Unproven Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields ready for hype, expectations

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields throws a pass during NCAA college football practice, Friday, Aug. 2, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Justin Fields knows all about heat. He grew up in Georgia.

But the pressure cooker in which the celebrated prep quarterback now finds himself is about to get turned up.

The pressure is always crushing on anyone who starts at quarterback for Ohio State. But Fields, who transferred from Georgia last winter, is expected to pick up where record-breaking Heisman Trophy candidate and first-round NFL draft pick Dwayne Haskins Jr. left off.

Fields , a 20-year-old sophomore, has never started a college game. He saw only limited playing time in his freshman season, mostly in mop-up duty behind Jake Fromm.

He comes to Ohio State with great expectations and great hype. He was one of the highest-rated high school prospects at any position in 2018. He is said to have nearly the arm that Haskins does but with the speed and elusiveness his predecessor lacks.

New Ohio State coach Ryan Day is the first to note that Fields must still earn the starting job. But that’s really just a formality.

“Physically, he checks all the boxes — running, athleticism, size, power, throwing ability, arm strength, accuracy, intelligence,” Day said. “He has all those things. Now it’s just a matter in August of putting on the field and seeing what kind of product we have.

“But in order to learn, you have to fail,” Day continued. “Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of failing a lot in practice and spending a few years as an understudy. Some of those failures are going to happen in a game, and there’s going to be a lot of deep breaths.”

In the months after spring practice, Fields put in his work. He threw with his receivers nearly every day.

“Right when you come into a new place you can’t just come in and just act like you’re a leader,” he said. “You have to kind of get used to the guys and build relationships with them so they trust you. Then you can step out and become a leader.”

Austin Mack is expected to be one of Fields’ top targets. He also has something to prove after missing the final six games last year with a foot injury. He was hurt in the humiliating loss to unranked Purdue , a defeat that kept the Buckeyes out of the playoffs.

Mack said he and fellow senior receivers K.J. Hill and Binjimen Victor have taken it upon themselves to help the new guy get up to speed.

“He came from Georgia so he came from a good program that’s used to winning,” Mack said. “He’s been there, he knows what it’s like. He just doesn’t know our culture. So the biggest thing for us is to help get him acclimated, get him used to being in that huddle. Like, ‘Hey bro, speak up, you’re good, take control.’”

Fields symbolizes the new normal for college football , with the transfer portal providing a way out for impatient players who don’t want to wait to play.

Tate Martell had been waiting his turn behind Haskins but transferred to Miami after Fields arrived. After spring practice, quarterback Matthew Baldwin left for TCU.

At Georgia, Fields was the target of a racist comment from the stands. That may have helped his argument for immediate NCAA eligibility. Typically, a player has to sit out a season.

He calls the move to Ohio State a “business decision” that allows him to play for Day, who helped develop Haskins into an NFL draft pick.

The backup is expected to be Gunnar Hoak, who played at Kentucky and also came via the transfer portal as a graduate student.

Fields says he’s ready to handle the spotlight. He basked in it as a five-star recruit in high school while taking part in the Netflix documentary series “QB1: Beyond the Lights.”

“You’ve just got to embrace it,” he said. “All this hype and all that, you just got to back it up, not let everything get to your head.”

Buckeye Nation will be waiting. And not so patiently.


More AP college football: HERE and TWITTER.


Follow Mitch Stacy on TWITTER.

Contests & Events


Keep listening to 680 The Fan throughout the Braves season for your chance to win a pair of tickets to see a game at Truist Park! Multiple chances to win EVERY DAY!


Nominate someone who inspires you through acts of kindness or charity to receive a $68 VISA gift card courtesy of Gwinnett Subaru and Georgia’s Own Credit Union! DETAILS HERE!

Win Truist Park

WIN TRUIST PARK! Join the 680 Fan Club and you could win a Truist Park REPLICA for your desk! Enter HERE Today!

Ga Lottery Jackpot Inning 2020

Register now to be a contestant in the GA Lottery Jackpot Inning! If your name is called and one of our Braves hits a homer, you’ll win the day’s Jackpot! No winner? The jackpot rolls over the next day for an even BIGGER PRIZE! Enter to win with The Braves HERE!

No events are currently scheduled.