COLUMBUS, Ohio -- New Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields said Wednesday that he picked the Buckeyes as his new home because of the team's offensive success and the probability that they will help him get to the NFL.
Fields, a former five-star recruit, left Georgia this December after playing in a back-up role during his freshman season. He declined Wednesday to talk about his reasons for leaving the Bulldogs but said he considered a few other colleges before making a "business decision" to go to Ohio State and play for new head coach Ryan Day.
"Coach Day, he's been in the NFL. He knows what it takes to get quarterbacks to the NFL," Fields said. "...I was just worried about the best place to develop me for the next level. That's the main thing I was looking for."
Ohio State has submitted a waiver request to the NCAA that would allow Fields to play during the 2019 season, skipping the usual one-year waiting period for athletes who change schools before graduating. Fields declined to discuss the details of the argument he and his attorney are making to the NCAA to receive that waiver. He said he wasn't sure how good of a chance he had to play in 2019 but was hopeful that it would come soon. Attorney Tom Mars told reporters earlier this week that they were expecting to learn about Fields' eligibility in the near future.
"I'm not really anxious. I'm not really rushing anything," Fields said. "I don't really control that -- they do. I'm just trying to get here to be the best quarterback I can be."
Day said he hopes the NCAA will make a ruling on Fields' eligibility sometime in the "next few weeks." The first-year coach said he has some concerns about starting a young quarterback -- Fields' biggest competition for the job is redshirt freshman Matthew Baldwin -- and with getting a quarterback ready to play in less than a calendar year.
"It doesn't just happen," Day said. "What happened last year with Dwayne Haskins is an anomaly. For someone to step in and after 14 games he's projected to be maybe the first quarterback picked in the draft and third in the Heisman, that doesn't just happen. ... It's going to take a lot of hard work and a lot of adjusting on the move."
Day said he thought Haskins might be a "once in a lifetime" player for how quickly he picked up Ohio State's offense and found success. He said he would monitor how much of his offensive scheme Fields had to learn in his first season and add more as time goes on. Asked about Fields' stated plans to get to the NFL as fast as possible, Day said he didn't have any problem with him using his time at Ohio State as a stepping-stone to a pro career.
"We don't apologize for developing guys," Day said. "[The ability to send players to the NFL] is just one part of it, though."
Fields, who is friends with Haskins and spoke to him about playing at Ohio State, said he was hoping to duplicate Haskins' record-setting production in 2018. He thinks the Buckeyes' offensive scheme and the talented group of wide receivers at the school provide the support he'll need to put up big numbers.
"I see myself using my legs a little bit more than Dwayne did last year," Fields said. "[But] I'm here to do whatever Coach Day asks me to do and whatever is best for the team."
Fields said he has spent the last month diving into the Ohio State playbook and learning the offense alongside new quarterbacks coach Mike Yurcich, who also joined the team in January. Fields said he doesn't know the entire playbook yet, but his daily sessions with Yurcich and other coaches have helped him understand the parts he has digested thus far.
Yurcich said he has been learning the offense side-by-side with Fields in daily meetings during the past several weeks. Yurcich said he thought Fields was a "dynamic" player from what he had seen on film but didn't want to evaluate him further until he had a chance to see the sophomore quarterback on the field during spring practice.
"You can't walk into a room and think you know everything," Yurcich said. "I'm learning the offense right with him. It's an open dialogue. I probably ask more questions than they ask. I'm not afraid to ask some stupid questions."
Yurcich said the uncertainty about Fields' eligibility in 2019 doesn't mean he approaches him or the other quarterbacks on the roster any differently as they wait for the NCAA to make a decision.