In the final buildup to the early signing period, Florida State's biggest target might have just come on the market.
Georgia quarterback Justin Fields.
He's not a recruit anymore, but the Bulldogs freshman is still a five-star talent. He will likely be transferring from Athens, USA Today reported Monday evening. And there's even a path for him to become eligible immediately at his new school, as Sports Illustrated explains here.
If he leaves (neither Fields nor Georgia have publicly commented yet), FSU would be a logical, possible destination. Assuming Fields transfers, let's look at some reasons why he might be interested in the Seminoles and some things that might give him pause.
FSU needs help at quarterback. Deondre Francois struggled; his passing efficiency (121.69) was 90th in the nation. That number and the rest of the offense's problems weren't all his fault (we'll get to later), but he didn't seem like the right fit for coach Willie Taggart. It's worth noting, too, that Francois graduated this month, so he's eligible to transfer elsewhere and play immediately. If Francois chooses to do so, FSU's need at quarterback will be even more glaring, giving Fields an even easier route to the starting job.
FSU is close to his home in the Atlanta area.
The Seminoles recruited him heavily before he committed to Georgia, so there is some familiarity (even if much of that recruiting took place with the previous coaching staff).
Fields' dual-threat abilities would fit Taggart's system well. Taggart's most successful season came with USF's Quinton Flowers, who was as dangerous with his legs as his arm. Fields is even more talented than Flowers — he's one of the top prospects of the modern recruiting era —which means Taggart should be able to highlight his strengths effectively.
He might have better options. ESPN reported that Ohio State and Oklahoma are among his possible other landing spots. One of those teams is in the College Football Playoff. The other one just missed it. Both of their quarterbacks from this season where Heisman Trophy finalists; the Sooners' Kyler Murray won it. FSU, meanwhile, has won 12 games over its last two seasons. That makes it a harder sell.
FSU's offensive line was bad. Quarterbacks need effective blockers to meet their potential, and the Seminoles' line has struggled recently, reaching a nadir last season. It should improve this season — perhaps even dramatically — with the addition of some new prospects and better injury luck. But if I'm in Fields' position, I'd view the leaky line as my biggest concern with FSU.
There's some coaching uncertainty. The 'Noles haven't named a new offensive coordinator yet (don't be surprised if an announcement comes later this week). Maybe that doesn't matter much, because that will be addressed before the second semester starts. But what about Taggart's future after a disastrous first season? I'd expect Taggart to be in Tallahassee for at least two more seasons, which would be long enough for Fields to be three-and-done, but I wouldn't bet my car on it. How much would that matter to Fields?
Contact Matt Baker at [email protected] Follow @MBakerTBTimes