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MARK FIELDS II GOT A FIRST- hand look at the highest level of ootball as a child when his father, Mark Fields, played in the NFL.
The elder Fields was a linebacker for the New
Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers and St. Louis
Rams between 1995 and 2004.
“When we lived in New Orleans, we went to a
lot of games,” the younger Fields said. “For me,
I guess you could say I felt some pressure. But
I didn’t look at it like I was out to prove anybody
wrong or play for other people.”
Now a senior at Hough High in Cornelius,
N.C., Fields started his athletic career as a soc-
cer player before picking up football in fourth
grade. The game came easy to him, although he
hasn’t been blessed with his father’s size. The
elder Fields played at 6-foot- 2, 244 pounds,
whereas his son is 5-foot- 11, 180 pounds.
Thus, the younger Fields is a defensive back.
“What makes me a unique player is my ability
to play multiple positions on defense,” he said.
“I can be physical, and I can cover. I’m a well-
rounded player who can do whatever I need to
do in the secondary.”
Fields flashed that versatility last season in
leading a Hough defense that improved each
week. Hough allowed 14 points or fewer in each
of its last five games.
“The coaching staff here is huge on film prep-
aration, so we watch tape all the time,” Fields
said. “When I get to the next level, my ability to
dissect film will help me out.”
Fields sifted through a slew of scholarship
offers before committing to the University of
South Carolina. He plans to lean on his father
for advice – just as he did entering high school –
before taking the field for the Gamecocks.
“As far as coming up, I remember my dad
telling me stuff to look for,” Fields said. “He
gave me the inside scoop of what guys do in the
league. It gave me an advantage in high school,
staying a step ahead.”
AS THE SON OF T WO PARENTS WHO played professional basketball in Eu- rope, Dorman High (Roebuck, S.C.) senior receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside
grew up in an athletic environment. Still, he
insists he never felt pressured to play sports.
“Not really,” Arcega-Whiteside said. “My mom
and dad thought about that, and they told me
not to worry. There’s no pressure. If I didn’t want
to play, I didn’t have to. That [freedom] made
me want to do it even more.”
Arcega-Whiteside has become a two-sport
star in basketball and football at Dorman. After
a junior season in which he caught 75 passes
for 1,500 yards and 14 touchdowns, he plans
to play football in college. Perhaps it is his par-
ents’ collective lack of experience playing foot-
ball that makes the sport so appealing to him.
“Football, I’ve always had to do myself,” Arce-
ga-Whiteside said. “They couldn’t really teach
me as much as they could in basketball. When
it came to pressure, I didn’t feel any.”
Arcega-Whiteside did feel a strong feeling of
encouragement from his mother when it came
to his school work. He is one of the top students
in his class with a 4. 5 GPA. In April, Arcega-
Whiteside received an offer to play football at
“My mom always told me I had to be differ-
ent,” Arcega-Whiteside said. “I don’t want to
be that player who got kicked off the team for
something stupid or because his grades weren’t
good enough. Growing up in middle school and
high school, I learned from the mistakes of kids
who were messing up.”
Arcega-Whiteside’s work ethic in the class-
room is matched by his dedication to football.
He has embraced the role of being a senior
team leader over the last few months.
“You’ll definitely never catch me at home
watching TV,” Arcega-Whiteside said. “If I’m
watching TV, I’m also stretching or doing pushups. I’m working out all the time. With two parents who were pro basketball players, I grew up
in an environment where if you wanted to play
sports, you had to be good at it.”
Mark Fields II