Transferring in college football was typically reserved for grad transfers. There were a few expections but transfers had to either way a year to play or get one last year somewhere else. That all changed once Justin Fields decided to leave Georgia.
The Changing Landscape of College Football
When Fields decided to commit and attend Georgia, it was a bit of a head scratching move. Eason and Fromm were on the roster and both were highly touted recruits for the Bulldogs. But Fields decided that he wanted to wear the red and black and was off to Athens.
Seeing how Justin Fields was not only the number one QB recruit in his class but one of the highest rated ever, he wouldn’t sit long. Kirby Smart created packages and had gimmick plays for Fields to run. It was an effort to try and keep him in the mix so he wouldn’t leave. Eason had already transferred out and Fromm wasn’t going to play forever. But Fields decided that Athens wasn’t the place for him.
Underclassmen can transfer and play immediately if they prove that something negatively affected them that was out of their control. Fields cited a racial incident that happened on campus that was directed towards him. No player should be subject to racism on campus or anywhere else but some questioned if this was a ploy to transfer immediately. Fields was granted his release and he left for Columbus to play for the Buckeyes.
Impact On Ohio State
With Dwayne Haskins off to the NFL, it was looking like Tate Martell would finally get his time as a starter. But once Justin Fields announced he was going to Ohio State, the Columbus community quickly turned their focus to the exciting new transfer. Tate Martell stated he would stay and compete for the starting job but within a few days he was transferring.
With Fields now at Ohio State, Martell was headed down to Miami and also granted immediate release allowing him to play in 2019. This has opened up free agency in college football but it hasn’t gone quite as planned for both quarterbacks.
Looking Towards 2019
Spring practice is wrapping up across the country and we finally got to see both quarterbacks in their new homes. Both were expected to come in and be the starters for the 2019 seasons. Justin Fields brought along all of the hype from Georgia and Tate Martell was finally going to fix the Miami QB problem. Until everyone actually started watching practice.
Fields has looked solid and is still learning a new system. The Spring game wasn’t great by any stretch but he is still on a new team working with receivers he hasn’t played with. Spring games are fun to watch but it is far from real football. The concepts are basic, the play calling is vanilla and it is just a fun showcase to see how players have grown or are coming along. So Fields having a poor stat line is great offseason talk, but nothing to worry about. He also did have some exciting moments.
a beautifully thrown ball to salvage the poor stat line a bit. He also added a touchdown on the ground and 40 yards rushing to show off his athleticism. Again, you would like to see more but this is nothing to worry about. Hurricane fans on the other hand should be concerned.
Struggles of Tate Martell
Martell has been criticized and bashed for most of the Spring. He has struggled connecting on passes in drills, his passes have regularly been off target and he hasn’t handled defensive pressure well. The dream of Martell coming in to be the savior that Miami hoped for is fading fast.
During the Spring game, Martell wasn’t the starter to lead the Hurricanes. Martell wasn’t the second string QB either. He was working with the third and fourth string lines because of how poorly he performed all Spring.
When you see Fields having some growing pains or not quite where you expected him is one thing. But Martell struggling in non-contact drills and working with the fourth line, there are serious issues.
The former Gatorade Player of the Year never lost a game in high school going a perfect 45-0. But now he seems to have lost the ability to continue playing at a high level. This could start to become more the norm with players transferring after only one year.
The Future of the Transfer Portal
Martell could just be an anomaly or he could end up being the first of many. Most players are not Trevor Lawrence when they enter the college ranks. Most sit for a year or two or spend a season using a redshirt before taking over. It gives them time to learn a system and develop chemistry with their teammates. If players start to bounce around, it starts the process all over again.
This doesn’t mean every player will have Martell level struggles either. Jalen Hurts will likely hit the ground running at Oklahoma and could be a Heisman finalist come seasons end. But this could stack the deck against kids who not only have to develop skills, but also adapt to the college game and grow both physically and mentally.
With the wide variety of offenses run in college football, it could be a tall task for a fifth year Senior to learn a new system. It could become even more difficult for the Redshirt Freshman still getting use to the college game. 2019 will be the perfect case study to see how the future of college football will go. Unless the NCAA makes some major changes, for better or worse, this is likely here to stay.
Started Saturday Tailgate in 2018. I have covered college football since 2017, wrote for Saturday Tailgate and Fansided. Covering all things Big 12 from recruiting to opinions on the best conference in college football.