MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s leading tackler in each of their first two games was not on the Mountaineer roster through most of the offseason. Tony Fields II has made an immediate impact on the West Virginia defense after transferring into the program in August.
“It was a family decision,” Fields said. “Me and my father were talking about it all the time. I just decided it was best for me to move on and try to go to a different team to help my career. And I ended up at West Virginia. I love the school and I had a great relationship with Coach (Jahmile) Addae already because he recruited me to the University of Arizona.”
Addae coached Fields while working on the Rich Rodriguez-led staff in Tucson and the former Mountaineer was instrumental in bringing Fields to his alma mater. Addae wasn’t alone in that effort however. In the spring, fellow Arizona transfer and safety Scottie Young committed to WVU.
“I talked to Scottie before I even thought about coming here, obviously because he was already here. While I was at Arizona, he had already told me about the team atmosphere and everything going on. I already had a little grasp of everything that was going on around here. So that actually did make the decision easier.”
Even though Fields arrived in Morgantown at the start of fall practice, his transition appears to be an easy one. In WVU’s season-opening win over Eastern Kentucky, Fields led the Mountaineers with ten tackles. He did so by playing less than thirty snaps. Last week at Oklahoma State, he and Alonzo Addae paced the Mountaineers with nine tackles each.
“The defensive scheme is a lot more complex. The defensive line does a little bit more moving. That’s really the big difference. Coming from Arizona, I played a 4-2-5 scheme before. I have played so many different schemes so it wasn’t really hard for me to come in and adjust.
“I play ‘mic’ linebacker here. At Arizona, I played ‘will’ linebacker. So that was a big difference. It is just a little more complex what the defense does. We do a lot more as far as movement. As far as the D-line, the back end and everywhere, you don’t really know what coverage is coming.”
And in the Oklahoma State game, Fields collected West Virginia’s only turnover. He intercepted a pass and returned it 22 yards. Fields thought he had a chance at six points after making the pick.
“I did think I had a chance to go all the way with it. I wish I did. I am still regretting it. Honestly, I think I am well-rounded. This offseason I tried to get better at block shedding and recognizing pattern schemes so I could get better with my pass drops. So I guess it paid off.”
Playing in the middle of the Mountaineer defense, Fields goes to work behind Darius and Dante Stills. Both of the Stills brothers have been frequent targets of double teams on the defensive line.
“It is great. You know automatically that one of them is going to get a double team on every play. That’s a chip off my shoulder. I don’t really have to worry about linemen climbing to me as much. They make plays, they are playmakers. Having those two big guys in front of me is great.”
A native of Las Vegas, Nevada, Fields is happy to escape the desert heat of the southwest. He acknowledges his view may change in the next few months.
“I like nature. So coming out to West Virginia wasn’t a real problem for me because I like the trees and I like the atmosphere everywhere. It is good to get away from the heat every now and then. I am expecting the cold coming up soon. I don’t know how I am going to feel about that though.”