Though he's not used to the cold, Fields realizes that dealing with snow is something he will have to learn to live with if he hopes to follow in the footsteps of his childhood hero Donovan McNabb, whose posters are strewn across his bedroom wall.
This semester, Fields officially enrolled at Syracuse as the Orangemen's No. 1 recruit for the 2004 football season. He headlines a class of recruits introduced Wednesday, Feb. 4 at Manley Field House.
Fields is a 6-foot-1, 214-pound quarterback who hails from Washington Booker T High School in Houston. And although Tom Lemming of Prep Football Report left him out of his top 100 recruits of 2004, Fields was a top 20 dual-threat high school quarterback in the country by some recruiting services. Not to mention, he was named a Super Prospect by ESPN Insider.
"He looked as polished and as smooth as any high school prospect you're going to look at," Syracuse head coach Paul Pasqualoni said. "Joe is a guy who in high school his film was impressive in everything he did."
At Washington, Fields was named his district's Most Valuable Player in 2002, along with earning All-District honors in his sophomore and junior seasons. He had a total of 13 rushing touchdowns as a junior, and completed 97 of 187 passes (1,823 yards) his senior year.
Perhaps Fields' most impressive feat, though, is finishing high school in three and a half years. Like Bobby Reid, Fields' friend who left high school early to play for Oklahoma State, Fields finished his high school career in December and began to take classes at SU for the spring semester.
"(Graduating early) wasn't as difficult as people make it seem," Fields said. "I took a class during summer school and doubled up on my courses, economics and government, but it wasn't that hard. Maybe that's because it came easy."
Fields modestly admitted he graduated high school with an A average, but his mother, Germaine, remembers that some nights the workload got a little tough.
"He said (the homework) was kind of hard," Germaine said. "But he was able to adjust to it because (going to college) was something he wanted to do."
Starting classes a semester earlier than his new teammates will also give Fields an advantage when it comes to training with the team. Pasqualoni said he doesn't look at the age when determining who will be starting, but he looks at the quality of the player.
"We go all the way back and start over again with all the basic skills and fundamentals," Pasqualoni said. "We don't take for granted that this is a third or fourth year player; the slate is wiped clean and you start over again."
More on this article can be found in this month's issue of The Juice.
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