Sunday, December 28, 2008

A proud new papa

Newborn son drastically alters life of KU’s Fields

Kansas receiver Dexton Fields pulls in a catch during a team practice Saturday, Dec. 29, 2007 at Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida.

Kansas receiver Dexton Fields pulls in a catch during a team practice Saturday, Dec. 29, 2007 at Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida.


Deran Joseph Fields gazes upward, his eyes widening below a curly mat of hair.

At 21⁄2 months old, he doesn’t seem fazed by reporters around him.

“It seems like he’s enjoying it,” Dexton Fields says with the smile of a proud father. “He ain’t crying.”

Dexton isn’t fussing, either.

Two weeks ago, his girlfriend of more than a year, Kelsey Schepmann, had to take a final at Kansas University. That left Dexton, KU’s fourth-leading all-time receptions leader, with baby-sitting responsibilities.

So, when Dexton had to go to a football media day, Deran had to come along, too.

Wearing a blue and white Calvin Klein shirt, brown pants and baby blue slippers, the infant barely made a sound while resting in his father’s arms.

“This is a little bit harder than football,” Fields said. “It kind of put things in perspective when you have a kid. You realize that football is not everything. This is life.”

Life for Dexton Fields is about to change quickly.

He says the government assistance only lasts so long. His college career has only one game remaining. After starting the season with a foot injury, he hasn’t had the kind of senior campaign that he’d hoped for.

Sure, the Insight Bowl will be important to the Jayhawks. It will be important to the coaches and the players and the fans and the families.

But it might be most important for Dexton Fields. This is one of his last chances to show scouts that he deserves a shot in the NFL.

It’s one of his last chances he has to make an impact on the field that could help both he and his son.

“Anything can happen,” Fields said, “if I go out and perform the way that I know that I will.”

‘I’ve never had responsibility like this’

Dexton Fields gave his phone to assistant strength and conditioning coach Jared Kaaiohelo every day, just in case.

The orders were simple: If Dexton’s cell phone received a call from Kelsey, Jared was to pull Dexton out of practice so he could be there for the birth of his son.

On Oct. 2, though, Dexton forgot to bring his phone to the practice field.

After workouts, he received the call. He rushed immediately to the hospital.

Dexton said it was a blur from there. Within a few minutes, he was holding his newborn son.

He said he still remembered his exact thoughts while cradling Deran.

“Just the word, ‘responsibility,’” Dexton said. “Until him, I’ve never had responsibility like this. I could do what I wanted to do, go where I wanted to go. Now, he comes first. That’s what I was thinking: How much it’s going to change. What I had to do to take care of him.”

The week also was significant because Dexton was going to play in his first game for KU since Week 1 after suffering a foot injury. That week, against Iowa State, he caught two passes for 56 yards.

“I wanted to go out there and play the best that I could because I knew eventually I was going to have to provide for him,” Fields said. “Every game has been like that for me.”

It hasn’t been easy adding the extra duties to his schedule.

Dexton had only two classes in the fall semester, and only one of them was on campus. That ended up being a blessing, as taking care of his son became a daily responsibility.

Sometimes, the sleep only came in 30-minute increments. Early-morning weights were made even tougher, as a tired Dexton would make his way to the workout.

He still remained motivated despite the tougher circumstances.

“I have to do it. That’s what I have to keep programming into my mind,” Fields said. “If I don’t, I won’t take care of my responsibility like I need to. I try to look at it like it’s not his fault, you know what I mean? ... I have to take care of him.”

Dexton says the two watch “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Married With Children” on television together. They also occasionally visit teammates’ apartments, where teammates like Joe Mortensen have tried, unsuccessfully, to get Deran to do push-ups.

“He’s not there yet. Of course, he’s still young,” Mortensen said with a laugh. “You gotta (give) tough love. You gotta get him right from the start.”

Looking ahead

Fields said he isn’t surprised that his numbers are down a bit.

After leading the Jayhawks in receptions the last two seasons, Fields is fifth on the team this year with 19 catches for 209 yards and three touchdowns.

“I think once I got injured, (KU quarterback Todd Reesing) found that Kerry (Meier) and (Dezmon) Briscoe were reliable also,” Fields said. “When I came back in, I came back in as the last receiver. I had to kind of get what I could get. I don’t blame him. They handled business while I was out.”

Fields has picked up the pace in his last few games. He has a touchdown reception in three straight contests, and also had his best performance of the season in KU’s last game against Missouri, where he caught seven passes for 72 yards.

“I think Dex definitely has enough talent to play at the next level,” Mortensen said. “He hasn’t had the greatest year. A lot guys on the team haven’t. I think he’s definitely capable of playing.”

Now, Fields knows, has to be the time to show his abilities.

He graduated with a degree in African-American studies from KU last week, but his goal is to play in the pros.

Sure, there will be workouts after the bowl game. But for now, his best chance to shine will be in his final collegiate football game in Tempe, Ariz.

“It’s kind of hard leaving (Deran), you know, like when you go away for games and stuff, because you’re so used to being there with him,” Fields said. “It’s all worth it, though. I have to take care of business, so I can provide for him.”


Alan Halvorsen 11 years, 6 months ago

I don't think it is Solomon, I think Dexton is a man of the faith, and I don't see that happening in this case.

Gavin Fritton 11 years, 6 months ago

Solomon, pay attention. Maybe he doesn't love the mother of his son. I certainly don't know but, then again, it's none of my business. What I do know is that this would not be the first child born out of wedlock or born of a relationship without love if, in fact, he doesn't love his child's mother.But where you need to pay attention is that he is CLEARLY devoted to providing a two parent family for his child. he is taking care of his son, he is involved in his son's upbringing. What you WANT to hear him say is that he and the mother will get married, which is none of your business. You have made a moralistic value judgment that places the marriage of parents, even without love, as being somehow "better" than a child having two loving and caring parents who maybe aren't married to one another. And you do this despite the article making numerous references to the fact that Fields is taking responsibility for co-parenting this child and that he is working hard to get the kind of job that willallow him to be the best provider he can for his son.You should be ashamed of yourself, Solomon, acting as if the only way to be a good father is to be the kind of father YOU think someone should be and immediately assuming, despite tons of evidence to the contrary, that there is going to be a fatherless child raised by a single mother with the absent dad spreading his seed all over the world. Where do you get off judgmentally clucking over a new father's proud state simply because he chooses differently than you want him to?And, yes, I am well aware that there are lots of men out there who sire children before abandoning them and their mothers and those fathers should be ashamed of themselves for creating a societal ill. But what, in this artcile leads you to that conclusion in this situation, you scolding and superior moralizer?

nocaljayhawk 11 years, 6 months ago

Congrats, Dexton and Deran. As a dad of two young kids myself, I feel your pain, brother. But it's all worth it!

KU 11 years, 6 months ago

" scolding and superior moralizer."........Hmmmmmm? Maybe you both are?

DSommersby 11 years, 6 months ago

Best wishes to Dexton and his family. I'll never forget how Dexton waited 11 games and 59 minutes to make a season saving catch in 2005. It was also his first catch of the season and his career at KU. He secured a Brian Luke TD pass to help KU tie up Iowa State and force overtime which KU won to become bowl eligible that season. That victory was another big step up for this program which it needed to make. Dex has been a reliable pass catcher and a great down-field blocker. He has been a great asset to the program and strong team leader. I know he struggled with the injury bug this year and his numbers were down, but now I know he had some other big things happening in his life. He has finished up strong and been a solid performer for the Hawks as the season has gone on. Hope he has an amazing Insight Bowl, and great future ahead for himself and family. I am a huge fan of #88!

Ben Kliewer 11 years, 6 months ago

Ha, Brian Luke, I remember him...he wasn't a very good quarterback at all.

Alan Halvorsen 11 years, 6 months ago

But he left his mark on KU football that we will never forget. More than I can say for Barmann.Speaking of Adam, I rode on the plane back home next to a couple cats that work with the ku ticket office and are more in the know than I am for sure. They said Barmann was the cockiest (sp?) player they'd ever known which was part of his downfall. I've only heard that he a pretty nice kid and stuff but not from anyone that had any real evidence to show for it. The one thing we can agree on is that he wasn't a good quarterback and that he never really had a signature win for the program. You can make a case for USF at home. Really good defense in that game.

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