Georgia suddenly has options.
Things seemed dire not too long ago when it came to recruiting quarterbacks in the class of 2018. All of Georgia's elite options were committed elsewhere, and the coaching staff was searching for sleepers.
Georgia’s fortune certainly has changed.
Georgia now has two five-star options at quarterback who have re-opened their commitment. Harrison’s Justin Fields decommitted from Penn State on June 6, with Georgia being one of the heavy contenders to land him.
On Saturday, Long Beach, California, quarterback Matt Corral backed off of his pledge from USC and holds high regard for Georgia. While Fields is a dual-threat quarterback, Corral is the kind of pro-style passer Georgia has long been accustomed to.
In all likelihood, each quarterback probably has a feel for what the other is thinking. Therefore, if both recruits consider Georgia their top choice, a time line for deciding could be accelerated.
“If Georgia is high for Justin Fields and if Georgia is really high for Matt Corral, both of them are going to know that somehow through somebody,” 247Sports.com recruiting analyst Rusty Mansell said. “One of them will probably want to beat the other to the punch.”
What both prospects are thinking isn’t completely clear.
What is known is that Georgia is among Fields’ top schools. Georgia is also the home-state program, with Fields offering a different skill set to what Georgia has in its quarterback room.
Corral, Mansell said, really enjoyed his recent visit to Athens in April. Starting quarterback Jacob Eason, also a West Coast product from Lake Stevens, Washington, spoke highly of UGA to Corral and gave him plenty to think about with his college decision.
To all of a sudden be in a position to land either of these quarterbacks speaks volumes to the job offensive coordinator Jim Chaney has done on the recruiting trail in recent months.
“To be in both of those very seriously is a really good testament to that staff and Jim Chaney, in particular, to keep Georgia in,” Mansell said. “Truthfully, there are only a handful of guys who would get in a room with Jake Fromm and Jacob Eason and say, ‘I’ll compete.’ ”
Eason is entering his sophomore season and figures to have, at minimum, two more seasons of being Georgia’s starting quarterback. Fromm, a freshman early enrollee from Houston County, is only one year behind Eason and will have every opportunity to succeed Eason in that role.
While Corral likely would be an easy candidate to redshirt in 2018, since he has a similar skill set to Eason and Fromm, Fields potentially would have the best path to early playing time. Georgia can always build a package due to his running threat. Fields would then be able to get some early experience while not taking the reins full-time.
Having quality depth at quarterback has long been important in this game. On any given play, a quarterback could take a hit that knocks him out for a prolonged period of time.
The 2014 Ohio State national championship team proved a great example of this. When Braxton Miller reinjured his shoulder during preseason practice, J.T. Barrett was called upon to lead the Buckeyes. In the regular season finale, Barrett fractured his ankle against Michigan. Third-stringer Cardale Jones then finished the game and led Ohio State to a win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship.
The Jones-led Buckeyes then defeated Alabama and Oregon in the College Football Playoff to win the national title.
The concern for some time was that Georgia would need to strike gold on an overlooked quarterback in the upcoming recruiting class. Now, the Bulldogs have found themselves in an enviable situation.
“That quarterback room is probably going to be at a level never seen at the University of Georgia if they get one of those guys,” Mansell said.