Last week saw Ohio State receive some well-received news in Columbus when quarterback transfer Justin Fields was granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA. Of course, Fields is hardly alone this year in receiving immediate eligibility from the NCAA, and there could still be more on the way. According to a report from 247 Sports, a total of 51 out of 64 players appealing for immediate eligibility form the NCAA have won their appeal.
The data for those figures may be adjusted quickly as more players hope to receive immediate eligibility from the NCAA after switching schools; the rules have been relaxed to be more player-friendly. Among those names include Miami quarterback Tate Martell and Texas wide receiver Bru McCoy. Martell transferred to Miami from Ohio State after Fields made his way from Georgia to Ohio State. His appeal for eligibility this fall would seemingly be more groundbreaking than the Fields situation considering the backstory for Fields leaving Georgia and Martell simply looking for a better chance to be the starter on the field. If Martell is given a chance to play this fall, it would be evidence that the system has definitely changed the game in college football. It would open the doors to as close to free agency as possible, a growing concern for many as more and more players seem to be transferring earlier and earlier in their college careers.
Take McCoy for another example. McCoy has yet to play a single down of college football but has already transferred from USC to Texas just in the last couple of months after committing to the Trojans in the most recent recruiting cycle. After USC lost offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury to a head coaching job in the NFL, McCoy decided he would look for another place to play football shortly after signing with USC in the early signing period. McCoy signed with Texas but technically falls under the category of a transferring player. It is expected by many McCoy will eventually be ruled eligible for the 2019 season given the circumstances.
The typical transfer rule still is in play with players having to sit out a season before being ruled eligible to play again, with the exception of graduate transfers getting immediate eligibility. Hardship waivers have long existed to allow for possible immediate eligibility for players, but the approval of waivers and appeals is beginning to be more frequent. That’s a good thing for players, and a growing headache for coaches.
With this trend continuing to grow, it won’t be long before the NCAA takes a look at what is going on to determine if any refinements to the rules need to be implemented.
Ohio State has its quarterback for the 2019 season. It will be Justin Fields.
Fields, who transferred from Georgia to Ohio State last month has been granted immediate eligibility from the NCAA, allowing him to bypass the typical one-year waiting period before being eligible to play again following a transfer.
“I am happy for Justin and his family,” Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said in a released statement. “I also want to express my appreciation to the NCAA for its assistance in getting this matter resolved efficiently and with such a positive outcome for Justin.”
According to previous reports, the basis for the waiver filed by Fields was a racist slur hurled at him at Georgia by a baseball player (who has since been dismissed at Georgia) along with adjusted transfer rules focusing on transfers due to “mitigating circumstances” out of a player’s control.
This is a major victory for Day and Ohio State, as Fields will likely step right into the starting job after the departure to the NFL by Dwayne Haskins. Fields was previously a top recruit of the Georgia Bulldogs, and he brings tremendous potential as a quarterback. He will also have three years of eligibility as he gets started at Ohio State, which will go to use right away this fall. If Fields was not granted eligibility right away, the Buckeyes could have had a much more questionable quarterback situation this fall. That will no longer be the case.
What remains to be seen now is whether or not the NCAA will grant a former Ohio State quarterback a similar outcome. Tate Martell, who transferred to Miami shortly after Fields made his transfer to Columbus official, also applied for a waiver to be granted immediate eligibility with the Hurricanes. A decision for Martell is still pending.
Justin Fields appears to be settling in fairly quickly in his new surroundings in Columbus, Ohio. Fields took to Twitter Friday night to confirm his decision to leave Georgia for Ohio State, and on Saturday he took in a men’s basketball game with Dwayne Haskins and Urban Meyer.
Meyer, who coached his final game for the Buckeyes earlier this week with a victory in the Rose Bowl just hours before Fields’ former team lost in the Sugar Bowl, was being honored at the Ohio State men’s basketball game against Michigan State. And although Meyer will no longer be the head coach of Ohio State (Ryan Day is now officially the head coach of the program) Meyer still has some influence in Columbus as he takes on a new role with the university and athletics department. That role is still being ironed out, but it stands to reason Meyer can have some pull with the football recruiting process when needed.
Fields shared a statement on Twitter Friday night confirming what had been reported rather thoroughly throughout the week when he explained he had decided to transfer to Ohio State. He thanked Georgia head coach Kirby Smart for the opportunity to come to Georgia and be a part of the program. However, the quick departure of one of the top recruits from the state of Georgia in the entire Class of 2018 after just one year, and to lose that player to a Big Ten program, should raise some questions about Smart on the recruiting trail moving forward.
It still remains to be seen when Fields will be eligible to play for Ohio State. The normal transfer policy means Fields should not be eligible for the Buckeyes until 2020, although he seems to think he has a chance to be ruled eligible immediately. We’ll see. In the meantime, Tate Martell is expected to be the next quarterback in line if Dwayne Haskins chooses to leave Ohio State for the NFL. That decision, however, has not been made just yet, which means the quarterback situation in Columbus is pretty interesting right now.
With Georgia just days away from competing for the College Football Playoff national championship, its early signing day prized recruit is not wasting any time in getting himself ready to get involved with the football program. Justin Fields, who chose to attend Georgia over offers from Florida State, LSU and more took to Twitter Friday afternoon to announce he is enrolling early in Athens.
Fields enrolling early will mean he is eligible to participate in spring football practices and the spring football game. This all gives the incoming top-ranked recruit a chance to begin working out with the Georgia staff and getting familiar with the playbook and getting snaps in with his new teammates this spring. It also increases the depth at the quarterback position for Georgia this spring, which could ultimately result in at least one quarterback looking for a new place to call home before too long.
Jacob Eason is thought to be the most likely player that could potentially transfer given the situation with Georgia, although there is nothing to suggest Eason is considering that possibility at this time. Jake Fromm is about to lead Georgia’s offense against Alabama in the national championship game and Fields is not expected to have to wait too long for his first crack at competing for the starting job at quarterback. Where that leaves Eason remains to be seen, but this is why some experts feel Eason may be likely to pursue a potential transfer for a better chance at starting.