Bank of America Stadium stands a few blocks away from The Westin Hotel in uptown Charlotte, where the ACC is hosting its annual media event this week.
Back in 2013, it housed Duke’s most important football game in decades when the Blue Devils played Florida State for the ACC championship.
Bryon Fields Jr., then a freshman, was on the field that night in his hometown, and sacked Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston even though Florida State routed the Blue Devils 45-9.
On Friday, Fields returned to the neighborhood flashing the spoils of that season’s success. Now a redshirt senior and a starting cornerback, Fields is the only player on Duke’s roster who played in 2013 when Duke won a school-record 10 games and the Coastal Division championship.
“I feel so old,” Fields said. “To get back there this season would be great for us. I’m excited for the opportunity.”
As one of two players representing the Blue Devils at Friday’s ACC Football Kickoff, Fields pulled his big championship ring out of storage and placed it on his right hand ring finger.
“I don’t wear this one too much,” Fields said. “This is my favorite one. I only bring it out on special occasions.”
Fields does have two other members of Duke’s 2013 recruiting class still on the team with him. Defensive tackle Mike Ramsey, now a starter, and reserve quarterback Parker Boehme took redshirt seasons as freshmen and didn’t play on that championship team.
Fields played in 14 games in 2013, starting once, as a true freshman. He started 13 games as a sophomore when Duke went 9-4, so he made positive contributions to the teams that set a Duke record by combining for 19 wins over a two-year stretch.
A torn ACL in his right knee cost him the 2015 season when he took a medical redshirt. He returned to start all 12 games for the Blue Devils last season when they suffered through a 4-8 record and missed a bowl game for the first time since 2011.
As the most experienced player returning to Duke’s defensive secondary, his play will be critical to Duke’s hopes to win the Coastal Division again and return to a bowl game.
He’s yet to pull out the Coastal Division championship ring to show the team’s younger players. They’re tired of hearing his “old-man stories” anyway, he said with a laugh..
“I’m just really trying to enjoy it all,” Fields said. “It’s my last ride. Leave it all out there for my teammates. Give it my all like always.”