Will Justin Fields Return to Ohio State in 2021?

Nov 21, 2020; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields (1) throws during the second quarter against the Indiana Hoosiers at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 21, 2020; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields (1) throws during the second quarter against the Indiana Hoosiers at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports /

Justin Fields is projected to be a top-5 pick for a QB-needy team in the NFL Draft come April 2021. Most people expect him to do just that, immediately becoming the face of the lucky NFL franchise that would land him. But is that 100% going to happen? I wouldn’t go that far.

While probably unlikely, I think there’s a world where Justin Fields returns to start at Ohio State in 2021. Call me crazy, call me a hopeful fan, whatever you’d like, but hear me out.

Rewind to four months ago. The 2020 college football season was cloudy with uncertainty.  Nobody was really sure yet if they were going to play, other than the SEC who was adamant they would pull it off (and successfully have, to this point).

Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence was the most notable and impactful player vouching for all the athletes wanting to have a season. When the ACC announced they were having a season, Lawrence was satisfied and removed his shining armor.

At the same time, the Big Ten announced they were canceling the fall football season.  Buckeye fans saw the writing on the wall: they may only get a single season out of arguably the best QB to ever don the scarlet and gray in Fields.

While Nebraska coach Scott Frost and Buckeye headman Ryan Day led the rebellion from a Coaches and Administrators perspective, it was Fields who really took the reigns and made headlines as the voice of the Big Ten players who were robbed of a season.

Fields was active on social media, advocating for his teammates and conference opponents to play, using the hashtag #WeWantToPlay. He started a petition that received 300,000 signatures to reverse the cancellation of the season. The Buckeyes’ QB1 even made appearances on ABC’s Good Morning America for a live interview, in addition to a radio interview on ESPN Radio.

During a time when 2021 NFL Draft hopefuls, such as Penn State LB Micah Parsons, Michigan WR Nico Collins, and Purdue WR Rondale Moore, chose to opt-out, call their college careers quits, and train for the Draft, Fields could’ve easily done the same.

Instead, he led the Big Ten players’ efforts to reverse the cancellation, showing his passion for the Ohio State football program and university.  When he was asked why he never chose to opt-out, Fields said “getting to the money as fast as I can isn’t really a priority for me.”

That quote still stands out to me. Fields knows that when he wants to, he’ll be a multimillionaire in the NFL. But he’s in no hurry to do so.

Could Justin Fields return to Ohio State and improve his draft stock?

Which leads me to my final point. A lot of what Fields decides to do in 2021 will ultimately depend on what happens the rest of this season. Fields has said over and over throughout his career at Ohio State that his two main goals at OSU are to win a National Championship and the Heisman Trophy.

If Fields accomplishes either of those, he’s more than likely going to the NFL without a doubt. But the more the season plays on, the further those two seem to become from being a reality.

Just two weeks ago, Fields was the Heisman frontrunner, and the Buckeyes looked like a team with some pretty good National Title odds. Then came Indiana, where Fields had a lackluster performance, and the Buckeyes pass defense was horrendous.

Consequently, Fields’ odds for the Heisman has dropped rather significantly, while giving way to the new, current frontrunners, Florida’s Kyle Trask and Alabama’s Mac Jones.

Then just a few days ago, the Buckeyes’ game against Illinois was canceled. That means if either of their final two games, against Michigan State and Michigan, gets canceled, they’d be ineligible for the Big Ten Championship game against Northwestern due to not playing the minimum eligibility requirement of six games. In that scenario, it would make it very, very hard for the CFP committee to justify putting the Buckeyes in the playoff.

With the way things have started to shape out in the last couple of weeks, I think the chances Fields turns pro after the season has dwindled a bit. Granted, it may be from a 99% chance to a 90% chance. But it’s dwindled.

With how weird this season has been, from a shortened season to games being canceled, to Notre Dame actually looking competent, I’m just saying I wouldn’t be surprised if Fields wanted one last go-around next year.

And if the Michigan game gets canceled on December 12th, I think that 90% chance drops even further to 80%. Because that’s how you become a Buckeye legend; beating the brakes off Michigan. Only one game against the Blue may not be enough to satisfy the competitiveness Fields has.

Next. Does Justin Fields still have a shot at the Heisman?. dark

And I know, a lot of you may think there’s no way he returns since he’s projected to be a top-5 pick.  But as Fields has said, getting to the money as fast as possible isn’t a priority to him. No Natty? No Heisman? No Michigan game? No NFL for Fields in 2021. Heard it here first.