Justin Fields intends to transfer from Georgia, and it was immediately reported Ohio State is the most likely destination for his services. Turns out, the train is already far enough down the tracks that Dwayne Haskins told The Athletic that Fields has reached out to inquire about what it’s like to be a Buckeye.
This would obviously be a good thing for Ohio State. Fields was the No. 2 player in the Class of 2018, and is petitioning to be granted immediate eligibility in 2019. Every single program in the country would rather have Fields than not.
But that doesn’t mean it would be an easy thing for Ohio State. With Haskins expected to declare for the NFL draft after Tuesday’s Rose Bowl, Fields would still be leaving one quarterback room crowded with highly-recruited players for another — and one of those players is not ready to hand the baton to Fields without a fight. In an interview with The Athletic, Ohio State backup quarterback Tate Martell said this:
“Why would I leave for someone who hasn’t put a single second into this program?” Martell asked. “I have put two years of literally working my ass into something that I’ve been waiting for and a dream I’ve had my whole life. To just run away from somebody who hasn’t put in a single second in at winter workouts and doesn’t know what the program is all about? There’s not a chance.”
A 4-star recruit out of Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman High School, Martell redshirted in 2017 and has carved out a role as Haskins’ backup this fall. Playing in a specially-designed short yardage and goal line package in addition to mop up duty, Martell has completed 23-of-28 passes for 269 yards and a touchdown while rushing 22 times for 128 yards and two scores.
But it’s more than just that. Martell thinks his incumbency advantage is real due to the complicated nature of Ryan Day‘s offense. “I was talking to Dwayne and he’s like, ‘Well, it took me over a year before I even felt comfortable on the field,’ and I felt the same way,” Martell told the site. “Now, almost two years into it, I know what I am doing and I’m on point with everything I do. I’m ready to start.”
To beat out Martell, Fields would have to master an offense in eight months what Martell would have lived in for three years by the time of Ohio State’s 2019 opener. Martell thinks he would win that fight.
The offensive side of Nick Saban‘s Alabama coaching staff has been ravaged by poaching over the past few weeks. As of Wednesday night, it appears the defensive side won’t go unscathed this offseason either.
According to Matt Zenitz of al.com, Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi interviewed for a job with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns this week. Zenitz didn’t specify for what position Lupoi interviewed with the Browns, which officially filled its defensive coordinator position earlier this week.
However, a subsequent report not only identified the position for which Lupoi interviewed, but that the erstwhile Tide coordinator has accepted the job.
Lupoi, one of the best recruiters in the sport, has spent the past five seasons on Saban’s staff. After serving as a defensive analyst his first two years, he was the Tide’s outside linebackers coach in 2016 before taking over as coordinator for Jeremy Pruitt, who left to take the head job at rival Tennessee.
Prior to Alabama, Lupoi was the defensive line coach at Washington (2012-13) and Cal (2008-11).
The Browns recently named Freddie Kitchens as its latest head football coach. Kitchens, for those of you who don’t remember, was a three-year starter at quarterback for Alabama in the mid-nineties.
Saban, for those of you who don’t remember, was the defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns from 1991-94 under Bill Belichick before taking the head job at Michigan State.
Mike Locksley is turning to a former head coach to become his first offensive coordinator at Maryland.
As first reported by InsideMDSports, the new Terps OC will be none other than former East Carolina head coach Scottie Montgomery. The move by Locksley comes a few days after fellow former Alabama assistant Josh Gattis reportedly spurned Maryland to take the same job at Michigan.
Montgomery’s track record as an assistant is certainly a bit better than what he did with the Pirates after going 9-26 overall in three seasons in charge of the program. While ECU’s offense did put up some impressive numbers at times (as well as produce players like Gardner Minshew II before he transferred to Washington State), Montgomery is probably best known for his work on the Duke staff under David Cutcliffe.
The 40-year-old started out as a wide receivers coach at his alma mater before eventually becoming OC of the Blue Devils, with a short stint in the NFL mixed in.
The good news for Locklsey and Montgomery is that they do have talent to work with in College Park even after missing out on grad transfer QB Jalen Hurts. The Terps are set to return both Tyrrell Pigrome and potentially Kasim Hill at quarterback as well as a slew of speedy backs and receivers.
It only took a few hours of getting thrown under the bus by fans and the national media, but cooler heads have prevailed in Norman.
Not long after it surfaced that graduate transfer Austin Kendall was being blocked by Oklahoma from being immediately eligible at West Virginia in 2019, USA Today reports that the Sooners have relented and the quarterback will indeed be able to play right away with the Mountaineers.
Kendall arrived at OU as part of the class of 2016 and saw limited playing time behind back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners at his position in Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield. While it’s possible he could have stuck around to be the starter for the team in 2019, former Alabama starter Jalen Hurts announcing he was transferring in as a graduate transfer earlier on Wednesday all but put an end to that line of thought.
The reversal from Lincoln Riley and Oklahoma’s athletic department shows once again that schools have little to gain by even threatening to block a player from transferring. At some point a college football program will learn that it invites nothing but bad press in the short term over somebody who is leaving town anyway. At least everybody came to that same conclusion this time around before Kendall and his family had to call up a lawyer or two to reach the same end point.
Oh and by the way, Kendall will be back in Norman with the Mountaineers on October 19 during the upcoming season for what figures to be a Big 12 game with more than the usual on-field storylines coming in.
The calendar says January and the national title game was just last week but it’s never too early to start thinking about spring football around the college landscape.
The folks at Iowa State certainly are.
In a release from the school issued on Wednesday, the Cyclones confirmed that they would not be playing a spring game in 2019 and will now go two years between any potential showcases to cap off their prescribed 15 practices.
“As a result of the uncertain weather conditions we face each spring in Iowa, plus the site preparation work that will begin this Spring for the new Sports Performance Center project, Coach Campbell and I have decided to not schedule a spring football game,” Iowa State Athletics Director Jamie Pollard said in a statement. “Similar to last year, Coach Campbell and his staff can use that day to conduct a 15th spring practice which they feel is more beneficial for the overall development of the student-athletes and the football program.”
Though there are indeed plenty of reasons why a program might join the growing trend of skipping out on playing a spring game, it’s certainly disappointing for many ISU fans to go two years without being able to see their team in action and what new faces might end up contributing in the fall. Weather concerns are nothing new in Ames though, as an actual non-conference game in 2018 was cancelled and replaced with an FCS foe in December, to say nothing of last year’s spring game getting called off due to the elements.