Addition of Tony Fields II Gives Neal Brown Flexibility at Linebacker

West Virginia finds depth and versatility at linebacker with the addition of Tony Fields II
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West Virginia linebacker Tony Fields II saw his first live-action in the Mountaineers' second scrimmage Saturday morning.

The Arizona grad-transfer recently cleared COVID-19 protocols and has been with the team for a little more than a week. Nonetheless, Fields II has quickly grabbed the attention of head coach Neal Brown, citing him as one of his top performers on the day and stating that he was “really active in his first live football with us.”

“He’s playing ‘MIKE’ right now for us,” Brown later elaborated. “He really runs, and you can tell he loves to play the game. He plays at full speed every snap. Great in pursuit. He’s learning our movements. He’s got great energy, and he’s physical at the point of contact. So, excited about him and what he’s going to bring all-around to our defense.”

Fields II started 37 consecutive games at weakside linebacker and earned Freshman All-American status in 2017 with Arizona. However, he is competing at middle linebacker with redshirt senior Dylan Tonkery, who Brown said is “one of our more improved players from last season,” for the starting role.

Initially, Jared Bartlett was at middle linebacker along with Tonkery, but the addition of Fields provides immediate depth to a position group that was thin coming into the season.

“With Tony coming in, it gives us flexibility,” said Brown. “We can play Bartlett back. Bartlett and VD (Vandarius Cowan) both can get into that Bandit position - that kind of a hybrid linebacker pass rush position.”

Jeff Koonz

Inside Linebacker coach Jeff Koonz

Brown also noted that Fields II provides depth in the nickel and dime packages as well.

The weakside linebacker or “WILL” seems to be set, with Josh Chandler-Semedo at the top of the depth chart with Exree Loe behind him. 

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