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Quarterback Justin Fields is reportedly leaving Georgia after just one season.
Rumors have swirled in recent days about whether Fields would return to Georgia next fall. And according to USA Today’s Dan Wolken, Fields indeed has informed UGA of his intention to transfer from the program.
According to UGASports.com, Fields told the coaching staff that he is looking into exploring a transfer after the season and had asked to have his name put into the new NCAA transfer database. The site reported Tuesday afternoon that Fields’ name was in the database.
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New NCAA rules mandate that a school place a student-athlete’s name into the database within two business days of a player informing the school of his or her intent to transfer. Coaches from other schools can recruit the athlete once his or her name appears in the database. Being put into the database does not guarantee that a transfer will take place, but it gives the student-athlete the chance to test the waters and see what options are available.
When reached by the Atlanta Journal Constitution Monday night, Fields’ stepmother would not confirm or deny that Justin is leaving Georgia.
“I’m not at liberty to discuss anything,” Jo Ann Claudrick Fields said via telephone Monday night. “We’re not confirming or denying anything. We haven’t made a decision.”
Elsewhere, ESPN.com is reporting that Fields is “exploring the possibility” of transferring, but “hasn’t yet told the coaching staff” that he’s definitively leaving. Both ESPN and UGASports.com are reporting that Fields is “expected” to play in the Sugar Bowl.
Fields was the No. 2 recruit in the country last year
Fields was Rivals.com’s No. 2 recruit in the 2018 class (behind Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence) coming out of Kennesaw, Georgia, but never had much of an impact for the Bulldogs with sophomore Jake Fromm entrenched as the starter. Fields saw the field in 12 games, but struggled to find a consistent role with sporadic playing time as the season progressed.
In all, Fields — who was present at UGA’s practice on Monday — completed 27-of-39 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 266 yards and four more scores.
Most notably, Georgia snapped the ball to Fields on an ill-advised fake punt in the fourth quarter of the SEC Championship Game with the game tied. Alabama sniffed it out to set up great field position for the winning score.
The loss to Alabama kept Georgia out of the College Football Playoff. Instead, the fifth-ranked Bulldogs will play No. 15 Texas in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day.
Fields will be a coveted transfer; immediately eligible?
With Fromm returning for at least one more season (he is an NFL prospect), Fields would have likely had to endure another season as a backup before taking the reins as starter in 2020. Now, he will apparently pursue a transfer.
Fields, who was verbally committed to Penn State before signing with the in-state Bulldogs, will have no shortage of suitors.
Interestingly, according to Wolken, Fields is “expected to appeal the NCAA” for immediate eligibility in 2019. Though the NCAA has gotten much more lenient with waivers for transfers in recent years, a player is ordinarily required to sit out a season at his next school to satisfy NCAA transfer requirements.
Back in October, Georgia baseball player Adam Sasser was dismissed after directing racial slurs toward Fields while attending UGA’s game against Tennessee. According to UGASports.com, Fields “may cite” that incident “as grounds for immediate eligibility at another school.” Wolken suggested the same.
A separate UGASports.com report says the Fields family “is expected to consult with” attorney Thomas Mars to assist with the appeal. Mars helped several ex-Ole Miss players, including QB Shea Patterson (Michigan), become immediately eligible at new schools.
Fields would be second 5-star QB to leave Georgia this year
Fields is the second five-star quarterback to transfer out of Georgia this year. Jacob Eason, a 2016 prospect, transferred to Washington.
Eason, who is from Lake Stevens, Washington, started as a true freshman in 2016 but was injured in Week 1 of the 2017 season. The injury opened the door for Fromm, who never relinquished the role even when Eason was healthy. Now, with Jake Browning graduating, Eason is projected to take over the starting role for Chris Petersen next year.
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