New Attitude Leads to New Results for Chris Fields
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Entering his fifth year as a Buckeye, receiver Chris Fields knows that this coming season will be his last chance to take the field in the Scarlet and Gray. It will also be his last chance to have the impact that he finally believes he is capable of having.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Though he only has 15 catches in his career, his touchdown catch in the final seconds against Purdue last season has assured him a positive place in Ohio State football lore. However nice that one catch may be, it's not enough for Fields, and it's not enough for the Buckeyes.
Nothing has come easily for Fields at Ohio State. He was a dynamic high school receiver, but has struggled to find a role throughout his Buckeye career. With his sparse production, and a new coaching staff entering the picture last season, rumors of transferring swirled around Fields like debris in a windstorm, but he is still here.
"I'm used to adversity," he said.
"And when you go through adversity, you try to overcome it and try to work harder, and that's what I've been doing each year. Every time I go through something, I always keep a positive mentality that there's always going to be a light at the end of the tunnel.
"I'm not going to stop working. I'm not going to quit on myself. I've been working my butt off the last winter and the offseason, just trying to get my mechanics right, and it's been paying off since then."
Fields admits that he stumbled out of the gate when Urban Meyer was hired, which hindered him for much of last season. After all, it's hard to reshape a coach's first thoughts of you when you are an upperclassman.
"Last year I didn't have a good first impression when Coach Meyer came here," he said. "And that led to camp being with the twos, and I just faded away.
"Last spring I wasn't really having fun. I was thinking too much about on and off the field stuff. I wasn't really glued into my right mindset. I'm having fun now, that's the thing. I'm muting everything outside the field, and so it's been good."
Fields, who started eight games in 2011, couldn't get out of his own head for much of last season, and he was never able to fully commit himself to the team as much as his coaches wanted him to. Then came the Purdue game.
Fields entered that game with zero catches. He finished it with three catches for 44 yards and a game-tying diving touchdown catch that sent the game to overtime, eventually preserving Ohio State's undefeated season.
That catch almost wasn't a catch, however. It was reviewed for several minutes, and when the call finally came down and the touchdown stood, Fields raised his arms in equal parts joy and relief. He had just scored the touchdown that could save the season, and it was the biggest moment of his career.
Fields cradles the football after making the catch against Prudue.
Photo by Jim Davidson
That game ended up giving him a shot of confidence that he carried with him into the offseason. It recalibrated his belief in himself, and it continues to pay dividends to this day.
"It gives me a lot of confidence," he said of that game and that catch.
"Every time I go out there on that field I always try to make a big play. I go out there and I think to myself that I deserve to be out here. I've been here this long, and I've been working this hard, and I know I'll have a chance, and when the chance comes I'm just going to grab it and run with it."
Fields has gotten that chance this spring with Jordan Hall suffering a minor hamstring injury. He has made plays every week in practice, which concluded with him scoring a touchdown for both the Scarlet and Gray teams in the Spring Game.
Despite the doubts in his past, Fields was confident that good things were on their way, which is why he has stuck it out in Columbus.
"I never was going to quit on Ohio State," he said.
"I love Ohio State no matter what. I always told myself that I wanted to go to Ohio State since high school, and I wasn't going to quit on myself. I just wasn't raised like that. I was raised that I'm going to work, I'm going to go through adversity at times, but I know that there's going to be a light at the end of the time. And there has been. It's been a good outcome since then."
His attitude re-adjustment hasn't been lost on his teammates.
"Chris took a big stride this offseason," said Philly Brown.
"He worked harder than I've ever seen him work before. It's really showing on the field. He's out there making those plays that maybe he wouldn't have made a couple of years ago. He's becoming a guy that everybody can count on."
"He's buying into the program," added Devin Smith.
"This is his last year and he's doing everything he can to leave his mark and I think he's doing a very good job."
His teammates can see the work that he has put in, and the production that has come with it. But more importantly, Urban Meyer has noticed as well. Meyer went ahead and named Fields a starter following a very solid spring.
Photo by Jim Davidson
"Chris Fields, I'm going to name him a starter today," Meyer said following the Spring Game.
"I told him I would if he finished the spring. Chris Fields has earned a starting spot on the offense, which is amazing. He's a wonderful guy that last year was very inconsistent. I know Tom Herman feels the same way. So he's earned a starting spot."
The light at the end of this tunnel has found Fields moving up the depth chart and into a starter's role. It may be a recent adjustment for Meyer, but it's something that Fields has been working non-stop for during the offseason.
This may be the Chris Fields' final season, but his contribution to the Ohio State football team may just be getting started.
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