There are plenty of high school athletes who don't take academics seriously.
Many of them are the most talented athletes around, but a lack of academic discipline, or concern, or whatever the case may be, ends up being the ultimate dead end to a once burgeoning athletic career.
There are others, like Bethune-Cookman linebacker Jarkevis Fields.
Fields played football at Sanford Seminole High and managed to keep his academic marks high enough to allow him to play by standards set by the Florida High School Athletics Association. Those standards, however, would not cut it when it came time for the talented linebacker to move on to the NCAA level.
"He could have gone to a lower level, like maybe a Division II school or something like that, but he didn't want that. He knew he was better than that," said former Seminole assistant coach Rob Vite, who is now the head varsity football coach in Sanford. "I've coached many talented athletes and Jarkevis is equal to or a greater talent than any athletes who play in the BCS. He'll be playing on Sundays. No doubt in my mind about that."
Fields did not qualify academically out of Seminole High, so he opted to enroll at B-CU, which meant he had to pay his own tuition for the first year. As difficult as that may have been, financially, it wasn't near as hard as it was watching from afar.
"He took the route less chosen. He sat out a year and had to watch football," Vite said. "That just ate him up. Basically, he had to sit out and kind of walk-on."
And that drove him to get back on the field.
That's where he'll be Saturday, starting at middle linebacker for the Wildcats in the Florida Classic at the Citrus Bowl (2:30 p.m., ESPN Classic) for their annual meeting with rival Florida A&M.
"It's just a blessing for me more than anything," said Fields, who is leading the B-CU defense with 70 tackles in 10 games. "Just getting a chance to play football again, and on a full scholarship … I just give my all on every play; hat on a hat."
Fields was starting linebacker for the 2008 state champion Seminole High football team during his junior year, and he knew he was going to have to improve his grades to continue to the next level following his 2009 senior season. He just didn't quite make it.
"My parents were on me, but I just didn't get it," Fields said. "They wanted me to go out and play my first year [of college] and when they found out I couldn't, they were on me even more to get into my school work."
And so he did. He was all alone this time, however. He was a college freshman on an island. Even though he knew he would become a member of the B-CU football team, he could not be part of any activities involving his future teammates. He did, however, keep in touch with then-defensive coordinator Marc Lippens, who is now the B-CU assistant athletic director in charge of student-athlete support.
"I was just working out and running on my own and I was always in the little study lab that they have here," Fields said. "I did talk with Coach Lippens and he helped me a lot."
And he also leaned on Vite.
"It was hard for him to get there, but he went ahead and did it and everything else for him is history," Vite said.
Florida Classic notes: In addition to being named MEAC offensive player of the week, B-CU QB David Blackwell earned National FCS Co-Offensive Player of the Week from The Sports Network. Blackwell rushed for 203 yards and threw for 147 in a 59-3 win over Savannah State. He shared the honor with Jeff Matthews of Cornell, who was 40-of-46 for 521 yards and five touchdowns against Columbia. … When Damien Fleming takes the field Saturday against B-CU, he'll be the third consecutive freshman under center for the Rattlers in the regular-season finale, following Martin Ukpai and Austin Trainor. Upkai and Trainor also beat B-CU.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times