Arizona and Rich Rodriguez didn’t have to look too far to see who is near the top of the defensive statistics line.
It’s true freshman Tony Fields II, an active and aggressive sort who has played his WILL position (linebacker) very well; that, despite being just 6-foot-1, 225, and, well, a freshman.
Through two games, he has 13 total tackles – one shy of redshirt freshman Lorenzo Burns – 10 of which have been solo tackles.
“For the most part, I’ve done well,” said Fields, who is from Las Vegas’ Desert Pines High. “I’ve graded out at more than 80. The coaches want us at 85 or better. I haven’t exactly done what he wanted to me to do.”
But, he’s close. The grades went 81 against Northern Arizona and 84 against Houston.
What has pleased Rodriguez is Fields has picked things up quickly and “he loves football. He plays hard. He was a freshman who got here early, which helped.”
By early, Rodriguez means Fields joined the team last semester after graduating early.
“I think that helped a lot,” Fields said this week as UA prepared for UTEP on Friday. “I helped me prepare physically and mentally. I was able to work on the play book, and I got a little stronger.”
There will be plenty where that came from, Rodriguez said. Like many of the true freshmen, Fields is a bit undersized, including being slight at 6-foot-1. But he has the right athleticism for the position. And there’s no question Fields will get bigger.
“He’s pretty strong for his age,” said Rodriguez, who likened him to DeAndre’ Miller who also plays linebacker but is out with an injury.
“I use a lot of leverage; use my speed,” Fields said of why he’s been successful so far.
After all, it helped him get to UA.
“When I watched him in high school, one thing that stood out to me was how much he flew around and he made plays,” said UA defensive coordinator Marcel Yates said. “He flies to the ball and plays with that effort that we want. He’s a guy that I call a ‘hitter and a runner.’ He wants to hit and he runs to the ball. That stood out to me.”