The logos on the shirts and jackets along the Beaufort Eagles’ sideline Thursday night were conspicuous, a smattering of NCAA Division II programs mostly from the middle to upper-middle of the pack. The kind of programs who could scoop up a late-blooming star who slipped through the cracks and end up with a future Harlon Hill Trophy winner who might just help them hoist an elusive national championship trophy.
More than a dozen coaches from at least a half-dozen programs watched Kacy Fields do what he has done ever since sliding into the backfield to bolster a Beaufort offense that was built to grind it out on the ground. They watched him pound into the line and drag the pile over and over again, they watched him answer a momentum-building Powdersville touchdown with an electrifying 93-yard kickoff return, and they saw him watch a hole evaporate and cut back across the field for a 75-yard touchdown romp that all but sealed the Eagles’ first state championship in 77 years.
When the dust settled, Kacy Fields had carried the ball 37 times and piled up 219 yards and three touchdowns, not to mention yet another game-changing play on special teams. He was the darling of the broadcast, the talk of Twitter, and a heroic figure in a historic season for the ages. The breakout star who was finally going to get that avalanche of offers.
He’s still waiting.
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A couple offers trickled in the day after Fields stole the show along with Appalachian State commit Colton Phares, with Savannah State and Mars Hill showing love, and a couple more followed from Limestone and North Greenville on Monday, but most of the logos present on the sideline Thursday are still missing from Fields’ offer sheet, and that’s befuddling beyond belief.
When a guy rolls up more than 2,200 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns in just 11 games after starting the season as a wide receiver and repeatedly makes eye-popping plays on special teams, wills his team to a state title, carries a 4.19 GPA, and makes his dang coach cry every time he talks about him … and you see it in front of your eyes … what are you waiting for?
The “slept-on” story is a common one, and there’s usually an underlying factor that can pretty easily be uncovered — lacking grades or test scores, a selfish attitude that is detrimental to the team, a lack of “want-to,” or a glaring weakness that won’t play at the next level.
The “knock” on Fields apparently has been his speed, but we haven’t seen anyone catch him yet when he gets past the second level of the defense, including Powdersville’s terrific Thomas Williams, who is headed to play DB at Virginia Tech. Whatever measure they’re using to assess his speed, it’s busted, because his will play.
Another overlooked star from the Lowco has a theory. Ron Parker was once a diamond in the rough at Beaufort High begging for an opportunity to show what he could do. He got a shot at Newberry College, where he’s now in the Hall of Fame, and kept grinding until he had a regular gig with the Kansas City Chiefs.
“Ghost” says he never checked the boxes coaches were looking for either … until the lights went on.
“He kinda reminds me of myself just being in that sleeper category, because he’s not really getting the offers and nobody’s really talking about him like that,” Parker says. “But I guarantee you if he would get a shot and somebody gave him a chance to earn a spot on their team, I know he would make it no problem.”
Or maybe some coaches view the giant chip on Fields’ shoulder and his direct nature about it as a red flag? Who knows. He did post a preseason edict warning to “watch how disrespectful I get this season,” but he prefaced it with “don’t mean to be like this,” which is perfectly on brand. A gentleman off the field, a stone-cold killer on it.
And most of all, he believes he can, so he will.
“I was very eager tonight,” Fields said. “I told you, most underrated player in South Carolina. That chip on my shoulder – I wore it heavy tonight.”
Talented football players are a dime a dozen, but the ones who push their potential to the maximum have something that cannot be taught. Former Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel, like many before him, used to refer to “it,” an undefinable factor only a fraction of players possess. These days, I believe it’s known as “having that dawg in them.”
Kacy Fields has it, whatever it is, and he most definitely has a savage beast within. The coaches who missed it better hope they aren’t on the opposing sideline when they finally see it.
By Justin Jarrett