South Carolina State’s Corey Fields Jr. performs with guardian angels on his wrists — •

South Carolina State quarterback Corey Fields Jr. retains the reminiscence of his late father and brother near his coronary heart.

Earlier than each recreation, Fields takes a everlasting marker to inscribe #LLOM and #LLDP on his wrist tape. One wrist honors his father, Corey Fields Sr., who died in December 2017. His different wrist honors his brother, Deon Smalls, who died in an all-terrain automobile accident in February.

“Once I misplaced my brother, it was sort of powerful for me. I had my little moments as a result of in my senior [year of high school] I misplaced my dad,” Fields mentioned. “So shedding my brother was like shedding a bit of me, undoubtedly. I didn’t know who I used to be at that cut-off date. Mentally, I had my days once I was up and down as a result of I used to be saying, ‘Man, they’re not right here.’ So I’ve my little psychological days, however easy methods to get by it on the finish of the day? I gotta do what I got here right here for.”

Main as much as S.C. State’s spring season opener towards Alabama A&M, Fields remained with the workforce and performed a day after burying his brother. His rationale was merely to honor his brother and assist his workforce.

“I’d slightly be round my teammates simply figuring out that we’re one large household. After we go on the sector, simply leaving all of it out on the sector as a option to get away from all the pieces,” the redshirt sophomore quarterback mentioned. “On the sector, it’s simply soccer. I don’t have to consider nothing else apart from what I’m doing proper then and there.”

Like most brotherly relationships, Fields’ admiration for his older brother ran deep. Wherever Smalls went, Fields adopted with out query. His fondest reminiscences have been enjoying basketball collectively and tossing the soccer round.

Each Smalls and his late father have been instrumental in Fields’ transition to soccer. The youthful Fields was a dual-sport athlete who liked basketball greater than soccer, however soccer would assume the primary place when his father grew to become his coach within the sixth grade. His dad allowed him to play quarterback, a place Fields Sr. had been coaching his son to play for practically two years.

“Simply him being there to assist me concentrate on my abilities. I knew I might throw the soccer since I used to be just a little child. It was simply the small issues of figuring out what you bought to do, the footwork, and you bought to do that and that,” Fields mentioned. “My dad performed a component in that. He sat right here and watched movie. I used to be 8 years previous studying easy methods to play quarterback and attempting to do higher each week.”

Fields misses the verbal affirmations from his father and brother when he’s enjoying properly, in addition to the corrective, “It’s a must to be higher than this” when issues are tough.

Fields sustained an AC joint sprain on his non-throwing shoulder throughout S.C. State’s loss to North Carolina A&T on Nov. 13. Sophomore Quincy Hill completed the sport for the Bulldogs, however with Norfolk State struggling a loss the identical weekend, S.C. State clinched the Mid-Jap Athletic Convention (MEAC) title and a spot within the Cricket Celebration Bowl. Fields was nonetheless dedicated to enjoying regardless of being at solely about 70%.

“I simply know on the finish of the day, it’s not about me, it’s in regards to the workforce. The harm, yeah, it occurred, however it’s over with,” Fields mentioned. “It was nearly us having the very best probability to win.”

Fields threw for 250 yards and three landing strikes to huge receiver Shaquan Davis within the regular-season finale towards Norfolk State, because the Bulldogs (6-5, 5-0 MEAC) completed undefeated in convention play.

“He’s powerful [and] good as all get out, so you place these two components collectively [and] the truth that he’s hard-nosed. He’s received a superb really feel for issues [and] he is aware of the offense inside and outside, we’ve received an opportunity to go far,” mentioned Oliver “Buddy” Pough, S.C. State’s head soccer coach. “We needed to do some stuff to him to provide him a chance to have the ability to play [against Norfolk State]. I’m excited as I will be about him beginning to play properly once more, and I believe I’m excited as I will be about us understanding just a little bit higher what this offense will be.

“I believe we’ve received to lean extra on him and what he can do and the individuals round him, so I’m trying ahead to seeing the place we will go for the long run with him within the place.”

Fields led the Bulldog offense this season, passing for two,144 yards, 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, incomes third-team All-MEAC honors. Solely Norfolk State’s Juwan Carter and Howard’s Quinton Williams handed for extra yards within the convention.

“He stuffed the sneakers of all of the earlier quarterbacks that got here in. He’s an impressive participant,” mentioned graduate defensive again Decobie Durant. “I believe he was freshman participant of the 12 months within the convention. Fields goes to have a terrific profession.”

By ending the common season per week sooner than the Southwestern Athletic Convention, Fields had the chance to journey house for Thanksgiving to heal and regroup following an prolonged season.

Fields is from Hollywood, South Carolina, a small city of 5,000 individuals, an hour and a half outdoors of Orangeburg. Fields performed at Baptist Hill Excessive College, towards 1A competitors in South Carolina Excessive College League’s division for smaller faculties, and led the workforce to a state title his senior 12 months in 2017.

“It’s a terrific feeling as a result of not too many individuals learn about South Carolina youngsters. Hollywood is one avenue that in all probability goes 5 miles,” Fields mentioned with fun. “Simply the help from the neighborhood. It doesn’t matter what occurs, the nice and unhealthy, they’re all the time there. So I attempt to do my greatest to point out that anyone can do it.”

The Bulldogs resumed apply final week following Thanksgiving break and are fine-tuning some issues whereas hoping to keep up their finish-games perspective. 4 of their wins this season occurred in single-possession video games. The nitty-gritty toughness Fields realized from his upbringing and the chip on his shoulder to show 1A youngsters can play at larger establishments have helped propel S.C. State to the Cricket Celebration Bowl on Dec. 18.

“It was a terrific feeling for me. A few of the guys who’ve been right here [haven’t had] an opportunity to go there. So it’s nice to see them have a smile on their face figuring out that [we’re] going to the Celebration Bowl and ending it proper [and] in a constructive manner,” Fields mentioned. “Everybody is aware of our essential aim on the finish of the 12 months [was] to be in Atlanta, and go there and win. We all know regardless of how the sport begins, simply end. Irrespective of the way you begin, it’s about the way you end first by the sport. Our workforce, we simply know easy methods to end.”

The Bulldogs’ journey to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium to play Jackson State coincides with two necessary anniversaries for Fields, which provides extra motivation for him to go away Atlanta with a trophy. It’s his brother’s first heavenly birthday on Dec. 20 and the fourth anniversary of his dad’s loss of life on Dec. 22. Regardless of these dates looming behind his thoughts, Fields’ focus is to maneuver ahead and play his greatest soccer.

“I do know my brother and my dad. They will not be right here, however I do know on the finish of the day, they’d be right here pushing me to get higher on daily basis, regardless of the circumstances,” Fields mentioned.

“I’m [going to] simply preserve pushing it doesn’t matter what.”


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