WPIAL Standout Fielding Increased Interest

WPIAL Standout Fielding Increased Interest

Jaleel Fields turned heads with a strong showing at the Army Combine. Where does Penn State stand with the defensive linemen?

Jaleel Fields won a WPIAL title last season with Aliquippa. He then marched all the way to Hershey, Pa., with the Quips in December, where they dropped a 17-14 thriller to Wyomissing in the PIAA Class AAA title game.

For all intents and purposes, the final two months of Fields' junior season were filled with big boy football. And for all intents and purposes, that competition was blown out of the water last week in Texas.

Already gaining interest from a host of schools along the East Coast, Fields took part in the U.S. Army Combine Jan. 3-5, which featured the nation's best 500 underclassman in conjunction with the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. The first national combine experience for the 6-foot-2, 255-pound defensive tackle was an eye-opening one.

“It was just a higher level down there, but I think it went really good,” Fields said. “You just have to take it and go with it.

“They said the results wouldn't be in for about a week or two, but I felt I did well in the 40 yard dash, as well as the vertical jump. I was last timed with a 5.1-second 40 yard dash, and I feel like I did better this time.”

Whether or not he did, plenty of schools are already taking notice. Though he didn't have his season stats readily available, he put a hurting on plenty of opposing running backs and signal callers, finishing well north of 80 tackles and a dozen sacks in Aliquippa's 15-1 season.

“Our season went very well, even though we lost in the state title game,” Fields said. “I'm proud of our accomplishments, but I know I need to keep hitting the weight room to get better.”

He's also playing basketball for the Quips this winter, following in the footsteps of many linemen who refine their agility and quickness during the offseason on the court.

“Right now, it's helping most with my foot speed and my quickness,” Fields said. “That's what I really want to focus on, and basketball is helping me improve, for sure.”

Penn State is just one of a host of schools that have show Fields interest. Pittsburgh, North Carolina State, Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin, to name a few, are also assessing his talent. And for the Nittany Lions, he is working on building a relationship through the eyes of quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher.

“I've been talking to Coach Fisher for a while now, because he's my recruiting coach,” Fields said. “I don't know a whole lot about Penn State right now, but I'm still researching them and all the other schools showing interest in me.”

That said, he does know about one aspect of the Nittany Lions' history in particular.

“Joe Paterno, of course, is the one thing I know about Penn State,” Fields said. “I definitely know about Coach Paterno.”

He also knows how he would like his spring and summer to pan out -- when he's not practicing or playing for the 3-7 Quips' hoops team or hitting the weight room, of course.

“I have a trip to Pittsburgh's Junior Day planned right now, because one of their coaches was at our school this week,” Fields said. “I still waiting to see what other Junior Day opportunities come up, and I'm also trying to go to one of the NIKE Sparq camps and some other schools' camps over the summer.”

But for now, Fields will wait for his combine results to come back and continue to work for his first offer.

“The best part about the combine was the one-on-one competitions, because it was real intense,” Fields said of the drills that pitted offensive lineman vs. defensive lineman. “At this point, I'm just letting things happen as they come, and taking it one step at a time. I'm just excited to see what's out there.”

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