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Nov 16, 2018

Chasing a Dream


Note: The following appears in the Duke gameday football program

Senior cornerback Mark Fields has made a name for himself on the Clemson football team. However, his football career actually began in a different kind of football.

“I was in the second grade, and I started off playing soccer first, but I was too physical. On the soccer field, I was always getting penalties and slide tackling kids, so I was told I should play football. It started out like that.”

It would seem like no surprise that a physical defensive back would thrive on one of the nation’s best defenses. Clemson was the best fit for Fields.

“It was the family environment, and it was the best fit for me. With everything going on in recruiting, I believed I could get the most done here.”

Fields has made himself at home, and he loves being a part of the brotherhood at Clemson. It is his favorite part of being a Tiger, and according to Fields, it is a brotherhood that will last forever.

Something else that will last forever is the memory of winning the national championship in 2016. Fields was a part of that championship squad, and he described it as a great experience.

“Being young at the time, it set the tone for the rest of my career. Obviously, that’s the biggest game I’ve ever played in. Being a part of that cleared up the future. This is what it’s like to get to the top of the mountain.”

The experience of winning the championship is Fields’ most memorable Clemson moment. The experience of lifting the trophy with his brothers was another special moment for him, and it is one he will never forget.

Fields was also a part of the 2015 team that lost in the national championship game, and that setback helped to provide extra motivation heading into the 2016 national championship game.

“In the 2015 national championship game, it wasn’t too good of a feeling, so going into that offseason, we put in a lot of hard work. We knew that if we paid the price up front, on the back end we’d reap the rewards, and that’s what happened.

“We stayed focused throughout the year. We had ups and downs that season, but ultimately, we came together and found a way to get it done.”

Before Fields came to Clemson, he had the opportunity to participate in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He was the first player in his high school’s history to earn such a selection, which meant a lot to him.

“The high school I went to, there weren’t many people who received that honor, so being the first to receive that was a big deal to me. Playing in the game was awesome. It was a great experience that got me ready for college.”

Fields credited the high-caliber coaching and excellence of his teammates for preparing him to play at the college level.

His father, also named Mark Fields, is a former NFL linebacker. The two share a good relationship.

“We talk about a lot of things…football, life, you name it. He’s been around, and he’s been a great guide in my life with me getting older.”

With the senior Fields playing in the NFL, the younger Fields always knew that playing football was what he wanted to do. He has always drawn that inspiration from seeing his father play on Sundays.

“Playing football is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. Playing in the NFL is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. Watching my father almost made it even worse. I thought to myself, ‘Wow, my dad is playing in the NFL. That’s what I have to do.’ That’s how he influenced me. I developed a passion for it at a really young age, and it grew ever since.”

Fields was young when his father played, so he does not remember much from being around NFL locker rooms with his father. However, he does remember seeing NFL greats like Marshall Faulk and Torry Holt.

“I can’t really remember a lot of what happened, but I remember being in there when my dad played with the Rams, chopping it up with Marshall Faulk. Those were cool times. I was so young, so I can’t really remember what those conversations were about, but I remember seeing pictures of my mom showing me I was with Marshall Faulk and Torry Holt, and guys like that.”

Fields is trying to get the most out of his final season in Tigertown. Once his college career is over, he is setting his sights on his dream of playing in the NFL and following in his father’s footsteps.

“After this season is over, I’m going to go on with the draft process, train for that, get ready for the NFL Combine and Pro Day and go forward from there.”

However, Fields still has some games left to play in orange before he sets his sights on those dreams, and he is looking to enjoy his final season as much as he can while it lasts.

“I’m just having fun. We’re at the end of the road now, so for me, this season is all about letting loose, having fun and being Mark.”

Fields has a few more games left at Clemson, and there is no doubt he will make the most of them and finish his college career strong.