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By LARRY VAUGHT

Former Frankfort three-sport standout E.J. Fields thought he might have a chance to play at Kentucky last year because of UK’s lack of returning playmakers at receiver. However, he had two things against him — he was making the switch from high school quarterback to receiver and he had a pulled hamstring muscle.

“Not getting to play was kind of hard at first, but the overall year helped me. I had started on my high school team since I was a freshman. I wasn’t used to practicing and not playing, so that took some adjustment,” Fields said.  “It is a big transition watching instead of playing. But coming into a new situation and new position at receiver, it helps to have that extra year of experience to really learn what college football is all about.”

Fields says because he was hurt when preseason practice opened and never had a chance to really show what he could do, it was not hard to accept being redshirted even as he watched other freshmen get to play.

“I knew I might be redshirted, but you always want to think you can come in and play. I think every player is that way. Everybody wants to be in the rotation and play. But when I look back on it, it helped me, especially with giving me a chance to improve my size and speed,” Fields said.

“The move to receiver was definitely harder than I thought. There is a lot more to playing receiver than I thought there was. But with me playing quarterback and knowing the routes and stuff, it did at least make it a little easier to learn all I had to know.”

He could only watch as freshman Eric Adeyemi, Gene McCaskill, Aaron Boyd and Matt Roark all were in and out of the playing rotation as UK searched for a playmaker to go with Randall Cobb, another true freshman.

“It was hard, especially when they struggled, but it made it all worthwhile knowing I would have another year to play and learn,” Fields said. “I had to work on my quickness — and catching is something everybody can always do better. But definitely my quickness is what really has to get better because everybody is so fast and strong here. That’s one thing I learned by watching these other guys try to play as freshmen.”

Fields enjoyed getting to dress and be on the sideline in Kentucky’s first home game. After that, he watched from the Commonwealth Stadium stands with other redshirt players.

“You get used to it and it wasn’t that bad, except for the real cold games,” Fields said. “Since we didn’t travel to road games, that was like a day off. I would go home (to Frankfort) or just hang out with friends. Going to the bowl game was a good experience. I’m glad I got to do that.”

Fields isn’t worried about being overwhelmed this season even though other receivers in his class struggled to be consistent playmakers.

“This is the right spot and I feel like I am a receiver. With me playing defense in high school, I could handle the blocking and the contact you have to take out there in the SEC,” Fields said. “I think I can help next year.

“My big goal is to help the team all I can. That is my biggest goal right now. We have a good class of freshmen and our future is pretty bright. We all get along well and have a great chemistry in our class, which is important.”

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