The speculation, debate and conversations about Ohio State never end, and Lettermen Row is always ready to dive into the discussions. All week long, senior writer Austin Ward will field topics about the Buckeyes submitted by readers and break down anything that’s on the minds of the Best Damn Fans in the Land. Have a question that needs to be tackled, like the one today about the potential of Justin Fields as part of Quarterbacks Week? Send it in right here — and check back daily for the answers.
I have heard Fields accuracy as not being "Haskinsesq." Who would you compare his accuracy/throwing style to? Running ability comparison?
— Ji❌ Toney (@25jtone) July 11, 2019
There are plenty of good reasons why the hype exists for Justin Fields.
Whether or not the new Ohio State quarterback can eventually live up to it on the field remains to be seen. But when it comes to the physical tools, mental makeup and system around him, the Buckeyes have everything they could possibly need at the position in Fields.
In fact, looking at the Georgia transfer when he arrived, it was like somebody had taken traits from all of the recent Ohio State quarterbacks, mixed them up in a blender and poured out Fields. That doesn’t mean he can do all of the things Braxton Miller, Cardale Jones, Terrelle Pryor, J.T. Barrett or Dwayne Haskins did as well as those guys — but the overall combination of skills is what made him the highest-rated recruit in school history.
How exactly will Fields measure up when he takes all that potential into the Horseshoe? That answer will come soon enough, but here’s a quick look at who set the standard for him and what the Buckeyes need from the next guy in line at one of the highest-profile positions in the country.
Accuracy: Dwayne Haskins
There is no question that Fields wasn’t ready during spring camp to win a head-to-head comparison with his good friend Dwayne Haskins when it comes to delivering the football with pinpoint accuracy. Honestly, it’s possible that he might not ever get to that level given just how special the arm of Haskins was on the way to becoming a first-round pick. But Fields is also more than just a dual-threat weapon who can skate by as a passer. He has a legitimate ability to throw strikes for the Buckeyes, but at this stage in his career it’s not going to be anywhere near as consistent as Haskins was a year ago. The good news for Fields is that it probably won’t need to be thanks to the threat of his legs, which should open up wider throwing lanes.
Arm strength: Cardale Jones
No offense to the rockets that Haskins could unleash, but Ohio State also might never see a guy with the deep-ball ability of Cardale Jones again. This is another situation where Fields doesn’t have to get all the way to the 12-Gauge level to be effective, but he can come relatively close and be highly productive. There is no question that Fields has the strength to push the football down the field and stretch defenses, and that was probably where he looked most comfortable during spring — including that gorgeous bomb that turned into a 98-yard touchdown in the final scrimmage of camp.
Explosive athleticism: Braxton Miller
Regardless of position, Braxton Miller is hands-down one of the most dynamic players to ever have the football in his hands at Ohio State. The Buckeyes perhaps leaned on that electrifying ability as a rusher too much and Miller’s body eventually wore down at the end of his career, but he did some truly special work before then with his mobility. Fields has already unveiled a dangerous looking spin move at the college level, and his potential breakaway speed is unmistakable. The Ohio State offense has shifted away from relying on the quarterback to carry the load on the ground, but Fields has the skills to at least tempt the staff into running from that position again more frequently.
Leadership/Toughness: J.T. Barrett
J.T. Barrett is the gold standard for Ohio State when it comes to accepting all of the responsibility that comes with playing quarterback for the program, this is one area where it’s almost impossible to evaluate Fields until the season starts. There is a clear willingness to do it on Fields part, and both teammates and coaches have noticed him trying to take on that role through summer workouts heading into training camp. But the brightest spotlight is on Fields every week, he’s the voice of the program both in the locker room and in weekly press conferences and the pressure to win games falls heaviest on a quarterback’s shoulders. More than anything, the ability to handle all that figures to be what will make or break Fields during his career with the Buckeyes.
Total package: Terrelle Pryor
The guy Justin Fields now tops on the list of highest-rated recruits in school history? Terrelle Pryor. It’s pretty easy to see why, since both guys proved at the previous level that they possessed special athleticism while still being able to get the job done as a passer. There has always been a conversation wondering just what Pryor might have been capable of doing in an Urban Meyer offense, and the record books at Ohio State might look completely different if that had been the case. The way Pryor’s career ended obviously soured many around the program on him and overshadowed his skills on the field. And there are certainly parts of Pryor’s makeup aside from the athletic ability that Ohio State won’t want Fields to emulate. But when it comes to putting together all of the pieces for an elite dual-threat weapon across the board, Pryor is another guy setting the bar for Fields.
So, no pressure, right? All Justin Fields has to do is live up to the standard of some of the best quarterbacks in Ohio State history.
The scary part for the Big Ten and the rest of the national-title contenders is that he actually has the potential to do it.
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