Want a daily lap through Georgia football recruiting? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. We will preview a high school football game today that’s actually one of the most intriguing matchups in the state this year. 5-star QB Justin Fields will lead Class 6A Harrison against Class 5A defending state champion Rome.
Fields, a major UGA target, will clash with a Rome defensive line flush with prospects that will all play major college football. The biggest recruit from those Wolves will be major UGA target Adam Anderson.
Justin Fields is a great football player. Water is wet.
But is Fields (thinking of former Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green here) who we all think he is? Is he really the nation’s No. 1 overall player for 2018?
Fields — who has already elevated to that spot — gets another chance to show why he deserved that honor on Friday night. Harrison will travel to Rome to face the defending Georgia High School Association Class 5A state champions on Friday night.
The Class 6A Hoyas beat Rome 22-20 to open the 2016 season thanks to a late fumble they scooped on their 2.
The rematch on Friday could command a crowd of approximately 10,000 people.
The crowd will be there to see what Fields can do, but they also will be there to see what a very stout Rome team can prevent him from doing.
Is that possible? Yes, that’s very possible. The two most important elements in football are the quarterback and the guys (read: Pass rushers and pocket crushers) that affect the quarterback.
Rome has more of those than we all now have useless eclipse glasses.
The 5-star Fields will be countered by a 4-star DE (Adam Anderson), a 3-star Tennessee commit at DE (Jamarcus Chatman), a 3-star LSU pledge at DT (Ja’Quon Griffin) and a Navy commit (TJ Cammack) on the Rome front.
That matchup will be a doozy.
The Wolves fumbled on a 2nd-and-goal from the Harrison 2 with about four minutes left. Harrison went on to chew the clock for a 22-20 victory.
Fields bled the remaining 3:50 off the clock by dashing for a pair of first downs with his legs. That’s exactly what the nation’s No. 1 dual-threat QB is supposed to do in that clutch moment.
Can any team stop 5-star Justin Fields?
Fields threw for 213 yards and ran for 100-plus yards in last year’s meeting, but he only completed 46 percent of his passes in that effort.
Give that Rome front a lot of credit for that. Fields only converted 5 of his 14 third-down attempts in a tight game. He did not turn the ball over and also ran the ball 13 times for another 132 yards. He did also add two touchdown passes.
“He pulled off some miracles last year,” Rome coach John Reid said. “He was on the ground once and threw the ball up. Our guys were blitzing the heck out of him and there’s a kid standing there and caught it and went the distance.”
There was another jaw-dropper besides that one.
“He was in ‘No-backs’ and we covered everybody but unfortunately he pulled it and we missed leverage on it and he escaped and got down the sidelines and ran it all the way down for a score.”
Fields has made tremendous strides in his overall game since last fall.
“I’ve watched him on film and he’s good enough to buy some time on even the best of defensive lines,” Reid said. “He wouldn’t be ranked like he is if he wasn’t a great player. But he’s also a tough player. We beat him up last year and he came back at us.”
The aim is to beat Fields up again this year. But to do so carefully.
“We just can’t go hell-bent for leather up the field,” Reid said. “Because you will leave him a gap to run through. You have to keep a guy like that pinned in. Make him beat you throwing it. But he’s also got a great receiver out there, too.”
Fields has gotten a lot better since that meeting. But so has Rome.
The latest thinking with Fields
It is pretty clear that any update on Fields also calls for a reset on his current thinking. That’s not the easiest thing to do now that he’s decided not to grant interviews regarding his recruiting.
So I’ll share what I’m hearing and what I have cobbled together.
- I do think UGA will still eventually earn the commitment from and sign Fields.
- I also feel that decision could come at any time.
- But my best guess is it will most likely come after he’s seen at least a few games in September.
- The two biggest contenders for Fields are still FSU and UGA
Checking in on Rome’s Adam Anderson
DawgNation visited with Anderson last week. It was a treat to watch the Wolves practice.It was a practice that anyone who loves to watch great football and guys getting after it would pay to watch.
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound prospect rates as the nation’s No. 2 OLB for 2018. He was once committed to both UGA and LSU, but wants to be deliberate with what he hopes is his final commitment.
How has he improved heading into his senior season?
“Just a bigger and a stronger kid,” Reid said. “He got to play 15 games last year so that’s a lot of tweaks and tweaking and a lot of film study for us to work with him on. We got a lot of ‘Do this’ and ‘Don’t do that here’ with all of his reps from a year ago. We’re into intricate stuff with him now. Not the easy stuff.”
“We’re into getting him to read the hands of the offensive tackles on pass sets. Before it was, it was a getting him to see the keys for whether it was a pass or a run. He’s much more advanced of a player with his technique than he was last season.”
Anderson said he will very likely make his decision after his senior season. That places a December or January timeline on his next decision.
If Georgia lands a re-commitment here, it would be a dream haul of pass rushers to add him back to the class with current pledges Azeez Ojulair and Caleb Tannor.
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