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Earning locker room’s respect is ‘first’ on Justin Fields’ mind

Fields has a quiet confidence that commands respect, Ohio State coach Ryan Day said.

CFP Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl - Clemson v Ohio State
Justin Fields and Ohio State coach Ryan Day talk after beating Clemson in the national semifinal on Jan. 1.
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Not long after checking into Halas Hall for the first time Friday, rookie quarterback Justin Fields bumped into a rehabbing Tarik Cohen. Someday soon — exactly when will depend on whether Bears veterans truly skip voluntary workouts — the rookie will get his chance, in person, to make a first impression on the rest of his new teammates.

Fields is confident it will go well. He did something similar two years ago after transferring from Georgia to Ohio State.

“I didn’t have personal relationships with my teammates [at Ohio State],” he said Friday. “So what I pretty much did there was show them how much I wanted to win and how much I wanted to be there. I did that by working hard in workouts and weight training and coming in first in sprint drills and stuff like that.

“As time went along I just started building personal relationships from guys who were freshmen, guys who were seniors and guys who were walk-ons. I think it’s very important to get to know your teammates and kind of build those personal relationships with them — so, that way, you can connect on the highest level.”

Fields has a quiet confidence that commands respect, Ohio State coach Ryan Day said.

“You can hear it, you can see it,” he said. “And I think when you get on the field, the guys believe in him because he can do so much. …

“Everyone has their own leadership style. He can get after you if need be, but he can also put his arm around you and connect with you that way, kind of pull guys with you. He’ll do the same thing there. It doesn’t just happen overnight. You have to get the respect of the locker room first. And that’s first on his mind.”

Fields, who took a 6 a.m. flight out of Georgia, already knows one teammate. He met Andy Dalton, who the Bears still call their starting quarterback, this offseason in California.