A long time com­ing

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - SPORTS -

By the time Patrick Fields was in the eighth grade, he had a plan and the work ethic of play­ing col­lege foot­ball. Now the se­nior Tulsa Union safety is clock­ing in at No. 9 in The Ok­la­homan’s Su­per 30 rank­ings of the best re­cruits in the state.

While most other mid­dle school­ers were sleep­ing or fin­ish­ing last minute home­work, Patrick Fields was load­ing plates onto the squat ma­chine at the Gold’s Gym near his house in Tulsa.

He was only in eighth grade, but Fields al­ready had his fu­ture fig­ured out.

He wanted to play col­lege foot­ball, and he knew the 6 a.m. trips to the gym be­fore go­ing to school would help him achieve that goal.

“A lot of peo­ple used to ask me (why I was there),” said the safety, who’s No. 9 in The Ok­la­homan’s Su­per 30. “They used to re­spect me a lot, just the fact that I was in there and try­ing to work. I didn’t nec­es­sar­ily know ev­ery­thing, know ex­actly what to do, but the fact that I was try­ing to do bet­ter.”

Fields’ de­ter­mi­na­tion hasn’t changed since en­ter­ing high school, and his fo­cus is pay­ing off as he pre­pares to con­tinue his foot­ball ca­reer at Ok­la­homa af­ter his se­nior sea­son at Tulsa Union.

“Eighth grade, I was go­ing to the gym be­fore school and now it’s like, a lot of peo­ple want to go out and party,” he said. “For me, I un­der­stand where I’m try­ing to go, and do­ing things like that can hin­der my suc­cess.”

From about the time that he be­gan pump­ing iron along­side the mid­dle-aged men get­ting in

their pre-work ex­er­cise, Fields knew he was dif­fer­ent.

He’s al­ways been so­cial, but in his last year of mid­dle school, Fields re­al­ized he just didn’t want to goof off and play around like many of his friends. He was driven to achieve his goals, and he didn’t want to get de­railed early in the process.

So he with­drew a bit and worked on him­self.

“I was re­ally so­cial in sixth and sev­enth grade, talked to a lot of peo­ple, knew a lot of peo­ple, but as I started to ma­ture, I found that I didn’t re­ally find plea­sure in a lot of the things they find plea­sure in, which was kind of hard at that young age,” Fields said. “I didn’t re­ally un­der­stand. I would be in a room full of peo­ple, but I’d feel like I’m by my­self be­cause I can’t re­ally re­late to them.”

As he made his way to high school, Fields be­gan es­tab­lish­ing him­self as a leader, and his team­mates and coaches took no­tice.

“(Fields and OSU com­mit CJ Moore) al­ways took it upon them­selves to be lead­ers within the group,” Union coach Kirk Fridrich said. “As ju­niors even, they were hold­ing guys ac­count­able dur­ing a prac­tice. I re­mem­ber chal­leng­ing our se­niors, say­ing we’ve got two un­der­class­men that think this is pretty im­por­tant. So they held their role very well, but they also have been lead­ers for a long time.”

Af­ter he com­mit­ted to Ok­la­homa in March, Fields be­gan us­ing his lead­er­ship to rally his re­cruit­ing class. He not only worked to keep pre­vi­ously com­mit­ted play­ers loyal to the Soon­ers, but he also pushed to re­cruit other play­ers to join them.

A year ago, Fields went to his first re­cruit­ing event at Ok­la­homa: ChampU BBQ.

He was in­stantly sold on the fam­ily at­mo­sphere, the games, and of course, the chicken wings.

“I re­mem­ber we had some chicken wings, some fried chicken wings,” he said with a grin. “That was like the only thing I ate.

“They were off the chain.”

With an­other ChampU BBQ on the hori­zon, Fields is tap­ping into those lead­er­ship skills again, en­cour­ag­ing other po­ten­tial re­cruits to come down to Nor­man to join the class of 2018 — and try the chicken wings.

MAN] [PHOTO BY PAUL HELLSTERN, THE OKLAHO-

Union High School’s Patrick Fields has dreamt of play­ing col­lege foot­ball since the eighth grade. Now it looks like his dream will come true.

Brooke Pryor bpryor@ ok­la­homan.com

HIGH SCHOOLS

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