CHICAGO – When Ohio State Head Coach Ryan Day added former Georgia quarterback Justin Fields from the transfer portal in February, all assumptions were that Fields was going to be the guy and would become the starting quarterback at Ohio State, contingent on his NCAA hardship waiver being approved.
The question now becomes is that if that was the case then why hasn’t he been named the starting quarterback yet?
Fields, a 5-star quarterback, No. 2 overall in the 2018 class, was one of the highest-ranked quarterbacks Ohio State has ever had and he came to OSU in its time of need, just as the Buckeyes were losing three scholarships quarterbacks from the 2018 quarterback room.
On January 7, Dwayne Haskins announced he was entering the NFL Draft. On January 10, Tate Martell’s name appeared in the transfer portal and he transferred to the University of Miami just six days later. Fields announced his transfer to Ohio State on January 4 and his immediate eligibility was approved on February 8th. In April, after competing with Fields for the starting job, Matthew Baldwin announced he was leaving Ohio State and put his name in the transfer portal.
At one point in time, Fields was the only option for Ohio State as it was just him and graduate transfer Chris Chugunov on scholarship in the quarterback room.
Although on April 27, Kentucky graduate quarterback Gunnar Hoak announced his transfer to the Buckeyes. The assumption has still been that Fields will be the starting quarterback for Ohio State this fall. But Day said that he will not just be given that role, no matter his pedigree.
“One of our core philosophies is that you don’t just get given the starting position, you have to earn everything you get around here and he hasn’t done that,” Day said.
“I think the hard thing for everybody to realize is that he’s coming off of the heels of Dwayne Haskins. So I know a lot of people think Dwayne went from 0-60 so fast and he just kind of jumped into the Heisman Trophy race and that all happened well that was a very different scenario than Justin Fields,” Day said.
“So Justin hasn’t won the job yet, I mean that’s the first step in all of this. I know everybody wants to get way ahead of themselves and start talking about the Heisman, but how about win the starting quarterback job first? You can’t win the job when you’re still learning the offense.”
Day said that Fields is a step ahead of Hoak in terms of learning the offense because Hoak just got to Columbus and didn’t get to go through a spring with the Buckeyes, but the two will still be competing when camp opens on August 2.
“August is going to be one of those times where we have to move,” Day said. “We have to take big steps forward. The first time we play in that first game the quarterback is going to be throwing his first pass and then his first touchdown pass. All of the things are for the first time.”
No matter what, Day will have a new quarterback this season. He said he would like to name a starter in the second week of fall camp, but he doesn’t know exactly what things will look like just yet.