Ohio State QB Justin Fields declares for NFL draft, WR Chris Olave to return

Sam Cooper
·4 min read

Justin Fields is moving on to the NFL as expected.

The Ohio State quarterback announced Monday that he will forgo his remaining college eligibility and declare for the 2021 NFL draft. Monday is the deadline for underclassmen to formally submit themselves for early entry to the draft.

“Growing up, my dream was to one day play the game that I love at the highest level,” Fields wrote in a statement.

Fields is widely expected to be a first-round pick, potentially the No. 2 quarterback chosen behind Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. BYU’s Zach Wilson is also expected to be in the mix atop the draft. With Lawrence considered a shoo-in to go No. 1 to the Jacksonville Jaguars, Yahoo Sports’ Eric Edholm slotted Wilson at No. 2 to the New York Jets and Fields to the Atlanta Falcons at No. 4 in his most-recent NFL draft snapshot.

Fields, a five-star recruit in the 2018 class, began his career at Georgia. He was the backup to Jake Fromm as a freshman and decided to transfer to Ohio State. He lived up to his lofty recruiting rankings once he landed in Columbus under Buckeyes coach Ryan Day.

In 2019, Fields threw for 3,273 yards and 41 touchdowns with just three interceptions while completing 67.2% of his passes. He led the Buckeyes to a Big Ten title and to the College Football Playoff, where they fell in dramatic fashion to Clemson in the semifinals.

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields passes against Clemson during the second half of the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football game Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields passes against Clemson during the second half of the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football game Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Fields got OSU back to the CFP in 2020 even with the Big Ten playing a smaller number of games. Over an eight-game span, Fields threw for 2,100 yards, 22 touchdowns and six interceptions while completing 70.2% of his throws. He had a few rough games along the way, but turned in a spectacular performance against Clemson in a CFP semifinal rematch.

In a 49-28 win, Fields overcame a brutal first-half hit to the ribcage by throwing for 385 yards and six touchdowns to lead Ohio State to the national championship game. Fields and OSU fell to Alabama in the title game in what proved to be his final collegiate outing.

In his three college seasons, Fields threw for 5,701 yards, 67 touchdowns and nine interceptions with a completion percentage of 68.4. He also rushed for 1,133 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also twice finished in the top 10 of the Heisman Trophy voting: third in 2019 and seventh in 2020.

Who is next at QB for Ohio State?

Day has been recruiting at a high level since taking over for Urban Meyer at Ohio State.

Ohio State had two four-star 2020 recruits behind Fields on the depth chart in 2020. Late in the season, Jack Miller III was No. 2 on the depth chart with C.J. Stroud next in line. Stroud was rated as the No. 3 pro-style quarterback in the 2020 class, according to Rivals.com. Miller was No. 16 in Rivals’ pro-style QB rankings.

Ohio State signed another coveted QB recruit in the 2021 class in Kyle McCord. McCord, who played at St. Joe’s Prep in Philadelphia, is rated as the No. 30 recruit in the country and No. 3 at his position, per Rivals.

Those three will presumably have an open competition for the starting job next season.

Ohio State’s top WR to return

Whoever ends up winning the starting QB role for the Buckeyes will have the team’s top receiver on the field.

Chris Olave, who led OSU in receiving the past two seasons, announced Monday evening that he will return for his senior season and bypass the 2021 NFL draft. Olave caught 49 passes for 849 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2019 and followed that up with 50 catches for 729 yards and seven scores in just seven games in 2020.

Some projected Olave as a first or second-round draft choice.

Olave, paired with Garrett Wilson, will give Ohio State one of the top wide receiver duos in the country. Wilson had 43 catches for 723 yards and six touchdowns in 2020 as a sophomore.

Tackle Thayer Munford and tight end Jeremy Ruckert are two other notable returnees for the Buckeyes. Both are considered draftable players.

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