As Jim McElwain tries to rebuild Florida football into a championship program, one of his mottos is “recruit daily or die.” Join us here on SEC Country for a daily recap of the latest Florida recruiting news, tales from the trail and perspective on what it all means for the Gators.
Justin Fields‘ options
Every school recruiting 5-star quarterback Justin Fields is selling him on being a program-changing player who can make an immediate impact.
But which program offers Fields the easiest path to playing time?
The nation’s No. 1 dual-threat passer from Harrison High (Kennesaw, Ga.) is focusing on five SEC teams at this stage in his recruitment. Below are the current QB depth charts for each school.
- Jalen Hurts, sophomore (4-star recruit)
- Tua Tagovailoa, true freshman (4-star recruit)
- Mac Jones, true freshman (3-star recruit)
- Jarrett Stidham, redshirt sophomore (4-star recruit)
- Sean White, junior (4-star recruit)
- Malik Willis, true freshman (3-star recruit)
- Malik Zaire, redshirt senior (4-star recruit)
- Feleipe Franks, redshirt freshman (4-star recruit)
- Luke Del Rio, redshirt junior (3-star recruit)
- Kyle Trask, redshirt freshman (3-star recruit)
- Jake Allen, true freshman (3-star recruit)
- Kadarius Toney, true freshman (3-star recruit)
- Deondre Francois, redshirt sophomore (4-star recruit)
- J.J. Cosentino, redshirt junior (4-star recruit)
- Bailey Hockman, true freshman (4-star recruit)
- James Blackman, true freshman (3-star recruit)
- Jacob Eason, sophomore (5-star recruit)
- Jake Fromm, true freshman (4-star recruit)
- Brice Ramsey, senior (4-star recruit)
Analysis: A lot of factors at play here. No. 1, there’s a strong possibility that Fields will have to compete as a true freshman against a 2017 starter no matter where he goes. Barring attrition, Alabama and Georgia will definitely return their starters. The Bulldogs, however, will have just two players at the position. Auburn and FSU’s quarterbacks could possibly turn pro as redshirt sophomores, but Stidham and Francois would both need spectacular seasons this year.
Then there’s Florida. The Gators have more quarterbacks on their roster than any other team Fields is considering, but Florida’s average player rating at the position is the lowest of the five finalists. UF could also be looking for a new starter in 2018 if Zaire wins the job this season and plays well enough to enter next year’s draft. Who is most likely to turn pro after 2017: Francois, Stidham or Zaire? Fields may be waiting to determine that this fall.
There’s no doubt that Fields is evaluating the depth charts at each school and trying to find the best situation for him. However, the opportunity to start as a true freshman will not make or break Fields’ decision.
“I know some great quarterbacks redshirt their freshman year just to learn the system and get a close relationship with the receivers. So, it’s not really a big factor, playing my first year,” Fields told SEC Country. “The most important factor is how well I fit into the academics, how the family environment is there and just having a great relationship with the coaches.”
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