Only two days of the Ohio State football team’s preseason training camp had passed before highlights of Justin Fields began trickling out from the practice fields at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
On Saturday, in the hours after the second practice had ended, the team’s official Twitter account shared a clip of Fields lofting a pass along the sideline in the direction of freshman receiver Garrett Wilson. The ball dropped right into Wilson’s grasp as he snatched it from Damon Arnette, the cornerback who was running with him. The 16-second video ended with a glimpse of receivers coach Brian Hartline flashing a smile alongside Fields.
“The offense bringing the smiles” read the tweet’s caption.
Snapshots of Fields’ performance on the field have been rare. Most of the practices are closed to reporters, limiting observations of the sophomore who is considered the favorite to start for the Buckeyes this season.
Some offensive linemen who met with reporters on Thursday offered their impressions after the first week of preseason camp. They had been paired with Fields during 11-on-11 periods of the practices.
His early showing went beyond arm talent or running ability, they said. Fields also flashed a ready demeanor.
“I want a leader,” said Josh Myers, a third-year sophomore center, “someone who is very vocal and clear and concise when he makes a call. When a quarterback comes up and makes a call, ‘No, that’s the call’ — you know what I mean? That’s what we’re going with. Even if it’s wrong, that’s what we’re going with.
“As a center, I say ‘OK, let’s do it.’”
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“He’s done a great job at this point,” Myers said.
Fields, who transferred from Georgia in January, has worked with a majority of the players since spring practice.
“One thing you learn about college real fast is respect is earned,” Myers said. “It’s not given. It’s something you have to earn for yourself when you get to a program, and he’s done a great job of that.”
Right guard Wyatt Davis offered a similar assessment of Fields but also acknowledged the other quarterbacks — Chris Chugunov and Gunnar Hoak — in the competition.
“We like the progressions we’re seeing from all our quarterbacks,” Davis said.
Center Harry Miller and wide receiver Jameson Williams became the first freshmen to shed the black stripes on their helmets in training camp.
The team announced the removals Thursday. The rite of passage for newcomers began under former coach Urban Meyer and has remained under Ryan Day.
Miller has seen reps with the second-team offense during the first week of camp and made a noticeable impression.
“I do see him getting on the field,” Day said this week. “How much will be dependent upon our depth, injuries, how the season goes, a lot of different things, and how he develops in the next couple weeks. But he has the ability. He's very intelligent. He can process, he can bend, he can do those things. We have a couple guys in there that are candidates to be the backup center, but right now he's doing a good job.”
If Miller emerges as the backup center, he would be slotted behind Myers, the projected starter.