Tennessee added a talented, four-star cornerback to their 2019 recruiting class this past weekend when Tyus Fields pledged his commitment to the Vols on Saturday during UT’s big recruiting cookout. Fields gave the Vols their second cornerback commitment in the 2019 class, and he’s the highest-rated of those two cornerback commits and is Tennessee’s fifth-highest-rated overall commitment in their 2019 class according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
And according to his high school head coach, the Vols are getting a big play-maker when Fields joins Tennessee’s roster in 2019.
Matt Jenkins was hired as the head coach of William Amos Hough (pronounced “huff) High School prior to the start of the 2017 season. He coached Fields last season, but even before he was his head coach he knew about the talented defensive back.
“(Fields) came in right away as a young man who was extremely athletic, a smart football player,” Jenkins told me in a recent interview. “He has a really good understanding of the game, you know just very naturally smart and very instinctive in his play. You could see that early on as a freshman.”
Fields’ father, Mark, played linebacker in the NFL from 1995 to 2004 and was a two-time Pro Bowler. Fields’ older brother, Mark Fields II, was a four-star cornerback himself and now plays for Clemson. So he comes by his skill naturally, and Jenkins says he has plenty of talent no matter what position he plays.
Jenkins said Fields played cornerback as a freshman and sophomore and was also used as a tailback those first two years. Last year, he barely played on offense, but he made yet another position change.
“After our first game, we moved him to safety and he played free safety for us,” Jenkins stated. “Tyus had 92 tackles from that spot for us last year. I think he can play corner at the next level, and I think he can play nickel all day long at the next level. I think what Tennessee is getting in him is that they have a young man who gives them so much versatility in what he can do. If he comes in as a freshman and isn’t a starter at corner, he gives you a guy that you can put out at nickel and play man coverage with him. He’s extremely physical in the run game and can contribute right away that way.
“I don’t know if there’s a natural spot for him, but he’s one of the better corners I’ve seen. I know this: When we need to shut a guy down, all we gotta do is put (Fields) on him and there’s not any concern anymore. He has that ability to be a shutdown corner, but he may be more natural at a nickel spot.”
Fields’ versatility and physicality are evident form watching his highlight film, and it was one of the reasons Tennessee’s coaches made him such a priority in this recruiting cycle. Fields doesn’t have the “ideal” size for a cornerback in modern college football at 5-foot-10, but he plays bigger than he is and has a knack for making plays.
Jenkins certainly believes that Fields’ production speaks for itself, and his lack of elite size shouldn’t matter.
“He just makes plays,” Jenkins said of Fields. “I think there’s way too much credence given on a kid being 6-foot-1. At the college level, even at the highest level in the SEC, (coaches) have to get guys who make football plays. And that’s what Tyus does. He’s a football player that makes plays. For us, and for me specifically, production is what matters. And I think for Coach Pruitt as well, that’s what they think. For them, production matters.
“He’s big enough and physical enough to play at that level without any question. Whether he’s 5-10 or 6-foot, I don’t think that matters.”
Jenkins would go on to add that he doesn’t envision Fields redshirting in 2019 as a true freshman, and he thinks he’ll “play on every special team they have” even if he doesn’t find playing time immediately on defense.
Tennessee will need some help in the secondary in 2019, and Fields looks to be able to do just that even as a true freshman. Whether he plays nickel, safety, star, or outside cornerback, Fields has the type of ability to come in and make an immediate impact.
And according to his high school head coach, he’s just the type of player the Vols need if they want a big time play-maker in their secondary.