As members of the 2018 recruiting class, there were a lot of similarities between Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields.
Lawrence was the top-rated pro-style quarterback while Fields checked in as the highest ranked dual-threat. Lawrence edged Fields for the No. 1 overall ranking in the class, while Fields checked in at No. 2.
Lawrence's high school was in Cartersville, Georgia, a short 30 minute drive north from Fields' stomping grounds in Kennesaw, Georgia. The two were far and away the best prospects coming out of high school that year, and they proved that at the Elite 11 quarterback competition in 2017.
Lawrence was phenomenal that week in Redondo Beach, California, but in the end, Fields was better—winning the competition and garnering MVP honors. And beyond that, there were experts on scene who said Fields was the best they'd seen in nearly a decade.
Heard from 3 guys who coach at the @Elite11 & each said Justin Fields is THE most impressive QB they've seen in their 6,7,8 years working it— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) July 7, 2017
That would put Fields a notch above Elite 11 alums such as Tua Tagovailoa, Dwayne Haskins, Kyler Murray, Deshaun Watson, Jared Goff, Jameis Winston and a host of others.
Barton Simmons, 247Sports director of recruiting, spoke highly of Fields after his showing that week.
"He's [former Clemson quarterback] Deshaun Watson from an athletic standpoint, but he's more advanced at this point," Simmons said, via Ben Kercheval of CBS Sports. "When you put that together it's hard not to be incredibly optimistic."
Lawrence pledged to Dabo Swinney and Clemson and Fields flipped his commitment from Penn State to Georgia. That's where the similarities ended.
Both reported as true freshmen to teams with returning starters at quarterback who were coming off playoff appearances the year before.
A September injury to Clemson's Kelly Bryant opened the door for Lawrence to start, and it's a position he never relinquished once he gained it. He went on to throw for more than 3,200 yards and 30 touchdowns (against just four interceptions) while leading Clemson to a perfect season and a 44-16 blowout victory over Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship.
Fields, meanwhile, never got off the bench and served as a backup and change-of-pace quarterback to Georgia starter Jake Fromm. Fields completed 69.2 percent of his passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns and added 266 yards and four more scores on the ground. He didn't throw an interception in 39 attempts.
With Fromm back this year, Fields wanted a fresh start, and that's how he landed at Ohio State. His transfer and the subsequent ruling of immediate eligibility from the NCAA gives him a chance to start new and make the kind of impact on a title contender that Lawrence got at Clemson a season ago.
And that's where he and Ohio State find themselves with less than three weeks before the start of the 2019 season. The Buckeyes are looking to replace their record-setting quarterback in Dwayne Haskins, and Fields is looking to prove he's the kind of quarterback who can go toe-to-toe with any signal-caller in the country.
He hasn't technically won the starting job yet, but the presumption exists that when Ohio State lines up against FAU in the season opener, it'll be Fields behind center. And if that Elite 11 performance two years ago is any indication,