Justin Fields says words can’t describe excitement about Ohio State football season
When the chance for a season looked bleakest, Justin Fields refused to bow to the odds.
The Ohio State quarterback started an online petition asking the Big Ten to play that received more than 300,000 signatures. Now that the conference has reversed its position and a season will start in five weeks, Fields vows to take advantage of the opportunity for a second season as a Buckeye.
“I don't think there are words to describe how determined I am,” Fields said in a conference call with reporters Friday.
Fields threw for 41 touchdowns and only three interceptions and ran for another 10 scores in becoming a Heisman Trophy finalist and leading the Buckeyes to the College Football Playoff after arriving as a transfer from Georgia.
He is projected to go near the top of the NFL draft next year. Not playing this year wouldn’t have hurt his draft status much, but Fields said he did not contemplate leaving school to prepare for the draft or transferring to another school.
“I wasn't really in a rush in making a decision,” he said. “I just trying to see how it played out and hoping that the Big Ten would change the decision like they did.”
In the meantime, he worked individually with coach Ryan Day, who made his reputation as a quarterbacks coach at the college and NFL levels. They worked on Fields’ mechanics and studied video.
“We were working one-on-one and I think I learned a lot from him, just seeing the way he thinks and the way he watches film,” Fields said.
That was one reason he decided not to rush a decision about leaving. He knows Ohio State has a loaded roster and would be primed to make a run at a national title if they did have a season.
“I wanted to give myself an opportunity to come back and show the world what I can do and what I've improved on because I feel I've improved a lot on my game,” Fields said. “I've learned a lot this offseason. I know the talent we have on offense and defense. We're just all excited to be able to get on the field and show how hard we've been working and show our talents.”
But he acknowledged how painful it was to be on the couch watching college football before the Big Ten reconsidered while other teams started their season.
“Just watching the first week of games with a few of my teammates, we were all hurting,” Fields said. “We literally kept saying, ‘Wow, we're really not playing this year. This is all we're going to be doing this year.’
“I’m 21 and this is the first year in 16 years I haven't played football. So that's a curveball being thrown at you. We were all distraught, but we stayed together and helped each other through this. I think that's not only going to make us closer, make our relationship stronger and just make our love for each other even stronger.”