Duke cornerback Bryon Fields Jr. may have worn his 2013 ACC Coastal Division Championship ring Friday, but he doesn’t consider himself above his teammates.
It’s actually quite the opposite.
Fields earned that ring at Bank of America Stadium, just a few miles from the Brookshire Boulevard area, where he was raised.
Duke bolted to the ACC Championship Game that year, only to be throttled 45-7 by Florida State. The Blue Devils, who won 10 games that season, were awarded jewelry to commemorate the accomplishment, and Fields is the only active player to have played in that game. He even recorded a sack against future NFL first-round pick in Jameis Winston.
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A 5-foot-11, 185-pound redshirt senior who missed the 2015 season because of a torn ACL in his right knee, he said he wants his blue-collar approach to be an example for his teammates.
“I’ve seen a lot and I’ve played a lot so I just try to shed wisdom and let them know I’m available and let them know about anything they need,” Fields said Friday, Day 2 of the ACC Kickoff media event at Charlotte’s Westin hotel. “I just try to set the example and try to earn the guys’ respect every time I come out on the field.”
Fields is the unquestioned leader in a secondary that lost three starters from a year ago. The Providence Day graduate was tied for second on the team in interceptions (two) and added 30 tackles in Duke’s 4-8 season. He credits the people at Providence Day for grooming him into what he is.
Fields said it was an adjustment – both physically and mentally – going to Providence Day. His home is in northwest Charlotte, and the school is south of the city.
When Fields enrolled, in the sixth grade, he had to make new friends and adjust to the private-school lifestyle. But when he adjusted, he blossomed.
Under head coach Bruce Hardin, Fields helped lead the Chargers to three state playoff berths and one championship.
“I really appreciate the experience I got at Providence Day and I appreciate all the support,” Fields said. “They allowed me to grow. I was a lot more prepared than a lot of other people.”
Fields said he sees a lot of similarities between Hardin and Blue Devils coach David Cutcliffe. That factor, coupled with the proximity to home, encouraged Fields to chose Duke.
Scoping the crowd for his family when he was younger was a pregame ritual, and that has continued in college.
“I play for God and then I play for my family,” Fields said. “They try to come to all the games. I really wanted to go to Duke so I could stay closer to home. That’s been huge for me.”
Fields was joined at the event by sophomore quarterback Daniel Jones, who played at Charlotte Latin, one of Providence Day’s biggest rivals. The two always joke about their high school days, but it’s all love in the locker room. On the field, it’s still a rivalry.
“He’s obviously an elite defensive back and if something works against Bryon, then it’s probably going to work on Saturday,” Jones said.
Last season was the Blue Devils’ first losing season since 2012, before Fields arrived. Now in his last year, he wants to remind people of the success Duke has had recently.
That’s why he wore the ring.
“The goal is to win every game we play honestly,” Fields said. “I think we have the team that has enough talent and if we really lock in and focus and mature like we can, then we have a chance to win every game we play.”