Justin Fields John Bazemore/Associated Press

Justin Fields' Transfer from Georgia Is the Latest in CFB's 5-Star QB Curse

Kerry Miller

The next time your favorite college football program wins the sweepstakes in the recruitment of a 5-star quarterback, try not to get too excited.

There's about a 60 percent chance he'll end up transferring one day.

With soon-to-be-former Georgia QB Justin Fields in the NCAA transfer portal and expected to take his talents elsewhere, that makes 11 of the 19 (57.9 percent) 247Sports Composite 5-star quarterbacks from 2010-18 who eventually transferred. That rate jumps to 69.2 percent if we ignore the current freshman and sophomore classes and just look at 2010-16.

An equally alarming statistic: 2018 is now the ninth consecutive recruiting class to have at least one 5-star QB transfer.

A lot of people were caught off guard by the news about Fields, but the writing was on the wall long before the fake punt gone horribly wrong in the SEC Championship. Last week, Fields was on my list of the noteworthy players most likely to transfer this offseason—as was 2017 5-star QB Davis Mills, who has yet to complete a pass in two seasons at Stanford and might make it 12 out of 19 5-star transfers soon.

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart made it clear that Jake Fromm is the quarterback he trusts. Fields appeared in 12 of 13 games, but he hardly took any snaps in Georgia's five games decided by fewer than 20 points. Smart completely wasted one of Fields' years of eligibility on garbage-time possessions against the likes of Austin Peay, Massachusetts and Middle Tennessee.

And with Fromm coming back for at least one more year—possibly two, depending on what the sophomore's 2020 draft stock is—there was no reason for Fields to expect any different next season. Rather than risk losing another year of eligibility as a backup at Georgia, it made sense for him to move on to greener pastures to get a fresh start in 2020.

Fields is expected to apply for a waiver to be ruled immediately eligible in 2019, but we'll assume we won't see him on the field again until 2020 until otherwise confirmed.

Justin Fields Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

But if he expected to be a starter right away, his decision to pick Georgia never made sense.

Fields committed in early October, 2017, when 2016 5-star QB Jacob Eason was still on the roster (although injured) and Fromm was looking solid. Fields had another two months to mull over his decision before signing, but did it early anyway. 

Even after Eason transferred to Washington, it was unlikely Fields would supplant Fromm as the starter, and he never did.

Fields also took an official visit to LSU, which seems like it would've been the perfect situation. With Danny Etling graduating and Myles Brennan nowhere near the secure starter Fromm was at Georgia, Fields could've gone down to the bayou, started immediately and potentially led the Tigers to the College Football Playoff. It's not a far-fetched theory, considering they won nine games in spite of Ohio State transfer Joe Burrow's mediocre play.

Maybe Fields was happier with the coaching staff and the campus in Athens, but he should have known from the projected depth chart that he wouldn't start at Georgia as a freshman.

While Fields' outcome was a bit predictable, most of the other 5-star quarterbacks who make up the 11-of-19 statistic were in less obvious eventual-transfer scenarios.

Jeff Driskel (No. 1 QB in 2011) played for four seasons at Florida before going to Louisiana Tech as a graduate transfer. Because of that, he probably shouldn't count against this group as a transfer any more than Braxton Miller (No. 2 QB in 2011) should for switching to wide receiver for his final year at Ohio State.

Blake Barnett (No. 2 QB in 2015) seemed to play things exactly right at Alabama by redshirting while Jake Coker played his final season, only for Jalen Hurts (No. 13 QB in 2016) to come in and unexpectedly take the reins as a true freshman.

Shea Patterson with Ole Miss Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Shea Patterson (No. 1 QB in 2016) probably would've stayed at Ole Miss if not for the bowl ban and the subsequent ability to transfer without sitting out a year.

Likewise, Eason (No. 2 QB in 2016) would likely still be the starter at Georgia were it not for the injury he suffered in the 2017 season opener.

Phillip Sims (No. 1 QB in 2010) and Max Browne (No. 1 QB in 2013) had no good reason to assume that redshirt freshmen A.J. McCarron and Cody Kessler, respectively, were going to lock down starting jobs for the next three years.

Similar situations for Kyle Allen (No. 1 QB in 2014) and Hunter Johnson (No. 2 QB in 2017), who saw a potential opening for programs looking for a new QB after losing Johnny Manziel and Deshaun Watson, but who got boxed out by previously scarcely-used Kenny Hill and Kelly Bryant.

Aside from Fields, the only guys who should have known they were entering into backup situations were Gunner Kiel (No. 2 QB in 2012) and Kyler Murray (No. 3 QB in 2015). Kiel never took a snap at Notre Dame while watching Tommy Rees and Everett Golson battle for the starting job, and Murray went to Texas A&M one year after Allen did and had to know it was the 2014 5-star QB's job to lose.

Because those situations are the exceptions rather than the rule, it's starting to feel like these 5-star quarterbacks are cursed.

This isn't some epidemic of high school phenoms being arrogant and thinking they can beat a senior starter in an offseason position battle, nor is it an issue of kids being ignorant and committing to a school that already has its quarterback of the future in place. It's just poor fortune that there are several 5-star duds for every 5-star stud, like Tua Tagovailoa, who has panned out beautifully without transferring.

So best of luck to Oklahoma with Spencer Rattler, the only 5-star QB in the 2019 class. It would be a true outlier if the Sooners hung onto him for four years, though, especially considering they have turned former transfers into back-to-back Heisman winners.

                   

Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Kerry Miller covers college football and men's college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @kerrancejames.

   
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