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Football: Justin Fields becomes Day’s first quarterback

Head coach Ryan Day speaks during the Ohio State offensive availability at the Residence Inn LA Live on Dec. 29. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo Editor

Ryan Day has not had his quarterback yet.

In his two seasons as the quarterbacks coach at Ohio State, being promoted into the offensive coordinator role in 2018 after sharing the position with Kevin Wilson in 2017 and now the 25th head coach in school history, quarterbacks have been provided for Day in J.T. Barrett and Dwayne Haskins.

Day has still been integral to each quarterback’s success over the past two seasons: with Barrett recording a career high in passing yards, touchdowns and completion percentage in 2017 and Haskins becoming Ohio State’s first Heisman finalist since 2006.

But neither Haskins nor Barrett are quarterbacks that came to Ohio State for Day. The Buckeyes did not plan to have that until four-star 2020 commit Jack Miller enrolls after 2019 four-star quarterback recruit Dwan Mathis rescinded his commitment from the Buckeyes on the early signing day, signing his letter of intent with Georgia.

However, on Friday, Day got his first guy.  

Justin Fields, the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback and the No. 2 recruit in the 2018 class, announced on Twitter he would transfer to Ohio State after his freshman season a Georgia, joining Day and the Buckeye offense for the 2019 season.

With in-game experience with the Bulldogs, completing 69.2 percent of his passes for 328 yards, recording 266 yards on the ground while averaging 6.3 yards per carry and recording eight total touchdowns in 2018, Fields becomes the most experienced quarterback on Ohio State’s roster heading into a 2019 season without Haskins.

Prior to Fields’ arrival, the assumed heir to Haskins’ starting job was now-redshirt sophomore Tate Martell, the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the 2017 class, recruited and committed to Ohio State prior to Day’s arrival.

Martell played in three of the first four games for Ohio State during the 2018 season, completing 23 of 28 passes for 269 yards, with 128 rushing yards, averaging 5.8 yards per carry, and three total touchdowns.

But after completing 10-of-14 passes for 115 yards against Tulane, Martell’s season was pretty much complete, sparingly utilized late in the season as a change-of-pace quarterback for the Buckeyes in the red zone, something that was not considered successful.

Throughout bowl practice, much of Martell’s attention has been on Fields and what his role would be when he arrived to Columbus.

But the attention was not one that he felt put Fields above him in the depth chart. Martell said he does not want Fields to make another bad decision: leaving Georgia for Ohio State to win the starting quarterback job, but not being able to beat Martell.

“I feel great out there every time I do go out there with the ones. Coach Meyer throws me out there with the ones all the time,” Martell said. “That’s just my opinion on it. I just don’t want him to make a bad decision because he is going to go somewhere where he is going to play. When you transfer, you are going to play and by all means, I’ll be cool. You can come in and do what you got to do.”

Martell said, learning Day’s offense, which he considered to be pro style, was very difficult. He said he has been thankful for the past two seasons, watching both Haskins and Barrett utilize the offense, seeing the example that he can use on the field in 2019.

And it was something Martell was willing to wait for, saying, “there are probably a ton of other schools I could be staring for right now.”

Now, Martell said he has the confidence in the offense, he has the confidence of the newly named head coach and he is 100 percent sure he will be able to perform in the starting quarterback role.

“At this point, when I go out there, I am going to go out there and put on a show,” Martell said.

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