August 31, 2018 11:25:03 AM
SCOOBA -- East Mississippi Community College backup quarterback Vijay Miller scrambled to his left on third down early in the fourth quarter.
The game had been decided long ago, but Miller didn't get the first down because former New Hope High School standout Kyree Fields flew across the field and flailed his right arm to punch Miller out of bounds and the ball out of his hand.
It was one of many times the Columbus native made his presence known Thursday night in the Hinds C.C. defense.
Despite Fields' performance, No. 1 EMCC rolled to a 50-0 victory against No. 13 Hinds C.C. in the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior College (MACJC) season opener for both teams at Sullivan-Windham Field.
Fields did all he could with a 12-tackle effort in the first game of his college career. He was the only Eagle to reach double digits in tackles.
In the opening series, Fields was part of a two-high safety look alongside Jataquist Sherrod, a former standout at Noxubee County High. As EMCC showed a willingness to run the ball -- 73 yards in the first quarter -- Hinds C.C. moved Fields into the box, sometimes at an even depth with the linebackers and others in the slot as the nickelback.
"He's a guy that can move and play different positions back there, a versatile kid who can do a lot of different things," Hinds C.C. coach Larry Williams said. "He's one of our leaders and is going to be a great football player.
"He can play the safety position and they've got to be the guys doing all the adjusting. He's a real smart kid. He's picked up stuff real quick. He's got a tremendous amount of football knowledge. That's the biggest thing, the football knowledge."
Fields' adjustment is even more impressive considering he's playing a role unlike the one he played at New Hope High. Despite being a freshman, Fields serves as a key communicator when he moves from level to level within the defense.
"In high school, I really played down safety, in the box hitting a lot," Fields said. "I got to get used to covering faster receivers and stuff like that. I think I did OK for my first college game.
"I'm really a quiet person, but on the field at practice, that's the only time you're going to hear me talking and communicating."
It's not all scheme for Fields. As he did in chasing down Miller on that third down, Fields used his athleticism to cover a lot of ground to reach the ball carrier. Hinds C.C. hopes Fields won't have to do as much in weeks to come thanks to Columbus natives Christopher Blair, a sophomore, and Joshua Gray, a freshman Joshua Gray. Blair, who had two tackles against EMCC, is focused on helping Gray adjust to the college game.
"Josh, he really came in and we had him rated high after his junior year as a running back," Williams said. "After that knee injury people came off of him and we lucked up to get him, but he's got good football IQ. His better days of football are way ahead of him."
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson
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