Skylar Fields, who decided this week to be a Texas Longhorn, is considered one of the top 5 players currently in the 2019 class
Right about now, nothing is bigger than Texas’ recruiting game.
To say the Longhorns are owning the headlines is liking saying Mt. Everest is a tall mountain or the sun a hot star. All true but vastly understated.
A few weeks ago we spoke with Logan Eggleston – a 6-2 Class of 2019 outside who was part of the Youth National Team with another high-flyer from the same class in Skylar Fields – about her commitment to the school.
It was the latest good news for a program that has been receiving plenty of it. In August, the Longhorns watched their recruits dominate the PVB Senior Ace list, with recently-named Gatorade National Player of the Year Lexi Sun at No. 1, Bri Butler at No. 2 and Ashley Shook at No. 6.
That powerhouse recruiting class might not eventually be matched by the Class of 2019, but the Longhorns took the first step with a verbal from 6-4 middle Molly Phillips this past fall followed by Eggleston.
Then, this week the news broke that Fields, a 6-3 outside from Houston Jrs 16 Elite who touches 10-8, also committed to the Longhorns.
That wasn’t all!
While not part of the 2019 class, 5-11 setter Naomi Campbell should be a highly-touted member of the Class of 2020 and she also verballed to Texas, hours before Fields announced her decision.
With so much happening in the 2017 and 2019 (and now 2020) classes, it’s easy to overlook Texas’ tiny but impactful Class of 2018, which features 6-3 middle Asjia O’Neal.
Per NCAA rules, coaches are not allowed to comment on players until they sign a National Letter of Intent, but even if Texas’ Jerritt Elliott could speak what would he really even need to say?
The potential of these players speaks for itself.
Like John Tawa shared in this week’s Recent Commitments, all this should keep Texas in the national title hunt through at least 2023.
What’s also impressive is Texas is (not surprisingly) pulling from everywhere. It might not be difficult (at least on the surface) for Texas to get in-state recruits like Butler, O’Neal, Phillips and Fields, but Shook is from Illinois, Sun from California, Eggleston from Tennessee and Campbell from Florida.
Below, we spoke with Fields, whose older sister, Sydnye, plays for North Carolina, about her commitment to Texas.
Was volleyball always your sport or did you try other sports first?
Fields: I was originally playing basketball and soccer. I was really good at soccer but I stopped because they wanted me to be a goalie but I was a scorer. Basketball I played that until it got boring. My older sister played volleyball and it looked fun so I wanted to try it.
It doesn’t sound like you were going for that goalie stuff in soccer?
Fields: No, because I like to score. Being in the net, you can’t run out and score. You have to stay there and block shots.
What was volleyball like for you when you first started?
Fields: I felt it was more challenging for me to learn and the competition was better. When I first started (when I was 10) I couldn’t serve the ball to the 10-foot line on my side of the net. I wanted to be able to serve and didn’t want to get taken out so I wanted to get better. Passing was a big struggle too until I started to learn the mental side and focusing on it.
When did you realize your jumping ability was something special?
Fields: I didn’t always realize how high I was jumping until we went to practice and the coaches said there was this (PVB) 10-foot club. I ended up touching 10-8. I think it’s just both being athletic and coming from all the training and working hard.
Was playing a sport in college something you always wanted to do?
Fields: Both my parents were athletes at Clemson. My dad played football and my mom played basketball. My sister is at North Carolina and she was getting letters of interest. I wanted that too from a young age.
With both your parents from Clemson, it must be a happy house right about now? (editor’s note: Clemson’s football team won the National Championship earlier this month)
Fields: They are very excited. Last year I was able to go to a few games, but this year I was so busy I didn’t get to make it to any.
When did your recruiting process get going?
Fields: It all started in seventh grade but between December of eighth grade and into ninth grade it really started peaking. It was an amazing feeling because it felt like the hard work was starting to pay off. It made me want to keep getting better to be able to reach my goals.
What are some of your goals?
Fields: I want to play in the Olympics. I feel being on the Youth National Team was a step closer to that. Going to Florida and hanging out with those 23 girls was a really fun experience. I made some close relationships. Then the 12 girls we went to Puerto Rico and spending a couple of weeks there. It made me a better athlete and person.
How did you start to lean towards Texas?
Fields: I was going on visits and trying to get a feel of the schools beyond volleyball. Volleyball isn’t everything so I was getting a feel for the other things. After the visits I sat down and looked at the pros and cons of each school and narrowed it down to four schools. Then I prayed on it. I went through the pros and cons again and prayed some more. That’s when I knew I was going to Texas.
Did anything specific standout about Texas?
Fields: I was weighing the level of competition, the location, the type of support system, the education, those were the type of things I was putting into play. Texas, every top D1 school I was considering, had what I was looking for. Every school has great coaches, a great environment. It was the top-level competition at Texas, competing day in and day out, that I felt would help me the most in reaching my goal of playing in the Olympics.
Texas has been in the news a lot lately, including Naomi Cabello committing the same day as you. She is a Class of 2020 setter, do you know her?
Fields: Naomi, I really don’t know her. After I posted my tweet, she tweeted me congrats and said we are going to the same school and that she couldn’t wait to play with me.
You played with another Texas recruit on the Youth National Team in Logan Eggleston. Did that sway your decision or influence you at all?
Fields: Logan and I are really close friends. She went to the holiday camp this year but I couldn’t make it. Logan said she was considering Texas and how cool it would be if I came there too. But, no, it was not really an influence on me. She does play the same position, so she’ll push me to be a better player.
What about Lexi Sun, who was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year, do you know her? And of course Bri Butler played at the same club you do, do you know her?
Fields: Lexi, I know she was on the Junior National Team but we never really got to talk because we weren’t training at the same time. Bri, in practice we would always scrimmage their team. She’s a really cool person. I’m excited about playing with her. Her energy is so much fun.
And lastly, what about Molly Phillips, do you know her?
Fields: I do know her because our teams play all the time. She also made the roster of 24 and I got close to her as well.
Club season has been underway for Texas for some time, how is everything coming along at Houston Jrs?
Fields: We started practicing the first week of November. I was diagnosed with mono and actually was only recently cleared to play. I went to practice to cheer the team on and I know when I came back I could help out on the court.
What’s the difference between this group as 16s compared to 15s last season?
Fields: As 15s last year, I think we learned we can’t win games by being athletic. We need technique, we need to be more disciplined. We’ve been more focused and working even harder. We are trying to win a medal at Junior Nationals and not just any medal, the gold medal.