Optimism builds for Justin Fields to be eligible in 2019 at Ohio State

Justin Fields #1 of the Georgia Bulldogs passes against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders on September 15, 2018 at Sanford Stadiuym in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Justin Fields #1 of the Georgia Bulldogs passes against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders on September 15, 2018 at Sanford Stadiuym in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /

Justin Fields is now an Ohio State Buckeye and hopes to be eligible this coming season after transferring from Georgia.

Ohio State has a vacancy at the top of the depth chart at quarterback and Justin Fields is hoping he will be eligible to fill it. The Georgia transfer intends to ask the NCAA for immediate eligibility and he’s got a high-profile attorney working his case.

Thomas Mars helped Shea Patterson and five other former Ole Miss players gain immediate eligibility for the 2018 season, and Fields and Ohio State, are hoping Mars will be able to have the same results for the No. 2 overall recruit behind Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence last year.

Typically, transfers have to sit out one year following their transfer, but if there is egregious behavior at the former school, there could be grounds for granting the transfer’s request for eligibility.

According to ESPN, the case Mars will build for Fields centers on a September incident where a Georgia baseball player used a racial slur to repeatedly refer to Fields at a football game. That baseball player was dismissed from the team, but that could be just one aspect of the case that Mars will use to support Fields’ request to play right away at Ohio State.

A response to Fields’ case is expected to happen in about six weeks which would give new Ohio State head coach Ryan Day plenty of time to adjust his depth chart.

“I think it (Fields’ waiver request) will be approved, especially if there’s more information there,” said Tim Nevius, a former investigator for the NCAA who now represents clients in cases against the organization, via The Dispatch. “They’re going to recognize it’s not something they want to endorse as appropriate behavior and that people should not be subject to that type of environment and should be able to transfer.”

If eligible, Fields will compete with redshirt sophomore Tate Martell, a fellow former five-star recruit, for the starting job with Dwayne Haskins headed to the NFL Draft. Fields had four passing and four rushing touchdowns as Jake Fromm’s backup for Georgia. He’ll have three years of eligibility remaining.

A competition with an eligible Fields and Martell would make for one of the most compelling offseason storylines. Martell was one of the most accomplished high school players ever at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas and will have the benefit of having experience in Day’s offense. He’ll enter spring camp as the starting quarterback regardless if Fields is eligible or not. Martell is talented enough to carry the Ohio State offense and lead them to a Big Ten championship and contend for a berth in the College Football Playoff.

If Fields is ineligible this year, he’ll redshirt, Martell will start, and he’ll crush it on the scout team just like Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield did after they transferred to Oklahoma and had to sit out a year before being eligible.

What could get things really interesting is if Fields is eligible and beats out Martell for the job. This could send ripple effects throughout college football because Martell could decide to transfer at the end of the year and be a coveted free agent.

Ohio State is in a great position because they have two quarterbacks capable of leading the team to the playoff. The first big decision for Day could be determining which of them will get that opportunity for the Buckeyes, depending on what the NCAA’s verdict is on Fields.

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