Berry Tramel: Oklahoma State’s Tyler Fields a walk-on success story

Oklahoma State football 2017 Match Preview and Prediction: Mike Gundy was vacationing in Florida a few days ago when a couple of college football fans recognized him and struck up a conversation. They were Tulane graduates. “One guy said when he’s hiring for his company, he looks for college athletes, and he prefers ones that walked on,” Gundy said of the non-scholarship players who fill out the rosters of most university squads. That’s what Gundy likes to hear. “I have a real soft place in my heart for walk-ons,” Gundy said. “Most walk-ons are walking on for a reason. They just love Oklahoma State, love being part of a team, they love the game.”

Oklahoma State football 2017 Match Preview and Prediction

Oklahoma State football 2017 Match Preview and Prediction

Fields arrived in Stillwater in 2008 with big dreams. He has big dreams still. Fields never made it big with OSU football. A non-scholarship linebacker from Detroit via Hugo, Fields played little. But he learned a lot. OSU practice began Sunday in Stillwater, with walk-ons mixed in with scholarship players. More walk-ons will join the team when school starts in a few weeks. Some will wash out. Some will get playing time and even earn a scholarship. Most will play little and go about the business of preparing for life by spending a few hours a day on a football team. “As a walk-on, my joy came from watching my teammates succeed,” Fields said. “That became my success. I’m not in the stat book at OSU, but I am in the hearts of a lot of people in OSU athletics and in the Stillwater community.”

Fields today is a financial adviser in Oklahoma City. He hopes to eventually advise athletes, who can garner great riches but often don’t know how to handle such immediate largesse. But for now, Fields works for Merrill Lynch, chasing leads and knocking on doors and advising people what to do with their money. He figures 90 percent of the people in his business fail. And he’s certainly faced a lot of rejection; even had the cops called on him three times for being the wrong color in a certain neighborhood. However, Fields said, “my past experiences have prepared me for the challenges of today. Sports teaches you to keep getting back up every time. I am here to empower everyone to conquer the fear of failure through the relentless will of passion amplified by your ambition to win.”

Oklahoma State football 2017 Match Schedule

Fields grew up in Detroit, the rustiest of Rust Belt cities. His father was killed before Fields was born. His mom worked hard. Life wasn’t easy. When Fields was 16, he came to Hugo, in southeastern Oklahoma, to spend some time with his grandparents. He decided to stay. Fields played football at Hugo, suffered a dislocated knee injury that limited scholarship opportunities, then decided to walk on at OSU, since that was the school of his Detroit hero, Barry Sanders. Fields suffered another dislocated knee while in Stillwater, but he persevered. Stayed on the team five years, made friends and an impact, got a Fiesta Bowl ring and a will to succeed.

Oklahoma State football 2017, Fields ended up with a double major of finance and accounting, with a minor in sports management. He became president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He met his wife, Marcquese, who now is a nurse at The Children’s Center in Bethany, and they have a daughter, Trinity, who turns 4 in September. “It’s really nice to see what he’s done,” Gundy said. “Yeah, doesn’t have a lot of records. But he’s set himself up for life.” There’s nothing easy about the life of a walk-on, especially back then, when walk-ons weren’t afforded the same amenities as scholarship athletes, which now they are. Fields took on all jobs he could find. Posthole digging. Roofing houses. Cutting grass. “It was really hard,” Fields said. “I felt like quitting. Being a walk-on has prepared me for doing what I’m doing right now. I had to balance my time.”

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