs’ second-year head coach was here at Cobleigh Stadium to see his top recruit. He came to visit Harrison quarterback Justin Fields, the No. 1 prospect in America. The fact that he did it via helicopter while ESPN2 aired the Hoyas’ game against Dalton to a national television audience didn’t hurt either.
Actually, Smart didn’t take full advantage. His choppered arrival was away from the view of both the capacity crowd on hand to watch the game and the ESPN cameras. Smart and his entourage were not allowed to land the helicopter on the baseball field right next to the stadium because Harrison recently installed new sod. So they landed on another field behind the school. The assumption was the helicopter would buzz the field afterward on its return to Athens.
It was the first look at Fields for Smart. He probably liked what he saw before Fields sustained an injury to his throwing hand at the end of the third quarter.
Fields ran for a 5-yard touchdown before Smart got there, but then threw a 34-yard touchdown pass as the halftime buzzer sounded to pull Harrison to within 16-14. The play occurred in front of Smart, who spent most of his time posing for pictures with fans.
At the half, Fields had 128 yards on 4-of-8 passing and 110 rushing on 15 carries.
Fields, a senior, has committed to the Bulldogs. He made his pledge to great fanfare two weeks ago.
But clearly Smart is taking no chances on Fields being lured elsewhere. He left Athens shortly after the Bulldogs’ practice concluded on Thursday. No. 3-ranked Georgia (7-0, 4-0 SEC) is off this weekend. The Bulldogs return to the field on Oct. 28 when they face Florida (3-3, 3-2) in Jacksonville.
While Smart’s entrance created quite a commotion, Fields was the main attraction Thursday night. The 6-foot-2.5, 205-pound, dual-threat quarterback was the main reason ESPN2 showed up to televise this game between Harrison (5-2) and Dalton (6-1). While the game had region ramifications, it was Fields the cameras were here to see.
Fields shot up recruiting charts between his junior and senior seasons. Entering the game Thursday, he had completed 93 of 141 passes for 1,503 yards and 20 touchdowns while also rushing for 748 yards and another 14 touchdowns. He also has thrown 2 interceptions.