Justin Fields is a college football super star and one of the best known athletes in the United States, period. He is a Heisman Trophy frontrunner, the quarterback and leader of a national title contender in Ohio State and, during the off-season when prospects were dire and hope running low, he rallied the Big Ten and its partisans around the cause and helped save college football’s 151st season.

ESPN lead analyst Kirk Herbstreit says everything Fields has stood for during his time in Columbus, including his open commitment to the college cause as opposed to speculating against a future in professional football, makes him a great teammate to marshal forces around and follow into the fray. 

Herbstreit went on Sportscenter Thursday and heaped on a heavy serving of the praise. 

“You rally around (people like him). 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.”

Fields is coming off a year in which he accounted for 51 touchdowns and threw just 3 interceptions, leading the Buckeyes to a 13-1 record, a conference title and a College Football Playoff appearance. His second season in Columbus begins on Saturday, as Ohio State hosts Nebraska.

The Buckeyes, behind Fields, are favored to win the Big Ten and join the country’s elite in the College Football Playoff.