This weekend, I was at a party with a bunch of other middle aged people in the non-Ohio city where I live. I realized that one of the party guests was a prominent national college football writer with a specialization in recruitment. He is not one of the OSU specialists/insiders - he is a national guy and you would recognize his name (if you follow recruiting news).
I approached him and said the words every national football writer dreads: "I am an obsessive Buckeye fan." Alas, he was cornered between the salsa table and the wall, and we talked for 15 minutes.
He believes that Justin Fields is so exceptional that - in combination with our 2017 and 2018 recruiting classes aging in - we are going to win a natty in the next two years.
More specific on Fields - his thoughts:
- Didn't come out of HS as game-ready as Trevor Lawrence (different HS coaching, less of the summer stuff).
- His upside is even greater than Lawrence. He can throw the same quality ball ("just a beautiful ball"), and has better dual threat upside. (he also has a lower floor). He said he has as much arm talent as Haskins and much much better running ability.
- Variable with Fields is going to be learning to make the reads and make decisions under pressure - no evidence he can't do it, he just has had many fewer opportunities to hone the skill.
- I asked for his best "comp" and he said... Cam Newton. Said he has that kind of ability to put a team on his back, and the combo of arm talent with ability to take off with the ball.
Why didn't he beat out Fromm? (This was my big question).
- Fromm doesn't make mistakes, so he isn't going to lose the job.
- Fromm is better than people think - this guy thinks he is a 15 year pro, albeit mostly as a backup.
- Fromm is an upper-end "game manager" - which fits perfectly with how Kirby Smart wants to play.
- Fromm has unique leadership skills (like JT Barrett this guy said) - if he was in a room, you would know he was there.
- Bottom line: Fields has more upside than Fromm, but you can definitely win a natty with Fromm and you don't have to develop him.
Bonus hot take:
- He thinks (and said other writers think) that Urban just got soft in the last few years. Wouldn't cut Zach, wouldn't cut Bill Davis, wouldn't start Haskins a year ago, and - this seemed interesting - this guy said that many writers feel like Schiano should have been let go a year ago and that his scheme was slipping but UFM wouldn't do it.
I eventually let this guy get his salsa in peace. But this is the take from a pro, a non-Buckeye fan who has watched an incredible volume of film: Justin Fields will lead us to a national championship with the team he is inheriting.