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Speculating on 5-star QB Justin Fields’ next official visits
The recruitment of 5-star quarterback Justin Fields figured to be a dominant topic early in the 2017 season.
Coming into the season, schools such as Auburn, Florida State, Georgia and Southern California were among the programs linked to the 6-foot-3, 221-pound former Penn State pledge.
However, the injuries to the starting quarterbacks at Florida State and Georgia — the two presumed favorites in the Fields sweepstakes — have added another layer of intrigue to the process of the top overall prospect in the 2018 cycle.
Last week, the Kennesaw [Ga.] Harrison passer went off script a bit and took his first official visit to LSU.
ATL✈️LSU 🐯🐯 #GeauxTigers
— Justin Fields (@justnfields) September 8, 2017
The Tigers are now in the mix with Fields, but where will he head next, and will he use all four remaining official visits?
Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports broached the topic and offered his take on what the Peach State standout’s itinerary could look like in the coming weeks.
Wiltfong theorized that Fields could head to Gainesville this weekend to see Florida take on Tennessee and then make the short trip to Athens next weekend to watch Georgia face Mississippi State. His return to Tallahassee would wait until Oct. 7 for Florida State’s game against Miami — a matchup originally scheduled last weekend that was delayed because of Hurricane Irma. Wiltfong also notes that Fields could make a decision at any time.
Fields visited Florida during the summer. However, with the Gators already holding a pledge from 4-star quarterback and early enrollee Matt Corral, it remains to be seen how serious of a threat they are to land him in the end. Perhaps the bigger concern for the Gators overall is fixing an offense that mustered just 192 yards of total offense in their season-opening loss to Michigan. Or, maybe, the Gators could sell Fields — or Corral — on being the remedy to their offensive woes in the future.
Georgia lost starting quarterback Jacob Eason to a knee injury in the season-opening win over Appalachian State. While Eason is expected to return at some point in the season, his absence opened the door for freshman Jake Fromm to seize the opportunity and lead the Bulldogs to a key road win over Notre Dame last weekend. It’s still too soon to anoint Fromm as the quarterback of the future in Athens and the Bulldogs offense — which through two games is averaging 20 yards per game less than last year, according to cfbstats.com — is still working out the kinks under offensive coordinator Jim Chaney.
But, the biggest unknown among the favorites in Fields’ recruitment has to be the situation at Florida State. After all, with starting quarterback Deondre Francois lost for the season in the season-opening loss to Alabama and the Seminoles following two games wiped away due to Hurricane Irma, new starting quarterback James Blackman is still waiting to throw his first pass in a college game. He will have to wait until Sept. 23 when Florida State returns to action against N.C. State.
Auburn, Oregon and USC are other options that could land his final official visit. However, Auburn is coming off its worst offensive performance under coach Gus Malzahn in a loss last week to Clemson, as outlined by Brandon Marcello of 247Sports. Additionally, Fields could visit them unofficially since Auburn’s campus is a short drive away from his hometown.
While Oregon and Southern California are interesting options, after Fields de-committed from Penn State, you have to wonder if he will entertain the thought of committing to another program that far away from home. Of the two, USC might be the more serious threat considering that Fields visited the Trojans during the summer and the hype around current starting quarterback Sam Darnold — who is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate and a potential first-round NFL draft choice should he elect to leave school early.
Still, assuming Fields follows a track similar to what Wiltfong laid out, Florida State could get his last official visit or the next-to-last one before he makes his decision. That would give Fields a chance to assess how the Seminoles look with Blackman at the controls and also, it would give coach Jimbo Fisher and his staff a chance to show Fields how he would fit into their future plans. Regardless of how Florida State’s season plays out, Fisher’s history of developing NFL quarterbacks is something that is likely to keep the Seminoles heavily in contention for Fields until he makes a final decision.
Expect a few more twists and turns as the nation’s top prospect works his way toward arriving at a conclusion in his recruitment.
2019 WR target de-commits from LSU
LSU lost a key commitment from 4-star receiver Kenyon Jackson on Wednesday.
The 6-foot-5, 200-pound standout from Loganville [Ga.] Grayson had been committed to the Tigers since June 6.
— Kenyon Jackson (@kenyonjackson5) September 13, 2017
Among the other programs who have offered Jackson include Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Louisville and Oregon.
The Ducks are the most recent program to offer Jackson, and his list could expand now that he’s reopened his recruitment.
Jackson, who rates as the nation’s No. 48 receiver and the No. 315 player overall in the 2019 cycle per 247Sports, is a raw prospect who is in his first season starting for the defending state champion Rams squad.
According to MaxPreps, Jackson has 8 receptions for 140 yards and a touchdown through Grayson’s first three games this season.
The Seminoles are a school to watch moving forward — especially considering they have four of his prep teammates at Grayson in the 2019 cycle already committed and are heavily pursuing another in 5-star linebacker Owen Pappoe.
Florida State already holds a handful of predictions on Jackson’s 247Sports Crystal Ball page.
He was last on the Seminoles campus in July for Florida State’s summer camp. With his recruitment now officially reopened, it will be interesting to see which schools he visits and when he chooses to take them.
Since Florida State was on his radar while he was committed to the Tigers, the Seminoles appear to be one of the schools that figure to be one his radar now that he’s back on the market.
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