Kyree Fields and family Photo by: Adam Minichino/Dispatch Staff Buy this photo.
February 8, 2018 10:18:57 AM
Injuries prevented Kyree Fields, Jeremiah Hodges, and Tyran Reed from having the senior seasons they would have imagined with the New Hope High School football team.
But the disappointment all three players felt during the season when they weren't able to be on the field was nowhere to be found Wednesday morning.
Instead, there was an air of excitement and potential in the New Hope High library as friends, family members, and coaches watched as Fields signed a National Letter of Intent to play football at Hinds Community College in Raymond and Hodges and Reed signed to play at Itawamba C.C. in Fulton.
Fields, Hodges, and Reed joined wide receiver Jeremy Tate Jr., who signed with Memphis in the early signing period in December, as members of the Trojans' 2018 signing class.
Fields said his older brother, Chris Blair, who used to play at Columbus High, is at Hinds, which added to the appeal of going to Hinds C.C.
Fields also had offers from Alcorn State and East Central C.C. With aspirations to play at a higher Division I level, Fields said he opted to go the junior college route in hopes of realizing that goal.
Fields thanked his mother, Santel, and New Hope High football coach Kris Pickle for staying with him when he thought he wanted to quit football prior to his sophomore season.
"I wasn't coming to workouts and he called my mom," Fields said. "I knew it, but I didn't want to work hard. I wanted it to be easy. Coming into the 10th grade with all of the seniors, it wasn't as easy as it usually was. He just told me I need to continue to work hard and continue to believe in what I can do.
"I am glad he made me come back because I wouldn't be sitting her ready to sign. A lot of thanks to coach Pickle and my mom."
Reed said he liked the "vibe" he felt from the coaches at ICC. He also liked the spread offense the Indians run in part because it is similar to the one he was a part of with the Trojans.
"It was a hard decision," said Reed, who also had offers from Mississippi Delta C.C. and East Central C.C. He said he liked ICC better because it is closer to home and he didn't feel as comfortable at East Central C.C. as he did at ICC. "I really enjoyed the coached. They showed love and took me in. It wasn't an easy decision, but I think I made the right decision."
Reed said he and Hodges didn't plan to go to the same school, but he acknowledged it is "pretty cool" to know he will go to the next level with someone he knows.
Pickle credited each of the players for fighting through injuries that affected their senior seasons. He admitted he probably felt bad for Reed, who missed the season opener due to a stress fracture, came back and played well against Houston, and then was injured in the game against Kosciusko. Even though Reed didn't get an opportunity to showcase his skills (he only had 60 carries), Pickle is confident Reed, who is a member of the school's boys basketball team, will do well at ICC.
"I can remember the start of the year. He told me, 'Coach, you can put it on my shoulders. This is going to be my year,' " Pickle said. "Karma hit. He goes in with a stress fracture and comes out with torn meniscus. I am just glad to see him get an opportunity to play at the next level. I am glad somebody took a chance on him because he is over his knee injury.
"Tyran has so much potential because he is such a good athlete. He is a well-spoken kid. I is respectful, and I think he is humbled enough that he realizes (football) can be taken away from him. He is going to work hard, and I wouldn't expect him to do anything differently."
Fields played a variety of roles at New Hope. As a junior, Fields played outside linebacker even though he was a safety. This season, he tried to play safety and wound up seeing significant time as the team's quarterback.
Pickle said Fields was a "team player" who fought through a shoulder sprain and a high ankle sprain.
"He is a phenomenal athlete and one of the smartest kids I have coached," Pickle said. "He is probably one of the most dependable kids I have coached. You can count on him to be where he is supposed to be. The kids kind of gravitated toward him.
"I think he is going to turn into a monster. He is finally going to be able to get into the weight room and develop his body. When he does that, I think he is going to be a 6-1, 225-pound safety who is going to go on and play Division I football at safety."
Hodges, a transfer from Columbus High, dislocated his knee and missed a significant portion of the season. At 6-foot-4, 317 pounds, Hodges showed the potential at guard and tackle to be a Division I player. Pickle said Hodges overcame some initial adjustments from transferring and displayed the promise he heard about from the coaches at Columbus High.
"The coaches told me I have a very, very good chance to come in and play right away," said Hodges, who didn't play football as a junior. He said he "kind of gave up" on football and "lost the feeling" before realizing the game was for him. "My goal is to come in already conditioned and ahead of the other offensive linemen, stronger and mentally focused."
Pickle said Hodges worked hard to recover from the injury and showed he wants to play football in college.
"Luckily there was no ligament," Pickle said. "I am glad to see him develop as a kid. I am proud to see Jeremiah develop into what I think he can. If he goes there and he works hard and does the things he is capable of, he will play Division I football after two years. He is a smart kid, a well-spoken kid.
"All three of those kids are really good kids. It is unfortunate they had their high school careers cut short due to injuries, but I am thankful they have an opportunity to play on."
Fields, Hodges, and Reed plan to use their opportunities as "springboards" to get them to where they want to go. They said they plan to use their schools as stepping stones to get to where they need to be.
"I know I am going to have to work a lot harder than I worked in high school," Reed said. "I have to get my knee stronger and everything back in place like I want it to be so I can go to the next level without any knee problems or any problems."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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