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Sports News:
Sleek, determined Fields driven by quest for national title

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Not figuring out when or if Ohio State was going to play in 2020, Justin Fields by no means stopped working towards one other school soccer season. He stayed in Columbus, embraced a vegan food regimen and stuffed his days with bodily conditioning and common classes of video research and area work below the tutelage of head coach Ryan Day.

As the Buckeyes put together for their Oct. 24 opener in opposition to Nebraska, the 21-year-old quarterback’s dedication is palpable, even in his Zoom interviews with reporters.

“I know the time’s ticking, so I’m just more anxious and anxious every day until game day comes,” Fields stated Tuesday. “I know I’ve said it 10 times, but y’all don’t know how excited I am to play.”

Fields transferred from Georgia final 12 months, lured by Day to be the successor to star Dwayne Haskins Jr. He blossomed as anticipated, main Ohio State to a national semifinal sport and rising as a Heisman Trophy finalist whereas battling by way of a late-season knee damage that made it troublesome to even stroll at occasions.

He completed third within the Heisman derby, which was a landslide for former Buckeyes quarterback Joe Burrow, who gained the national title at LSU and now begins for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Fields doubtless will likely be taking part in within the NFL subsequent fall whether or not or not he performs one other down of school soccer. He might have opted out of this pandemic-shortened season however wished another shot on the Heisman and a national title with a crew he’s satisfied can get there.

Fields patiently waited out the Big Ten because the convention shelved the season for about 5 weeks attributable to coronavirus considerations earlier than reversing course. Instead of transferring on, he spearheaded an internet petition that was signed by a whole bunch of 1000’s of individuals urging the Big Ten to start out again up.

Fields emerged from the pandemic break leaner and stronger. Coaches and teammates say he’s additionally a extra assured and demonstrative chief.

“I think when you have a year under your belt, you realize the consequence of every game, every snap, the preparation that comes into every play,” Day stated. “He asks the right questions going into practice if he’s not sure. He makes sure he has it right. And he’s also holding people accountable.”

Day added: “If (the play) doesn’t work it’s usually on the quarterback, the offensive coordinator and the head coach. He understands that now. So if things aren’t exactly the way he sees it, he gets with (us). His leadership has been excellent.”

Quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis places it this fashion: “He truly doesn’t want to leave a stone unturned.”

Fields put up gaudy numbers final season (3,273 yards, 41 touchdowns, three interceptions) in his first 12 months working in Day’s system, for which the inventive, cell quarterback is a perfect match. But coming into Year 2 there’s a deeper understanding of the scheme and the objectives.

“Last year I was kind of new to the playbook so (coaches) would give me the play and be like, ‘Yo, it’s most likely going to be this guy, this guy or this guy open in certain places,’” Fields stated. This time round, “I happen to ask why we’re calling a certain play, or what coach Day’s goal is when it comes to calling that certain play.”

“I’m trying to think more like him and be that coach on the field,” he stated.

Fields is blessed with an excellent supporting solid. The Ohio State offensive line is stocked with potential NFL expertise. Acrobatic receivers Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson will likely be major targets. A extremely touted quartet of freshman receivers might make an affect, too, and there’s depth at operating again.

“I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t have a Heisman-winning type of year,” ESPN school soccer analyst Kirk Herbstreit stated. “And I hate to just put that on him, but I’m sure that’s what his own expectations are, for himself and for his team.”

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More AP school soccer: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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Follow Mitch Stacy at http://twitter.com/mitchtacy

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