Justin Fields has not been anointed the starting quarterback at Ohio State — yet — and he is fine with that.
The Buckeyes are only three days into training camp, and coach Ryan Day has made it clear that he’s in no rush to name a starter.
Fields, whose stiffest competition is Kentucky graduate transfer Gunnar Hoak, isn’t in a hurry for a starter to be named. Fields, who transferred from Georgia after his freshman season, is concentrating simply on improvement.
“Coach Day told me before I came here that it just wasn't going to be given to me,” Fields said. “We're all trying to get that starting spot, of course, but we're just going to take it day by day and just try to improve every day as a team.”
That appears to be happening. Fields said that fifth-year senior lineman Branden Bowen told him that the offense was “doing better earlier in camp” than previous Buckeyes teams.
“So I think we're making good progress,” Fields said. “And I definitely have more chemistry with the other receivers now just from throwing after other workouts in the summer.”
Fields said he and the receivers didn’t take more than five days off all summer from throwing inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
“I know (how) they run their routes and just kind of who can do what,” he said.
Fields said he has made dramatic progress since the end of spring practice. He enrolled in January.
“I think I'm way better just in terms of fundamentals, throwing-wise and pocket presence,” Fields said.
His leadership also seems to have taken a step forward as he has had time to bond with his new teammates.
“When you come into a new place, you can't just come in and just act like you're a leader,” Fields said. “You have to get used to the guys and build relationships with them so they trust you. Then you could kind of step out and become a leader. So that's what I did, and I feel like I'm just becoming more of a leader each and every day.”
Quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator Mike Yurcich agreed with that assessment. He said Fields has made “significant” progress in his knowledge of the offense since April.
What he wants to see from Fields and all his quarterbacks is consistent progress in practices and intrasquad scrimmages. As for any statistical thresholds he wants them to meet, Yurcich replied, “Wins.”
“Unfortunately, you don't play anybody in the preseason,” Yurcich said. “You know, that's the ultimate stat, and that's the only step that matters.
“But I think after we get into it for a couple weeks and we're able to put some live scrimmages together and try to simulate the game as much as possible, we'll have a better feel for what that timeline is and who that's going to be.”
It would be a monumental surprise if Fields isn’t the starter. As the No. 2-ranked prospect in the 2018 recruiting class nationally, Fields faces a lot of pressure. He wears a red rubber bracelet that reads “Humble over hype” and seems unfazed by the spotlight.
“You've just got to embrace it,” he said. “All this hype and all that, you’ve just got to back it up. I try to stay even-keeled and just don't even listen to the outside people. Just keep my head down and work.”