CORNELIUS Houghs Corey Bell and Mark Fields III are coming off a busy summer, having captivated college football coaches across the Southeast to earn several Division I offers.
The Huskies starting cornerbacks also bring back high expectations as they enter their junior season.
But thats nothing Bell and Fields havent encountered before.
As the sons of former NFL players Myron Bell, an eight-year veteran who played with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals, and Mark Fields, a former Carolina Panther who also suited up for the New Orleans Saints and the St. Louis Rams during his 10-year career, the duos every move on the football field growing up was closely scrutinized.
The younger Bell, who has offers to play at Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State, said hes learned to ignore that extra attention.
Most of that pressure comes from everybody else, he said. Your dad will keep looking at you the same way he always has no matter what.
I dont feel any pressure, added Fields, who has offers from Clemson, South Carolina and Tennessee as well as from the Tar Heels and the Wolfpack. Im out here to compete and play to the best of my ability, and thats pretty much it.
Hough coach Bobby Collins is glad to have Bell and Fields back as the Huskies look to build off last years program-best 9-3 season and their first trip to the postseason.
Theyre the glue that holds our secondary together, said Collins.
Mark is very gifted athletically; Corey is a really smart football player. Coaching those guys is fun.
Fields, a 5-foot-10, 183-pounder who can also play safety, running back and receiver, stands out with his ability to disrupt opponents with his strength. Bell, a self-described finesse player, excels at covering the deep ball with his high-leaping ability. The 5-foot-9, 160-pound Bell said he also worked to become more physical in the offseason.
With the help of sophomore Marquill Osborne, junior Anthony Sherrill and senior Akeem Barringer, a returning all-conference safety, in the secondary, Collins expects Bell and Fields to lead a lock-down unit.
If those guys give up a pass, youre going to see a side of me on the field that you dont want to see, said Collins.
Hes not shy about setting that sort of high standards for his cornerbacks.
Theyre competitors, they work hard, said Collins. They can handle it.
Vance football coach Keith Wilkes, whose team will face the Huskies to close out Mecka 4A play in November, said game planning against Division I-caliber players like Bell and Fields will pose a challenge to every opponent.
They were really competitive kids, said Wilkes, who watched the duo at the Cam Newton Foundation 7-on-7 tournament in June. That day, they were flying out there. They looked like some of the best in North Carolina.
Hough also returns experienced players like senior quarterback Josh Stilley, senior wide receiver Tylan Murrell, the son of former NFL player Adrian Murrell, senior defensive end Brandon Cassarino and junior defensive tackle Ronald Albritton while also adding Concord Robinson transfer Carl Tucker, a junior wide receiver/safety who has an offer from Clemson.
With so much experience, Fields is confident that his team will have a season to remember.
We want to win a state championship, he said. Thats always been the goal, but this year, I really feel we have the pieces in place to do that.
Tovar: 704-358-5941; Twitter: @sergiotovar
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