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When Justin Fields committed to Penn State back in December, he was considered one of the top quarterback recruits in the country.

Six months later, he’s known as one of the top prospects, period. And with that increased notoriety, he’ll be opening up his recruitment to explore his options.

Fields announced Tuesday night that he has decommitted from Penn State and will consider the Nittany Lions along with several of the country’s other top programs.

“This is probably the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make,” Fields wrote on Twitter. “…My decision to reopen my recruitment is in no way a reflection of any deficiencies of PSU, its coaches, players or fans. I still believe that PSU is a great academic and athletic opportunity for any student athlete and it will remain one of the top schools that I would consider.”

Though teams are prohibited to mention specific recruits until they sign, Lions coach James Franklin also took to social media shortly after Fields’ message, working with broad strokes.

I love our staff, players, commits & community! I believe in Penn State, our past, our present & our FUTURE! pic.twitter.com/zlE0QmXHbW— James Franklin (@coachjfranklin) June 7, 2017

Penn State’s resurgence in 2016 — particularly on offense under coordinator Joe Moorhead — helped the Lions land a commitment from Fields shortly before they won the Big Ten title and earned a trip to the Rose Bowl. Given that Fields hails from Kennesaw, Ga., it was something of a coup for the Lions to snag a highly regarded quarterback from the heart of SEC country.

At 6-foot-3 and adept at running the type of shotgun spread scheme that Penn State now runs, Fields turned heads as a junior at Harrison High School.

Since the end of his junior season, he has seen his profile skyrocket, checking in as a five-star recruit and the No. 6 overall prospect nationally in the 247Sports Composite rankings — and the No. 1 dual threat quarterback.

Auburn, Florida, Florida State and Georgia are all considered top contenders for Fields, who can first sign with a college in December under the NCAA’s new recruiting rules.

Penn State’s 2016 success helped vault the Lions to the top of the national recruiting rankings for the 2018 cycle. But holding onto some of the country’s best prospects has proved difficult. Fellow five-star recruit, Harrisburg pass rusher Micah Parsons, decommitted earlier in the spring, as did Wyoming Valley West offensive lineman Chris Bleich.

Fields was the third member to leave the class, which now sits at 12 players and ranks No. 5 in the country.

“I know that I will disappoint some people by my decision and for that I apologize,” Fields wrote. “This decision was not easily made. I ask for your prayers as I continue to seek God’s will and direction for the next step in my life.”

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