NORMAN — For Oklahoma safety Patrick Fields, a dream as a young kid in Tulsa has become a reality.
“Growing up in Oklahoma ... we didn’t see too many guys going Division I,” Fields said. “We always had the dream, but it was always far-fetched. ... Actually being here is crazy.”
Fields, a sophomore, didn’t simply make it to the Division I level. As a three-star recruit out of Union High School, he had his pick of some of the most established programs in college football.
“I’ve been watching him grow since we were in middle school,” said fellow OU defensive back Tre Brown, another Union grad. “He’s always had dreams to play football. Having someone like him look up to you growing up, it feels good to have him on your team.”
When he arrived in Norman, Fields was able to quickly adapt to this level partly because of his high intelligence and partly because Brown showed him the ropes.
“Having Tre here, a guy I grew up with, a guy who was older than me and had been through the process, it’s been a comfort for me,” Fields said. “I can go to him for any advice and he’s always there, serving as a mentor for me.”
Last season, Fields appeared in six games as a freshman — including three of the last four, highlighted by an eight-tackle outing against top-ranked Alabama in the Orange Bowl. That performance has increased expectations of what Fields could be capable of in 2019, and he is in the mix for a solidified role during preseason practice.
“You saw a glimpse of what he could do in the game against Alabama this year when he finally got his chance,” Brown said. “He’s a bright person on and off the field. He’s someone you can learn from, someone you can count on, someone that you can call on. This year is going to be a very exciting season from him.”
Asked what he hoped to accomplish this season, Fields said: “I want to be a better leader, a better communicator on the defense and help guys get lined up. I want to take charge, be vocal on defense, be one of the guys to solidify myself that I’m going to be a playmaker this fall.”
Fields also identified himself as the player with the opportunity to secure the most takeaways in the new defensive scheme of first-year coordinator Alex Grinch. He said that turnover mentality has been contagious throughout the defense.
“It’s very competitive,” coach Lincoln Riley said. “It’s (takeaways) emphasized so much. They know the rewards here are so high for it because we do put such an emphasis on it.”
Brown is another important piece to the Sooners secondary heading into his junior season. He led the team with 12 pass breakups last year and also had 58 tackles, including six for lost yardage.
“I told Tre, ‘Realistically, it should be your last year, if you handle business and you be the version of Tre Brown you should be,’ ” Fields said. “That’s the type of talent he has. He’s an elite guy in regards to speed, quickness, jumping ability. There’s nothing holding him back. He has legit NFL talent.”