Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Queering The Map shows queer love on campus
‘You know absolutely nothing’: Students frustrated with NU’s handling of academic integrity cases
NU’s Summer Class Schedule offers flexibility, opportunities for academic advancement
Community awards, advocacy headline Evanston’s fifth annual Juneteenth parade
Race Against Hate: Ricky Byrdsong’s Legacy
The Week Ahead, June 17-23: Juneteenth, Summer Solstice and Pride Celebrations in Chicagoland
Evanston Environment Board drops fossil fuels divestment, recommends updates to leaf blower ordinance
Perry: A little humility goes a long way

Brew, Hou, Leung, Pandey: On being scared to tweet and the pressure to market yourself as a student journalist

June 4, 2024

Haner: A love letter to the multimedia room

June 4, 2024

Derrick Gragg appointed as Northwestern’s vice president for athletic strategy, search for new athletic director begins

Lacrosse: Northwestern’s Izzy Scane wins 2024 Honda Sport Award

June 13, 2024

Lacrosse: Northwestern’s Izzy Scane wins 2024 Tewaaraton Award

May 30, 2024


The secret (and short) lives of cicadas on campus

NU Declassified: Prof. Barbara Butts teaches leadership through stage management

Everything Evanston: Behind the boba in downtown Evanston

Without Sutton, NU’s thinking Arby

It’s week one against Towson, and quarterback Mike Kafka hands the ball off to the short, stoutly-built running back next to him wearing number 19. The ball carrier explodes through a collapsed Wildcat line, breaking one tackle and weaving his way through the left side of the Eagles’ secondary. He extends the ball away from his chest as he crosses the goal line, scoring his second touchdown of the first quarter.

Northwestern fans have seen many similar plays from number 19 over the last four years. Only this year, it’s not Tyrell Sutton donning the purple jersey with the white numbering but Arby Fields, a true freshman running back who has been compared to Sutton since the day he arrived in Evanston.

“I like it a lot,” Fields said of being measured against the former Big Ten Freshman of the Year. “If I’m drawing comparisons to a guy who is playing in the (NFL) right now, I think that’s a compliment.”

Sutton took the conference, and country, by storm as a freshman in 2005, rushing for 1,474 yards and 16 touchdowns. Fields, on the other hand, has steadily worked his way into the Cats’ running back-by-committee approach, collecting 120 yards and three touchdowns on the ground through his first four games.

While Fields may be the spitting image of his predecessor on the field, both standing at 5-foot-9 and wearing the same number, NU coach Pat Fitzgerald thinks otherwise.

“If I put him out in (number) 22, nobody would be making comparisons,” Fitzgerald said.

Matt MacPherson, the Cats’ running backs coach, acknowledged both backs have good skills catching the ball out of the backfield and are both built low to the ground. Still, he said, their style of play is different.

“Arby is probably a little bit faster than Tyrell,” MacPherson said. “Tyrell was probably used to being more of a north-south, in-between-the-tackles type runner.”

Fitzgerald points to Fields’ talkative manner as the biggest off-the-field difference between the two, a quality that may bode well in Fields’ future development as a vocal leader of the team.

“Arby has already said more words than Tyrell did in any point of his career,” Fitzgerald said. “So I don’t think there are any comparisons.”

Despite the coaching staff downplaying the comparisons to Sutton in Fields’ young career, they noted that undersized ball carriers have to show something extra to compensate for their lack of size.

“They’re going to stick their foot in the ground and try to run off a half of a man or a quarter of a man, as opposed to just trying to run through them,” MacPherson said.

Fields doesn’t think his small stature will be an issue, as his knack for evading would-be tacklers more than makes up for it. But he attributes his success to a more basic skill: finding holes and hitting them.

The running back has done just that so far, averaging five yards per carry. The quickness and acceleration Fields has shown out of the backfield may be due to a skill set he learned from a different sport.

“As far as catching, running balls down and taking routes to the ball, it draws on a lot of similar things as baseball,” Fields said. “Sometimes you’ve got to be athletic and go and make a play.”

Fields was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 34th round of June’s draft. Instead of choosing to take the uncertain road of professional baseball, he decided to run the ball for Captain Cat and plans to patrol center field for Paul Stevens’ squad this spring.

“There’s always going to be a time in our career where we have to hang up the cleats and get a real job,” Fields said, explaining why he chose NU. “And when that time comes, I want to have this degree.”

Although Fields’ decision to attend college was one for the long-term, he’s already seeing plenty of early benefits.

“I’ve got all kinds of friends playing minor league baseball right now, and they say it’s not fun until you get to the big leagues,” he said. “I’m having a blast out here.”

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Without Sutton, NU’s thinking Arby