Fields Finally Reaps What He's Sown
Fourth-Year Wideout Was Waiting for His Moment
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — It’s a funny thing about moments, you never know exactly when yours is going to come.
heads up the field after his first reception against Purdue
Photo by Jim Davidson
For some guys, it happens almost immediately – one big play or an unexpected opportunity to show what they can do as a youngster can often be enough to jumpstart an entire career.
That’s not at all the way it went for Ohio State wide receiver Chris Fields. After three-and-half years in the program, it looked like he might come and go without ever making much of an impact for the Buckeyes.
Then, just like that, his moment arrived.
“I want to thank God for the opportunity and for keeping me positive,” Fields said after making two key plays on Ohio State’s game-tying touchdown drive in the final minute of a 29-22 win over Purdue.
“I’m always pushing myself at each practice and telling myself that my opportunity will come, my moment will come. It did today.”
Most people had probably forgotten about Fields, who briefly emerged as the team’s punt returner a year ago but quickly disappeared into the background after Urban Meyer and the new staff took over in January.
The fourth-year junior out of Painesville Harvey did not have a catch in the first seven games of the year and had not played much on offense or special teams before coming up with a number of key plays to help Ohio State avoid the upset in Columbus.
His first was a 35-yard catch from Braxton Miller down the left sideline, which set up Carlos Hyde’s two-yard touchdown run to give the Buckeyes a 14-13 lead midway through the third quarter.
It was the longest catch of Fields’ career with the Buckeyes, but it was a couple yards shorter than it probably should have been, or at least than it needed to be.
“It’s been a couple games,” Fields said, shaking his head and laughing after he came up short of the goal line.
Chris Fields goes down short of the goal line after his encounter with the Turf Monster
Photo by Dan Harker
“I haven’t been on the field in a while so the Turf monster got me. I slipped up. That’s my bad.”
Despite the fact he has not been a part of Ohio State’s game plan since really back in the spring, Fields knew he might get a chance to play Saturday against Purdue. Even he couldn’t imagine the impact he would have, not only on the game, but also on Ohio State’s undefeated season.
“Honestly, I didn’t think at all,” Fields admitted afterward.
“I knew they had a couple packages in for me to get on the field, but I didn’t think I was going to get the opportunity to do what I did. I’m thankful and I’m ready.”
With just 11 catches to his name – most of which came last season when DeVier Posey was suspended – Fields stepped in for an injured Corey Brown on the final drive and made two huge, game-changing plays to help secure the victory.
The big was one only good for two yards, but the first touchdown catch of Fields’ four-year career was also the one that kept Ohio State’s undefeated season alive with just three seconds on the clock.
“I saw the man coverage and I knew my route was very crucial because that safety was so far into the end zone,” Fields said of his score at the end of regulation.
“I knew I needed to hurry and get out of my break.”
He ran an arrow route to the sideline and backup quarterback Kenny Guiton, in for the injured Braxton Miller, put the ball where only his receiver could catch it. Fields went down to the ground to make the play, but it was a close call that had to be reviewed by the officials.
“I knew I caught that one,” he said with absolute confidence, “I was just nervous they were going to cheat me.”
Chris Fields cradles the football after his crucial touchdown catch.
Photo by Jim Davidson
That’s exactly what a guy like Fields would probably expect to happen after everything he’s been through over the past four years since he signed with the Buckeyes back in February of 2009.
“It’s been a long journey,” he said, taking a moment to ponder everything.
“My story is just real … going through a bunch of position coaches and head coaches, it’s been hell. Not so much hell, but a lot of adversity. You just learn to adjust and adapt.”
According to reports, Fields nearly walked away from the team back in April after he was demoted to the second team offense in favor of Corey Brown, a third-year junior who surprisingly started spring practice with the twos.
Instead of quitting, Fields went to work, hoping to prove to Meyer and his new position coach, Zach Smith, that he was still guy who they could count on.
“Just working with special teams, hustling my butt off every day, just waiting on my moment and keeping a positive mindset and a little bit of faith,” said Fields, who also set up his game-tying touchdown grab with a key nine-yard punt return to start the drive.
“I knew there were would be a light at the end of the tunnel. I keep my faith and keep working, keep a positive attitude. That’s it.”
All that hard work produced very little results, at least on Saturday’s, during the first seven weeks of the season, but his number was finally called against Purdue on Saturday, Fields was ready.
“Chris Fields is a product of our program,” Meyer said after the win.
“Three weeks ago he wouldn't have been on the field. But he just changed his whole dynamic, the way he works, his practice habits and his performance.”
Fields tied for the team-high with three catches for 44 yards, including the touchdown. He also dropped a key ball over the middle of the field on a key third down play, but even that couldn’t ruin the magnitude of the moment, which had finally arrived.
“It was a special moment today,” he said.
“But my opportunity doesn’t stop here. I’m going to keep working.”
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