Bulldogs’ Justin Fields talks after loss to Alabama
Justin Fields is on the transfer market.
A report of the freshman’s intentions was first released by Dan Wolken of USA Today Sports, and Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart confirmed that Fields was in the NCAA Transfer Portal during his press conference Wednesday.
Fields served as Georgia’s backup quarterback during an 11-2 campaign, but played significantly as a formerly heralded five-star prospect.
“He’s looking at his options,” Smart said. “His information to us is, ‘I’m looking at my options,’ which is what you do when you go into the portal, which we all know he’s in. That’s the extent of the conversation we’ve had.”
Smart did confirm that Fields was still practicing with the team as it prepares for a Sugar Bowl matchup with Texas. He said Fields decided he wanted to play in New Orleans, and that he and his staff have been “very open and honest that we would like (Fields) to stay.”
Georgia’s usage of Fields wasn’t consistent throughout the season. He would come in for one snap before being replaced at times. On other occasions, he would receive a substantial workload and play up to a full quarter without facing substitution.
Due to those variabilities, the chatter began to circulate around the potential move as Georgia prepared for the SEC Championship against Alabama. After the 35-28 loss, the freshman deferred the question of a possible departure.
“The season’s not over,” Fields said on Dec. 1. “We still have more games. I’m focused on this team, that’s it.”
Fields could obtain an NCAA hardship waiver at the conclusion of the season in order to bypass the required season of ineligibility due to undergraduate transfer policy. Georgia received a waiver on wide receiver Demetris Robertson prior to this season after his transfer from Cal. Robertson was granted a medical redshirt at Cal in 2017, and played just two games that season.
Fields’ bout with tribulation came in Georgia’s game against Tennessee. Adam Sasser, a former Georgia baseball player who has since been dismissed from the program, was accused of making a racial remark towards Fields in the latter stages of the Bulldogs’ win.
“It’s really unacceptable behavior and not who we are at Georgia,” Smart said on Oct. 2. “We’re trying to build a program on tolerance and mutual respect. … I’ve addressed it with Justin and that’s the most important thing.”
Fields recorded 328 passing yards and four touchdowns in 12 games -- his only absence being against Florida on Oct. 27. He added 266 rushing yards and four touchdowns with his dual-threat capabilities.
Throughout the season, Fields and sophomore starting quarterback Jake Fromm seemed content with the interchange at the position.
“Jake Fromm and Justin Fields are two huge Georgia fans that love Georgia,” Smart said on Oct. 1. “They love their teammates and want what’s best for the team. They’re very good competitors and I don’t think they’d be where they are if not competitors.”
Added Fields after the SEC Championship: “I accepted the role and wanted it for the team -- no matter if Jake was in or I was in. I learned from Jake.”
In the 2019 class, Georgia has a commitment from Oak Grove (Miss.) four-star John Rhys Plumlee and added a signee in four-star Dwan Mathis.
Mathis is a four-star out of Oak Park (Mich.) High School. He was previously committed to Ohio State.
Smart was asked about his staff’s contact with Mathis Wednesday. His response was different than his initial answer regarding Fields’ status.
“We didn’t stay in contact (with Mathis) the whole time,” Smart said Wednesday. “from (the beginning of his recruitment) until finding out Justin was leaving.”
Georgia has had a former five-star quarterback transfer in two consecutive years. Jacob Eason left the Bulldogs after last season to transfer to Washington. Based on the 247Sports’ composite rankings, a top-2 quarterback in each recruiting class since 2010 ended up transferring.