Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields has come a very long way in two calendar years. In his second collegiate season at his second school, Fields is an outside Heisman Trophy candidate. Two years ago he was wrapping up his career as a high school phenom at Harrison High School (Kennesaw, Ga.).
Fields first committed to Penn State. The Nittany Lions were one of the first prominent Power 5 programs to chase Fields following a breakout 10th grade campaign, and he felt a bond with then-Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead. Despite the geographic distance from Georgia to Happy Valley, Penn State felt like a fit.
So what happened to convince Fields to head instead to Athens, Ga.? The Cleveland Plain Dealer connected with Fields’ mother and his high school coach, Matt Dickmann, to get to the bottom of his decision.
The first major driver of his decision? Concern about Moorhead’s longterm future.
“His offensive mind for me was like, OK, you can excel under this coaching” Fields’ mother Gina Tovey told the Plain Dealer. “But we knew how good he was, and we read that he was a target for a head coaching job. As much as he said, ‘No, no, I’m not going to do it, we were like, I think it’s coming sooner rather than later, and then we don’t know what what we have.
“So that was one of the deciding factors as far as decommitting goes.”
The other major factor? A sudden tsunami of interest from the nation’s other major programs. In the end he picked Georgia, the SEC power next door, though his inability (or Georgia coach Kirby Smart’s unwillingness) to unseat Bulldogs quarterback Jake Fromm precipitated Fields’ offseason transfer to Ohio State.
That has in turn brought him full circle, to an Ohio State-Penn State where he’s suddenly lining up on an opposite sideline than he expected.
“I think coach Franklin’s a good coach, and I had a great relationship with coach Moorhead,” Fields told the media after a 56-21 victory at Rutgers. “I know a good amount of the (players), so just have having those relationships. I still talked to a few of them. They’re all great guys over there.”