It may be a short commute from Northwestern's Ryan Field to Halas Hall, but Chicago Bears rookie wide receiver Demetrius Fields is discovering that the distance between college football and the NFL is be considerably longer.
"It's been crazy here this weekend," Fields said after today's second practice of rookie minicamp. "I knew I'd come in here expecting to see great talent on both sides of the ball but this is crazy good. Everybody on the field today is incredibly skilled. It's like playing with a bunch of college all stars, which is what a lot of these guys probably are."
Fields is hoping to become the next NU alum to play for the Monsters of the Midway, which includes current starting defensive end Corey Wootton.
"That's something I try not to think about when I am out there doing drills," Fields said. "But it's always in the back of your mind. Am I good enough? Did I execute that route correctly? Do I have the qualities these coaches are looking for?"
Fields played four seasons in Evanston, compiling 114 career catches, 1,203 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. His brother Dexton was a star receiver at Kansas.
"I do have the background for this," Fields said. "It was helpful as I progressed through college to observe my brother's example. And I was coached by one of the best in the NCAA, NU head coach Pat Fitzgerald. Fitz was an outstanding player during his days at Northwestern. He has complete understanding of players mindsets and what we need to do to succeed."
The fifth year senior was a member of the NU's 12-player Leadership Council and was also the recipient of the Carnig Minasian Citizenship Award for outstanding play on the field, leadership on and off the field, and contributions to the community.
"Those awards were great but that doesn't count for much in the NFL," said Fields. "Here it's all about what you can show the coaches on the field. I had 33 receptions last year, including a game winner against Syracuse, but can I execute at the professional level? I believe that I can. Now it's up to me to make believers out of the Bears coaches as well."
At 6-0, 210 pounds, Fields the body size to be effective in the NFL but he realizes that nothing is a given.
"I followed this team while I played at Northwestern," he said. "There's no team I'd rather line up for than the Bears. I've spoken to Corey [Wootton] about this many times. His experience, his success has been something I'd like to duplicate. I feel that I'm a good fit here and that I can contribute sooner rather than later. But of course that won't be my decision."
Much like draft weekend, following tomorrow's practice Fields will have to wait to find out if he'll be invited to compete in training camp for a spot on the final 53-man roster. He should know by Sunday evening if he'll be returning to Halas Hall on a regular basis.
"It's tough, all this waiting and no control over things," he said. "The competition among rookies this weekend is tough. The tempo, the intensity makes this like a college bowl game every day. It's exciting. It's a great experience. I'm going out there and giving this everything I have. Hopefully that will be good enough."
Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 12 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.