Freshman quarterback Justin Fields has spoken with the Georgia coaching staff about his intention to explore a transfer.
A source with direct knowledge of the situation told DawgNation that Fields spoke to Georgia coaches Monday about the NCAA process and potentially leaving Kirby Smart’s program. USA TODAY first reported Fields’ intentions Monday night.
Fields served as the backup to Jake Fromm this season. The freshman quarterback was the No. 2 player in the country coming out of high school in the 2018 class. Fields is from Kennesaw, and played at Harrison High School. According to USA TODAY, Fields intends to apply for a waiver from the NCAA so he would be immediately eligible. If that waiver is not granted, he will have to sit out a season.
Smart told media at his Monday morning press conference that he had no knowledge of any players intending to transfer or leave early. Georgia officials would not comment Monday night. Members of Fields’ family would not confirm the report.
“I’m not at liberty to discuss anything,” Jo Ann Claudrick Fields said via telephone Monday night when reached by DawgNation. “We’re not confirming or denying anything. We haven’t made a decision.”
In his freshman season, Fields completed 27 of his 39 pass attempts on this season for 328 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 266 rushing yards on the season and four touchdowns. Fields did not start this season, but he played in 12 of the 13 games. In the SEC Championship, Fields executed the ill-fated fake punt on fourth-and-11 in the loss to Alabama.
Fields spoke to reporters after the SEC Championship game. When asked by if he could confirm whether or not he would return to Georgia for his sophomore season, he did not.
“I wanted to play here, I love this school,” Fields said after Georgia’s 35-28 loss about the decision to attend with Jake Fromm the starting quarterback. “I’m not going to let some guy shy me away from that certain school.”
Still, coming to Athens as one of the nation’s top-rated players, Fields was “frustrated,” he said, with how little the coaching staff was using him.
Especially in big games, Fields was used sparingly. Against Missouri, it was a single carry for three yards. The same stat line against LSU. In Jacksonville against the Gators, Fields didn't even see the field. In a top-10 matchup with Kentucky, he only handed the ball off.
Other more experienced players saw that frustration in Fields.
“Justin came in as a top recruit, and your expectation is to play then,” wide receiver Mecole Hardman said after the SEC Championship. “But you got to wait for your time, your turn. … Sometimes you get frustrated, it’s a long season. And we kept his head good.”
If Fields does depart from the team, Fromm will be the team’s only scholarship quarterback. Behind Fromm is walk-on Matthew Downing. Georgia does have a commitment from 2019 quarterback prospect John Rhys Plumlee.
With Fromm starting every game this season, Georgia repeated as SEC East champions and went 11-2. Fromm threw for 27 touchdowns compared to just five interceptions.
Fromm will return to Georgia next season for his junior year but he could decide to forgo his senior season for the NFL draft. This is the second season in a row that a 5-star quarterback has transferred from Georgia, as Jacob Eason transferred from Georgia after last season. Eason sat out this season at Washington.
Georgia or Fields have not released any publicly said anything on the matter. When head coach Kirby Smart spoke with reporters on Monday in preparation for the Sugar Bowl, he said that no player had talked to him about skipping Georgia’s bowl game. The Bulldogs take on Texas on Jan. 1. Fields was at Georgia’s practice on Monday.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.