Ties Helped Bring Fields To OSU

In recruiting, relationships are everything. In the case of four-star prospect Chris Fields, that could not be more true. Find out how a current Ohio State assistant coach's tie to the Painesville (Ohio) Harvey program helped Fields issue his verbal commitment to the Buckeyes.

Chris Fields had a lot of reasons to come to Ohio State: prestige, the chance to play with Terrelle Pryor and the opportunity to work with head coach Jim Tressel, for starters.

A close tie between his head coach at Painesville (Ohio) Harvey and one member of the Buckeye coaching staff could not have hurt the cause, either. As it turns out, OSU cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson has a longstanding relationship with Harvey head coach Devlin Culliver.

Johnson, whose coaching career began at his alma mater of Wittenberg, Ohio, first met Culliver shortly thereafter. At the time, Culliver was coaching at Shaw, Ohio.

Speaking exclusively to BuckeyeSports.com, Culliver said his friendship with Johnson only helped to send Fields to OSU as a verbal member of its class of 2009 – a fact Johnson re-affirmed, although coaches are prohibited from discussing specific recruits until they have signed a national letter-of-intent.

"We talk at least every couple weeks or so," Johnson said of Culliver. "He's been a really good friend to us. It always helps because the coach has the insight about the young man and can tell you everything that's going on with the kid, especially a young man under Coach Culliver. He fills that father-figure role and really loves his players.

"It's not just a coach-player relationship. He goes above and beyond. Whatever Coach Culliver says about anyone in his program, you can take it to heart for sure."

Fields described Johnson as being like a father figure – something he was looking for when he selected the Buckeyes over the likes of Illinois, Penn State and Nebraska. The two first became acquainted during Fields' sophomore season, and their relationship has since continued to grow.

"I like talking to Coach Johnson a lot because he can compare his life to my life and we can be all good and have a conversation," Fields said. "Talking to the other coaches from Illinois, Nebraska and the other teams that offered me, I really didn't feel comfortable talking to them and I wanted to feel comfortable talking to coaches because I'll be with them for four years. I was real comfortable with all the Ohio State coaches."

That comfort no doubt at least partially comes from the fact that Culliver is confident that the coaches he is sending Fields to play for are ones he can trust.

"It becomes a comfort level with somebody you can trust, someone that you have known as a coach for awhile," Culliver said. "I felt very comfortable with him coming in and talking to Chris. I knew he wasn't going to steer me wrong because of my relationship with him outside of football so I could trust him that he was telling Chris the truth."

That truth is that Fields will have an opportunity to contribute as a freshman. A wide receiver by trade, the 6-0, 180-pound senior has been told that his biggest opportunity to help the team will come on special teams.

That is just fine with Fields, who said the coaches have told him he could be a returner in the same vein as former Buckeye Ted Ginn Jr.

"He's a real special-teams dude and I plan on being good on special teams," Fields said. "That's what I'll probably be doing my freshman year before I start getting down to the wide receiver spot. I think if I keep my speed up then I'll be successful like he is and go to the pros and be successful like he is with the special teams stuff."

Although Ginn went on to set a school record for punt returns for touchdowns with six and left behind some pretty big shoes to fill, Culliver said he sees similar potential in Fields.

"As a high school player, Chris is a lot more polished than Teddy was and is a lot stronger at the high school level," Culliver said. "On the college level, the similarities that I potentially see are being able to make that big play, being able to score."

Those abilities will be on the field in Columbus next season. If they pan out to be worthy of Culliver's praise, OSU fans will have Johnson to thank.

"Once (Fields) gets down to Ohio State, if they can get him the ball he's going to try to make something happen with it," Culliver said. "He's not going to just be satisfied with the catch. He's going to make a highlight tape every time he touches the ball."

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