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Kirk Herbstreit Describes How Much Justin Fields Means To The Big Ten

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields scrambles against Clemson.

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 28: Justin Fields #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes runs the ball against the Clemson Tigers in the first half during the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium on December 28, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Everybody knows how important Justin Fields is to Ohio State. However, Kirk Herbstreit believes he's essential to the Big Ten as a whole.

During the offseason, Fields not only made it clear he wouldn't be opting out of the 2020 season, he organized a petition to get the Big Ten to reconsider its decision to postpone. The Heisman Trophy candidate and projected 2021 first-round draft pick was a prominent voice for the return of college football.

Because of this, Herbstreit contended during a Thursday appearance on SportsCenter that Fields is a ringleader for the conference, not just the Buckeyes.

“You rally around (people like him),” Herbstreit said Thursday, via 247Sports. “That’s your guy, your outlet and your leader. Instead of him worried about draft status -- Where do I line up? Should I opt out? -- Justin Fields is about as real as they come. I spent time with him yesterday for a feature on GameDay, and I was impressed with him last year transferring from Georgia and picking up Ryan Day’s offense and the way he led his team. As far as maturity, he’s unselfish and is all about growing and developing the players around him. He’s dropped a ton of weight. He’s doing all the right things. When your guy is out there not just for your team but an entire conference, it’s easy to rally around him.”

Last season, Justin Fields passed for 3,273 yards and 41 touchdowns against only three interceptions. He added 484 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground.

It is hard to believe that Fields can improve on those stats, but onetime Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer thinks it's possible. This week, Meyer said the former five-star recruit became a better passer during the offseason.

"He came in as a dual-threat quarterback — he was a runner that threw very well,” Meyer said. “Now, he is a quarterback that just happens to be Braxton Miller fast, is as electric of a runner as Braxton was. That’s what I’m hearing. That’s what I saw.

“He’s a little thicker than Braxton. What you have, if it’s even possible, is a Braxton Miller athlete that throws like a Dwayne Haskins. And if that’s possible, you’re talking about arguably — you know, I know Trevor Lawrence is there and (tight end) Kyle Pitts from Florida who I personally think is the best non-quarterback player in America — you’re talking about the best player in America. If he can actually do what I’m hearing he can do, there’s no stopping this guy.”

Fields and the Buckeyes open the 2020 season against Nebraska on Saturday.