COLUMBUS — On Monday, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day announced that sophomore transfer Justin Fields will be taking the first snap at quarterback for the Buckeyes in the home opener against Florida Atlantic University later this month. Fields beat out Kentucky graduate transfer Gunnar Hoak as well as senior Chris Chugunov to win the starting job.
Fields began separating himself after the first week of fall camp following a brief acclimation period.
While it may not have come as much of a surprise, Fields understands the significance of being the starting quarterback at Ohio State and he was thrilled to learn of the news.
“Of course I was excited,” Fields said. “I just want to thank all of the other quarterbacks in the room, Coach [Mike] Yurcich, Corey [Dennis], Coach Day for helping me out, and all of my teammates for getting me to the point where I’m at now. So, it’s a great honor being named the starting quarterback at such a prestigious university. So, I’m definitely excited.”
Day said that he talked to the quarterbacks individually one day last week, and then spoke to them again as a unit on Monday morning to make the announcement.
“As you get to know Justin, he takes it all in stride, doesn’t get too high, too low,” Day said. “I think he knows it’s an opportunity. Now he has to go run with it. I think he envisioned himself being the starter.”
While Fields said he had been taking most of the reps with the ones throughout fall camp, becoming the starter was not the only thing on his mind.
“Me as a person, I wasn’t worried about (being) the starter going through practices. I was just worried about getting better every day,” he said. “So, of course it is an honor and I’m definitely happy about being officially named the starter, but it really wasn’t on my mind every day.”
When Fields learned of the news, he said it was a blessing to make it official, but he knew there was still work to be done.
“We talked about it earlier today and [Day] just said there are a lot of expectations for it,” he said. “Of course, I know that and he just said I was the starting quarterback pretty much. There wasn’t much to add about that. But he said keep doing what I’m doing and keep improving every day.”
Day thinks that while there will still be growing pains, Fields is mentally prepared to step into the spotlight as the starting quarterback.
“He always envisioned himself at a school where he’s going to be in a high-profile position,” Day said. “He was on that QB1 show. He’s been a high-profile recruit. I think he understands what the limelight means. I think he’s always prepared for that. I don’t think this is something that hit on him the last couple months. I think he’s always been ready for the spotlight.”
Day said that the announcement of the starting quarterback really only meant that Fields will be taking the first snap come August 31st. From there, he doesn’t know what will transpire.
In terms of keeping the starting job moving forward from the first game, Fields said that his mindset doesn’t change knowing that he will still have to continue to earn the starting job.
“Just going out there and doing my job and just leading the team and doing whatever the team needs me to, to help win,” he said. “So, just going out there and taking care of the ball, making smart decisions, that’s kind of my mindset going out there.”