Fields of dreams: ASU football freshman made most of unforeseen opportunity

Evan Fields put on an impressive performance, coming off the bench against USC

Circumstances out of his control presented ASU football freshman defensive back Evan Fields with an opportunity.

After redshirt junior defensive back Dasmond Tautalatasi was ejected for targeting in the first half of Saturday's blowout loss to USC, the coaching staff replaced him at safety with Fields. 

"They just said, 'Go,'" Fields said. "There wasn't really a conversation. When I saw the penalty, I just started putting on my helmet on. I knew that they were going to tell me to go in." 

This season, Fields has played on special teams until the USC game last Saturday. In his first career collegiate game, he came up with an onside kick recovery that set the tone for an eventual upset of Oregon

But prior to last week's contest against USC, Fields had not played a defensive snap in college. Facing a Trojans' offense that arguably has one of the best group of skill players in the country, Fields said he had to adjust to the speed of the game. 

“You kind of just have to,” Fields said. “I had to breathe, calm down and let the jitters go.” 

Fields developed a reputation at Midwest City High School in Oklahoma City as a big hitter that closes on the ball exceedingly well, but he experienced a light bulb moment early in the third quarter. 

ASU cut the Trojans’ lead to 31-17 by scoring a touchdown on its opening drive of the second half, but the Sun Devils’ momentum evaporated on one play. 

Facing first down and 20, USC redshirt sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold handed the ball to junior running back Ronald Jones Il. Fields looked in position to wrap up Jones, but he missed the tackle and turned a conservative play call into a long touchdown. 

“That is when I realized I just can’t knock everybody down,” Fields said. “I have to use my technique, wrap up. It was just eye-opening.” 

Fields certainly bounced back from his initial setback. He finished the game with six solo tackles and one assisted tackle. 

“It certainly gives me confidence, knowing I can make plays against a team like that,” Fields said.

Not only did a wide-eyed Fields have to become a sure tackler right away, but he also had to communicate quickly and effectively to execute motions and shifts. 

Head coach Todd Graham said Fields got a good taste of a complex defensive scheme. 

“As he learns, he is going to be a great player for us, no doubt about it,” Graham said. “His role and how much he plays is just predicated on how fast he learns.” 

An injury caused Fields to miss all of fall camp, but he had no intentions of redshirting. Instead, he wanted to learn just in case an opportunity to play arose. 

The true freshman’s first season started after the Texas Tech game, not on the field, but in the film room and on the practice field. 

He met with defensive coordinator Phil Bennett and defensive analyst Jarred Holley to go over coverages and signs, calls and signals the coaches use on the sideline during games. Fields has continued to meet with the coaching staff because he still has a lot to learn. 

“Getting my alignment down,” Fields said. “Being able to know (on) some plays I need to be 10 yards (from the line of scrimmage), some plays 12 yards.” 

But for someone that was still in high school “a few months ago” and missed fall practices, Bennett said he's seen Fields grow tremendously. 

“He’s a willing kid,” Bennett said. “He is going to get better and better. He has an extremely bright future.” 

Fields thanked his coaches for helping him get to this point. With valuable experience under his belt, he is more confident and ready to earn a larger role.  

“It was frustrating at first,” Fields said of Saturday’s game. “But I have come a long way fairly fast.” 


 Reach the reporter at jpjacqu1@asu.edu or follow @joejacquezaz on Twitter.

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