COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Saying Justin Fields has "taken command of the team" this preseason, Ohio State coach Ryan Day on Monday named Fields the Buckeyes' starting quarterback for their opener against Florida Atlantic on Aug. 31.
"It's been obvious to everybody, especially the guys on the team, that Justin has stepped up in these last few weeks and been the kind of playmaker and leader we need at quarterback," Day told ESPN. "He also understands that this is just for the first game. Who knows what happens from here, but we're excited about all of the options he gives us at quarterback and the skill set he has. We're just getting started in what all we think he can do."
Fields, who played last season at Georgia before electing to transfer and gaining a waiver from the NCAA to be eligible to play right away, beat out graduate transfers Gunnar Hoak and Chris Chugunov for the job. Day said last week that Fields was having some of his best practices.
"His reads and his eyes have been much better, where he's going with the football ... his timing and understanding the offense," Day said. "I also think he's getting a better feel for throwing in the pocket."
A 6-foot-3, 223-pound sophomore, Fields was used more as a runner than a passer at Georgia, but Day and first-year passing game coordinator Mike Yurcich want to broaden Fields' role as the Buckeyes' quarterback.
"When you get the hang of the playbook, you can play faster and the game kind of slows down," Fields said. "Instead of reacting, you're anticipating what's going to happen."
Fields was a five-star prospect coming out of high school in Kennesaw, Georgia, and ESPN's No. 1-ranked overall prospect nationally in the 2018 signing class. Fields was Jake Fromm's backup last season at Georgia and entered his name into the transfer portal following the SEC championship game.
"He can run it and can throw it, and that's dangerous for a defense," Ohio State senior receiver K.J. Hill said. "It's hard to game plan for a guy like Justin, and all that's going to do is open up things for us. We can do a lot more things with him being back there."
"We'll let those guys keep learning the offense. ... as we get closer to the game, we'll decide if Justin were to come out of the game, who would go in next," Day said.