The news that Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Justin Fields, who was the 247Sports Composite No. 2 overall player in the class of 2018, would transfer out of Georgia sent shockwaves across the college football world.
The former five-star recruit has a bevy of suitors on the transfer market, but one report on Tuesday suggested that the Ohio State Buckeyes are the front-runner to land Fields. A primary reason for that would be new Ohio State head coach Ryan Day, whose work with Buckeyes quarterback Dwayne Haskins resulted in a third-place finish in the 2018 Heisman Trophy race.
But what if Ohio State was to miss out on Fields? A report from Yahoo! Sports says Day and the Buckeyes could then consider a run at Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts or Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Brandon Wimbush.
Neither Hurts or Wimbush has officially announced plans to transfer yet, but both former starters would be eligible to play immediately as graduate transfers. Fields, although just a rising sophomore, is also seeking immediately eligibility without having to sit out for a season. The Bulldogs quarterback has reportedly retained the services of attorney Thomas Mars, who will likely argue for a waiver from the NCAA on Fields’ behalf. Mars worked with Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson and helped him earn a win with the NCAA this season in Ann Arbor after transferring from Ole Miss.
Fields’ case for immediately eligibility would stem from an incident during the season, when former Georgia baseball player Adam Sasser hurled racial slurs at the dual-threat quarterback during a game against the Tennessee Volunteers. Sasser was dismissed from the team the following week.
Fields could claim under NCAA transfer rules a “mitigating circumstance” that directly impacts his “health, safety and well-being” as one way to obtain the transfer. He also could claim that he’s pondering playing baseball in college, as Fields was considered a high-end prospect in high school. While Fields hasn’t publicly expressed significant recent interest in playing baseball for UGA, he was considered a draftable MLB player. (His sister plays softball for Georgia.) That incident would give Mars fodder to argue that Fields would be uncomfortable playing baseball at Georgia, and perhaps bolster an argument for immediate eligibility elsewhere. He may not need the baseball argument. Regardless, hard to bet against Mars, especially given the sensitivity surrounding the circumstances.
While they would only have one season left, Ohio State would certainly be pleased with Hurts or Wimbush as a fallback plan. Hurts, who graduated from Alabama last week, was ranked as the 247Sports Composite No. 4 dual-threat quarterback in the class of 2016 before winning the starting job as a freshman. Hurts went 26-2 as the starter for Alabama, but he was replaced in the second half of last season’s national title game by Tua Tagovailoa, who started all 13 of the Crimson Tide’s games so far in the 2018 campaign.
Wimbush, also a former 247Sports Composite four-star recruit, started the last two seasons under center for Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly. The coach made the change to Ian Book as the starter in Week 4 against Wake Forest. Wimbush was relegated to a reserve role for the Fighting Irish, which went 12-0 and earned a College Football Playoff berth.
Behind Haskins, Ohio State’s collection of current quarterbacks on roster includes redshirt freshman Tate Martell, true freshman Matthew Baldwin, West Virginia graduate transfer Chris Chugunov and a pair of walk-ons. Ohio State is also expected to sign 247Sports Composite class of 2019 four-star quarterback Dwan Mathis, a pro-style prospect that pledged his commitment to the Buckeyes in June.