COLUMBUS, Ohio — Eddie George, the 1995 Heisman Trophy winner, chatted with Joey Galloway on the sideline. Dwayne Haskins, a Heisman Trophy finalist and a first-round NFL Draft pick-in-waiting, stood a couple of yards close by at midfield. Members of the 2014 nationwide championship group milled across the sideline in entrance of 61,102 at Ohio Stadium, a crowd that will have been a lot larger if not for ongoing development within the higher deck. All have been there for Ohio State’s spring recreation Saturday.
But the focus was Justin Fields, the quarterback who transferred from Georgia this offseason and is predicted to be the subsequent Large Ten factor. Fields felt all of that. Okay.J. Hill, Ohio State’s prime returning receiver, tried to pry a bit of bit from him earlier than the sport began.
“I feel he was a bit of nervous popping out for the spring recreation,” Hill mentioned with a smile. “I requested him and he [was] like, ‘Nah,’ however I do know he was. I really feel like he obtained snug after the primary collection. He began stepping up within the pocket and going via his reads wanting like he had been working towards all spring.”
Fields merely wanted to make an adjustment after the primary two collection during which he missed his solely two move makes an attempt. From there, he guided 4 consecutive TD drives within the Grey group’s 35-17 victory over the Scarlet group and provided a glimpse of a what may very well be a mix of Ohio State’s final two record-setting quarterbacks.
Fields can run like J.T. Barrett, and if he can throw like Haskins, then the Buckeyes might be nationwide championship contenders in 2019. For now, Fields — who completed four of 13 passing for 131 yards and a landing and added six carries for 38 yards and a rating — is tasked with accelerating his development in Ryan Day’s high-powered offense, to the purpose he is listed among the many Heisman Trophy favorites with Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa regardless of a self-awareness that he has no thought how good he might be.
“I am unsure as a result of I do not know the complete playbook but,” Fields mentioned. “The stuff we have now in proper now, I really feel like I’ve a grasp round it.”
This, in fact, was only a spring recreation, however it did not begin out effectively. Fields appeared to injure his hand on the second collection when Taron Vincent hit his arm. Fields returned and arrange a red-zone landing run by Grasp Teague drive together with his first completion, a brief move to Binjimen Victor.
Fields and Victor later connected on the play of the sport, a 98-yard connection on third-and-10 within the ultimate two minutes. Fields lofted a move down the fitting sideline to Victor, who broke free after the catch to the tip zone.
Of us, Justin Fields. pic.twitter.com/j99UYrYiZS
— Eleven Warriors (@11W) April 13, 2019
“His wingspan is one thing loopy,” Discipline mentioned of Victor. “You’ll be able to throw it wherever and he’ll come down with it.”
That was Fields’ press convention afterward — on the identical podium the place Barrett and Haskins fielded questions concerning the beginning job at Ohio State in current seasons. Fields adopted their sample in that regard. He deflected credit score to teammates. He talked about being a greater and simpler vocal group chief. He described the spring as an “up-and-down” course of.
Day, in the meantime, was not able to declare Fields the starter. Matthew Baldwin break up time between the Scarlet and Grey groups. He completed 20 of 36 for 246 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
“I will preserve it,” Day mentioned. “I do not assume proper there we’re going to decide on that. It’ll proceed into the preseason.”
This nonetheless feels just like the Haskins-Joe Burrow dynamic from final season. It will likely be virtually unimaginable to show away from Fields’ playmaking capability, particularly if he continues to be more adept and prolific with it.
Fields led these 4 landing drives in 4 completely different trend. He accomplished a red-zone rating and a deep vertical shot. Fields additionally led a methodical eight-play drive capped by his personal 5-yard landing run. He opened the third quarter with a 30-yard run that arrange one other Teague scoring run. Fields mentioned he is snug with the read-option figuring out he has been doing that since highschool.
“For Justin, he can create on the sting a bit of bit, we did not get an opportunity to see that as a lot,” Day mentioned.
In a managed scrimmage the place the quarterbacks do not get hit, that is sensible. The important thing for Fields, nonetheless, might be continued enchancment within the passing recreation. That’s what took Alabama to the subsequent stage with Tagovailoa and Clemson into one other dimension with Lawrence. Whereas Fields’ progress might be carefully linked with Jake Fromm and Georgia, it is these nationwide championship contenders that Ohio State should shut the hole on whereas additionally sustaining their stranglehold on the Large Ten.
Haskins obtained the Buckeyes shut. Fields might be anticipated to get them nearer. That is not how Fields see it, nonetheless.
“I am not attempting essentially to fill Dwayne’s footwear,” Fields mentioned. “I am simply attempting to come back to Ohio State be the most effective quarterback I can. No matter I can do to assist this group win. I am not anxious about expectations or something like that.”
He is simply attempting to study the remainder of the playbook earlier than fall camp. Fields is working with a stable group of receivers in Hill, Victor, Austin Mack and five-star freshman Garrett Wilson. There may be potential for a couple of extra record-setting seasons with that group.
“Loads of the ideas are the identical, however it’s simply the route-running and little particulars in it,” Fields mentioned. “As soon as I get that totally down, I feel it’ll take me as much as an entire completely different stage, and I can actually begin exhibiting what I can do.”
As for the high-pressure setting, Fields embraced George, Haskins, the nationwide championship group and all these followers.
“That is good for the recruits, simply seeing what number of NFL gamers Ohio State produces,” Fields mentioned. “It was good seeing these guys coming again and supporting (the group). That simply tells you the way a lot they love the fan base and coming round right here.”
Fields seems to grasp that, and that may serve him effectively the subsequent time he walks out of the tunnel at Ohio Stadium.
There might be a minimum of 40,000 extra individuals watching him within the opener in opposition to Florida Atlantic on Aug. 31.