It’s always nice to have a backup plan.
And you can bet Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart is thanking the football gods the Bulldogs snagged not one but two major transfers this off season in former USC Trojan quarterback JT Daniels and Wake Forest standout Jamie Newman.
Because as it turns out, he needed both.
Newman was expected to be the starter this season and lead the Bulldogs into the SEC Title game and playoff conversation. However, if that does come to fruition, it won’t be because of anything Newman has done on the field.
News broke on Wednesday that the newcomer to the Bulldogs, who had earned immediate eligibility, has now decided to opt out of the 2020 season due to Covid-19 concerns and will begin preparing for the 2021 NFL draft.
As I’ve said before, I really do not care WHY a player opts out. Because at the end of the day it is a personal/business decision and who am I to say what is best for someone I don’t even know? Exactly.
However, the timing of this news is interesting to say the least after just a few days ago we learned Justin Fields was on campus to observe a UGA football practice.
Now I know what you’re thinking and I’m going to stop you right there. No. It’s not going to happen. Justin Fields is not returning to Athens to play for UGA. Why? Well I’m glad you asked.
Let’s not forget why he left Athens for Ohio State in the first place. For one, he was never really given a shot at the job his first time around and then there was the claim of a racial slur from a UGA baseball player (no longer enrolled at UGA, either) was used at Fields.
I will say it was humorous to scroll through twitter last night with everyone’s take on the situation and the “Fields to UGA” train was full steam head.
Here are a few of my favorites I saw:
Now all this Big Ten disaster aside, why would Justin Fields ever want to go back to UGA just one year later? I understand he wants to play football and improve his overall game, NFL draft stock, unfinished business. etc. I get it. But going back to Georgia doesn’t make much sense considering how he left and how recent that was.
First of all, you have to be enrolled at the school to begin with. Some folks want to believe anything they see on the internet neglecting the fact that perhaps a photo could be old/altered OR maybe that was never actually removed from the online student directory at UGA. I’ve been a college alum for six years now and I still have an active school email address and receive regular alumni news. I know that’s not the same as showing up in the directory but you get my point, I hope.
If they somehow figured that out, there’s the whole NCAA clearance aspect so he would be eligible to play. He was granted the immediate waiver to play last season for Ohio State so I have a hard time believing the powers that be would give him a second one to go back to the school he originally left.
While it would be nice this season for any player that wanted to transfer elsewhere due to their season being cancelled or postponed and be granted immediate clearance, it opens up Pandora’s Box for chaos.
As if this “freebie” year from the NCAA for all fall student-athletes wasn’t going to complicate scholarships and rosters in general, let’s toss in some more gas to the fire and 2020 be a full blown free agency market for college football. To be clear, I’m in favor of this year not impacting players either way but it comes with problems.
Again, I feel for those players who have been robbed of their 2020 season but we can’t facilitate total disarray for a college football season we still don’t know yet will truly come to fruition to the end.
I feel for Justin Fields, I really do. But as the young folks say “This ain’t it”. So UGA fans, don’t let these folks get your hopes up.
It’s interesting that Fields was there for practice no doubt. But let’s remember he has friends on that team, is from Kennesaw GA, and most importantly his sister, Jaiden Fields, attends UGA and plays softball for the Lady Dawgs. All very reasonable reasons he would visit campus during some downtime that don’t lead to him returning to campus as a student-athlete himself.
I feel for Jamie Newman, too. He was in a good position to put UGA in the running for an SEC East crown and trip to Atlanta for the Championship. All while getting better exposure than he received at Wake Forest and improving his draft stock. Now, this transfer is ultimately all for naught.
Now the issue of what happens with the Big Ten football season continues to be unsettled as of 11:30 a.m. Thursday morning. Hopefully, we get some sort of definitive, final answer by the weekend.
As for Georgia….yikes. I guess the job now is JT Daniels to lose but while he has also earned an immediate waiver from the NCAA to play without sitting out a full year first, he still isn’t cleared to play in a game following his ACL injury last year. He’s been practicing but from all reports wouldn’t be allowed to take snaps if the Bulldogs’ first game was this Saturday. Next in line I assume is D’Wan Mathis, a four star who used his redshirt last season after undergoing brain surgery. He was cleared to play in February.
For Kirby Smart, his mishandling of quarterbacks continues. It is not exactly fair to pin Newman on him and he was smart enough not to put all his eggs in one basket this off-season. But hard to argue how badly this is shaken out for UGA when at one time Jacob Eason, Jake Fromm and Justin Fields were at your disposal and you don’t have much to really show for it other than a 2017 SEC Championship.
It’s looking like an unfortunate case of what could have been for three schools now: Georgia, Ohio State and Wake Forest and a pair of quarterbacks in Justin Fields and Jamie Newman.
Here’s to hoping it all works out for the best in the end.