The throwing sessions start around 8 a.m. at a soccer complex in the Atlanta suburbs.


It’s early enough that the fields are almost empty. A few walkers stroll along a path that surrounds the facility.


Only one receiver arrives to catch passes from the quarterback.


Footballs are rubbed with disinfectant wipes.


In the age of a coronavirus pandemic, this is routine for Justin Fields.


Ohio State’s players have scattered across the country since the university canceled in-person classes for the rest of the semester and suspended organized team activities in all sports, including spring football practice, through at least April 6.


Some players can remain in off-campus apartments. Many have returned to their hometowns.


While Fields is back in his native Kennesaw, Georgia, he has been training with Ron Veal, a private quarterbacks coach he has worked with since middle school.


For the past week, their sessions have replaced spring practices the Buckeyes were once scheduled to hold.


"The biggest thing is being able to get some work in," Veal said. "You’re not going to be able to replicate (spring practice) because he has six or seven receivers to throw to in practice. It’s just to keep him as sharp as much as possible."


The continued development of Fields this offseason remains critical for Ohio State, which expects to be among the preseason favorites to win the national title.


In his first season after transferring from Georgia, he finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting, and the ease of his transition helped the Buckeyes return to the College Football Playoff.


Now Fields prepares for his second season with the Buckeyes under much different conditions.


Veal trained Fields as recently as last offseason. They worked together about a half-dozen times in May when Fields was back home before returning to Columbus for summer strength and conditioning workouts.


But this stretch will last much longer.


Veal said he plans to train Fields for another month, or until players can return to campus.


Uncertainty shrouds the rest of spring practice and other offseason programs.


Fields’ throwing sessions last about an hour and 15 minutes, and Veal has sought to take steps to limit their health risk, such as scrubbing footballs, washing hands and standing far apart on the field.


Veal is particularly cautious because he works as a firefighter and paramedic with the Smyrna City Fire Department, increasing his chances of exposure to COVID-19.


"We’re taking all the precautions the CDC says to take," Veal said. "So we just try to keep it small, relatively quick and get out of there."


Only one other player has worked out with them in their handful of sessions former Oklahoma State receiver Jordan McCray, who caught passes from Fields on Sunday.


McCray, a native of Marietta, Georgia, has been preparing for next month’s NFL draft.


Beyond repetitions, the individual work for Fields involves areas of development that he had sought to prioritize this spring.


Veal said that was quickening his delivery on passes, sharpening his drop-back into pocket and improving his accuracy while throwing on the run.


"That’s his game," he said.


Under normal circumstances, Fields would be midway through spring practice led by Buckeyes coach Ryan Day, a former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.


Fields is to be the first starting quarterback Day has worked with in consecutive seasons. But the pandemic has left Fields waiting to return.


Veal said the quarterback was striving for a level-headed approach for the time being.


"I think he’s going day by day with it," Veal said, "dealing with it like everybody else and hoping it goes away."


jkaufman@dispatch.com


@joeyrkaufman