Mark Fields was hoping 2017 was going to be his year.
After being limited by an injury he suffered in last year’s national championship game, Fields missed most of spring practice, but came back and competed hard for the starting spot at field corner this summer.
The junior from Charlotte had a very good camp and put himself in position to not only play a lot, but to start as well. Though he did not start the season-opener against Kent State, he did earn a start the following week against Auburn.
He played for 41 snaps in the game and had two tackles and broke up one pass. He did not start the following week against Louisville, but he did play 27 snaps and had a career-high five tackles at the time before being banged up.
Due injury, he missed the Boston College game the following week, but came back and started the next three games. He had a career-high six tackles at Virginia Tech while playing 71 snaps. He also had three tackles and broke up a pass in 40 snaps against Wake Forest the following week and then played well at Syracuse where he made four tackles in 57 snaps.
However, it was at Syracuse when the wheels came out from under him. Fields hurt his foot at Syracuse and never recovered. He missed each of the last eight games of the season.
“It’s frustrating,” Clemson defensive backs coach Mike Reed said, while describing how he felt for Fields. “The kid has been here three years and he wants to play and he has an opportunity to play and the next thing you know, he can’t play. So it is like having the game taken away from you.”
Fields desperately tried to return for the Sugar Bowl, but in practice he re-aggravated the foot and was held out of the game. Reed said he felt for his veteran corner, but he was proud of the way he carried himself through all of it.
“He has handled it well,” the Clemson coach said. “There have been some ups and downs, but being in this situation was new to him because he had never been in this situation where he has had to sit on the sideline for a long extend period of time where he could not compete or participate.”
Fields is expected to be completely healthy by the time the Tigers’ begin spring practice, which will be sometime near the first of March. The junior will compete for the starting spot at field corner more than likely.