The 2019 Fiesta Bowl will kick off Saturday evening in Glendale.
The matchup of No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Clemson has been one that fans across the nation have been anticipating for months. Now, it’s finally almost here.
In a game of this magnitude, there are always dozens of intriguing storylines to watch. This week has been no exception.
Both the Buckeyes’ and Tigers’ rosters are loaded with future NFL stars, and both are riding historic win streaks.
Dabo Swinney is looking to continue building its impressive championship dynasty, while OSU’s Ryan Day is trying to lay the groundwork for one of his own.
Here’s a run through some of the other interesting stories you may have missed this week.
From Baseball Fields To Football
Justin Fields was one of the highest-ranked quarterback prospects of the last decade, but he was also a top-flight baseball player as well.
Fields played baseball all the way through high school, only stopping when he graduated high school early to enroll at Georgia in January 2018. At the time, he was ranked as one of the top 250 players in his class.
Fields said that the skills he developed on the diamond have helped him be a better quarterback.
“I think baseball helps a lot in the game of football, really just making those plays on the run, like shortstop. That’s what I played when I played baseball. I think fielding those ground balls and throwing on the run at shortstop helped me a lot with throwing on the run,” said Fields.
He hasn’t played for a couple years, but wasn’t totally ready to say he was hanging up his baseball spikes for good.
“I might pick up baseball again. I haven’t decided that one yet, so we’ll see about that one.”
Triple Teaming Chase
Chase Young has put together some of the most dominant games in Ohio State history this year.
He tied the school record with four sacks against Wisconsin in October, then had another three against Penn State. But he was held without a sack against both Michigan and in the Big Ten Championship Game. So what happened? Young says teams decided that whatever happened, they weren’t going to let him beat them.
“As you watch the game, I was getting double, triple-teamed every play. I feel like that’s a respect thing,” he said.
But more attention for Young meant less blockers available for everyone else on the Buckeyes’ defense.
“It definitely gives my guys on the other side a chance to get the one-on-one and make the play,” Young said.
The Buckeyes have spent the last few weeks giving Young that kind of look.
“In practice, we do everything to prepare for a double or triple team,” he said. “We just know that if I’m getting doubled or tripled, then we’re going to have some one-on-ones over. We have to step up and win them.”
Life as an Ohio State student-athlete can have its challenges. You’re tasked with balancing a full class load with daily practice, treatment, film study, game travel, and more.
And sometimes one of those classes is taught by someone with an active sense of humor.
Junior right guard Wyatt Davis is in one of those this fall. Earlier this month, he tweeted out a photo of communications professor Lanier Holt wearing a Clemson shirt to class. Davis said it has become something of a quirky tradition.
— Wavy Dub™ (@wyattdavis53) December 9, 2019
“When we played Indiana, he was wearing all types of Indiana gear,” Davis said. “He’s a big Minnesota guy – that the whole week, if he had football players in his class, the whole week leading up to the game, he would be nonstop wearing Minnesota gear.”
Most people assume that football players get preferential treatment in class, but Davis said that Holt had a little fun with him as soon as he showed up for the first class.
“That was really the only class where the professor immediately, the first day, he knew exactly who I was, where I was from, knew all my social media,” Davis said. “I mean, he was posting dance videos that I had up.”
Davis has the perfect sense of humor and oversized personality to appreciate Holt’s antics.
“I was not expecting that,” Davis said. “Usually it’s just standard student-professor relationship. But he took it to a whole other level.”
Trevor Lawrence Goes Grocery Shopping
Being a star player on a college football team comes with plenty of perks, but it can also be a hassle at times, too.
Like when you just want to run out and grab a loaf of bread at the grocery store and get mobbed by people asking for photos or autographs.
“Tried to go a couple times in the middle of the day. Didn’t get any shopping done,” said Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
On the field, Lawrence is known for his elusiveness and ability to avoid the rush. But that’s apparently tougher to do when you’re stuck in the canned goods aisle.
So like any good quarterback, Lawrence called an audible.
“Actually, just try to go late at night,” he said. “Just go right before something closes – get in, get out.”
Lawrence said that Publix is his grocery store of choice. That’s an endorsement that could be worth quite a bit of cash to him once the NCAA finally passes the proposed name, image, and likeness legislation.