When the subject of Ohio State having a competition to be the starting quarterback this preseason, Justin Fields came across as perhaps the least-concerned person on the field at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on Sunday afternoon.
“(Head coach Ryan) Day told me before I came here it just wasn't going to be given to me, so I definitely think we're all trying to get that starting spot, of course, but we're just going to take it day by day and just just try to improve every day as a team,” said Fields.
>>RELATED: Day explains when he will name a starter
A five-star recruiting the class of 2018, Fields transferred from Georgia in January after serving as the Bulldogs’ No. 2 quarterback last fall.
He is joined in the quarterbacks room by Gunnar Hoak, a transfer from Kentucky, and Chris Chugunov, who arrived last summer after beginning his career at West Virginia. Along with that trio of scholarship players, Ohio State has walk-ons Daniel Vanatsky, Jagger LaRoe and JP Andrade working under new position coach Mike Yurcich.
“I don't try to think about it as the battle,” Fields said. “Like I'm not thinking I have to do better than this guy and this guy. I'm just focusing on us as a whole, us as an offense and just trying to get better each and every day.”
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The 6-foot-3, 223-pounder said he has improved immensely since the end of spring practice, largely from working with receivers nearly every day after summer lifting sessions.
“I think I'm way better just in terms of fundamentals, throwing-wise,” he said. “Just kind of stay in the pocket, pocket presence and all of that. I think I've improved a lot from spring.”
Day has said he will name a starter when someone has earned the job, and that is fine with Fields even though he presumably didn’t leave one power program where he was a backup to fill the same role somewhere else.
Ohio State needs a new starter after Dwayne Haskins went pro early, and Fields is the perceived first choice not only because of his recruiting stature but because his top competition, 2018 backup Tate Martell and highly-regarded freshman Matthew Baldwin, transferred out earlier this year.
On top of learning the offense, Fields said he is trying to take a leadership role — but doing so carefully.
“Everyone on the team knows the quarterback has to be a leader,” he said, “So I’m kind of just taking that step, (but) when you come into a new place, you can't just come in and just act like you're a leader. You have to get used to the guys and build relationships with them so they trust you, and then you can kind of step out and become a leader.”
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