When the Buckeye wide receivers met with the media this spring, the name that came up the most when that question was posed was Chris Fields.
A year after taking a redshirt, the Painesville Harvey product showcased what he can do this spring. Apparently, it was enough to catch the eyes of his position mates.
"He's made big steps this spring, actually," senior Dane Sanzenbacher said. "Taurian Washington was sick for a couple of days and Chris was able to step in at the No. 3 spot and we didn't really miss a beat. Coming from doing a lot of scout team in the fall to finally crossing over and being on our offensive side and being able to step it, it's been pretty impressive."
And after catching two passes for 17 yards in the April 24 spring game, his first chance to show his stuff to a large crowd of Buckeye fans, Fields was finally made available to the media and confirmed that he thought the spring had gone well for him.
"I think I've grown mentally," he said. "There's a lot to learn for the game of football. I have a lot to learn for my career. I just need to keep working hard."
On a team continuing to search for a third option at wide receiver, the emergence of someone like Fields could prove to be a boon. While the Buckeyes have more experienced options in Washington and, hopefully, Duron Carter, Fields brings a 6-0 frame and plenty of speed to the equation.
Those attributes helped him make 61 catches his senior year at Harvey for a total of 876 yards and 16 touchdowns, numbers that earned him first-team All-Ohio status and a berth in the Big 33 game.
However, he was ticketed for a redshirt season upon arrival thanks to his need to learn the finer points of the position under receivers coach Darrell Hazell. He also spent time in the weight room, bulking up nearly 10 pounds to 193.
"It was tough last year sitting out for a whole year, but it was worth the while, just sitting back and watching everybody play and learning the game mentally," he said. "I felt that I did that this year. Coming out of high school I didn't really know the little things really count. Coach Hazell breaks down the film and shows me what I need to do. That helped me during my redshirt year."
The work was enough to catch the eye of head coach Jim Tressel, who in September compared the skills Fields brings to the table to those of former OSU receiver and Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes.
"I've told (receivers coach) Darrell Hazell and those guys more than once that Chris reminds me of the way that Santonio looked as a freshman," Tressel said at the time. "Over there on the scout team, making plays, just has that certain something about him. And I tell Chris that too. I mean, that's who he reminds me of. I think Chris Fields is going to be a good football player and we'll see if he gets to the Santonio Holmes level."
Suffice it to say, Fields was happy to be compared to the four-year NFL veteran who is coming off a career high in catches.
"That's a lot of room, to fill his shoes," Fields said. "His shoes are bigger than mine. I just need to start working harder because that's the key to success."
Fields continued to catch the eye of observers this spring, although he was held out of a few practices as he battled asthma he attributed to the seasonal change.
"I feel like Chris Fields is having a great spring," junior starter DeVier Posey said. "I'm really happy for him because it was hard for me to see (him last year) because that was my roommate in camp. I worked with him. Every night we would stay up knowing we had to wake up at 6, studying our playbook, and it was hard for him to pick up on things coming out of high school. Now he's getting things – the checks and the conversions. It makes me smile when he makes big plays because you can see the growth."
Fields also spent time in the spring returning kicks, but with a redshirt year past, his goal is to help the team on the offense. Should the chance come, he expects to answer the bell.
"I'll be ready. Yes sir," he said. "Coach Hazell, he expects a lot out of me and a lot out of the receivers. My goal is to be ready during the fall."