MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Tony Fields has been a huge asset to the West Virginia defense so far this season. He is the team’s leading tackler with 19 tackles.
The Mountaineer had his first interception and returned it 22 yards on Saturday when he picked off Oklahoma State quarterback Shane Illingworth.
” I was just dropping over the quarterback,” he said. “I read his eyes and he tried to look me off and I saw the dig coming right back over top of me so I slid underneath and there it was from there.”
Fields’ immediate impact is just what the WVU defense needed to build off last season’s success.
During quarantine, the 6-foot-1, 220-pound linebacker decided he needed to make a change that would be best for him and his football career. That change led him home to those country roads.
“When I was back home because of the coronavirus it was just a family decision,” Fields said. “Me and my father were talking about it all of the time, and I just decided it was best for me to move on and try to go to a different team to help my career and I ended up at West Virginia. I love the school. I had a great relationship with coach (Jahmile) Addae because he recruited me to the University of Arizona.”
Addae wasn’t the only person who helped persuade Fields to become a Mountaineer, fellow Arizona transfer and safety Scottie Young played a role in getting the Desert Pines graduate to Morgantown.
“I talked to Scottie before I even thought about coming here because he was already here,” Field said. “He had already told me about the team atmosphere, and I had a grasp of everything that was going on so that actually did make the decision easy.”
While West Virginia and Arizona are completely different worlds, the Arizona graduate transfer is acclimating well.
“I like nature, so coming out here to West Virginia wasn’t a real problem for me. I like the trees and the atmosphere here,” he said. “It’s good to get away from the heat every now and then. I’m expecting the cold coming up soon so I don’t know how I’m going to feel about that, though.”
Ultimately, Fields wanted to do what was most beneficial in getting to the next level. WVU and Arizona are different defensive schemes and the Mountaineers’ scheme is a little tougher then what the Las Vegas native is used to.
“The defensive scheme is a lot more complex,” he said. “The defensive line does a little more moving and that’s really the big difference. Coming from Arizona, I played a 4-2-5 scheme before. I’ve played so many different schemes so it wasn’t really hard to come in and adjust.”
However, the Mike linebacker has shown that he is a fast learner and isn’t having too much trouble adjusting.
“The Mike linebacker at West Virginia, you have to make all of the calls as far as looking to the sideline, finding out the down and distance, finding out the play call and then relaying it to the defensive linemen,” he said. “I also have to make sure they’re set so it’s a big responsibility playing linebacker.”
While Fields is getting significant reps and doing a good job, he is still a work in progress.
“We’ve only had Tony Fields for a short amount of time, and we’re still trying to figure out exactly what is the best way that he likes to see the game so we’re a little bit of a work in progress there,” WVU head coach Neal Brown said.
It is easy to say that Fields has found where he belongs.
Photo Credit: Pat Kinnison