By T. Scott Boatright
It was a day — a college football game — two years in the making.
At one point, Grambling State senior graduate Danquarian Fields doubted it would ever come at all.
That’s because on Sept. 7, 2019, Fields only thought as he was being rushed into emergency surgery was to leave the hospital with both of his legs.
On the last play of the first quarter at Louisiana Tech in 2019, Fields and two others teammates combined for a tackle of Bulldog running back Israel Tucker.
Fields ended up being hit from both sides with his right leg giving way, dislocating his knee cap and leg and leaving his leg grotesquely twisted.
The play happened in front of the LA Tech bench. Bulldogs coach Skip Holtz immediately knew the severity of the injury as he jumped out on the field and looked up behind the west end zone where an ambulance was parked, frantically waving his arms for EMS personnel to rush to the injured Fields.
After he got to the hospital, doctors discovered the injury damaged a main artery, putting not only his playing future, but also simply keeping his lower leg, in jeopardy.
He was airlifted to a hospital in Shreveport, where surgeons were able to repair the artery and reestablished blood flow to prevent amputation, but the first step on a long road to recovery would include 10 surgeries over the next two years.
Those later surgeries included an ACL/MCL reconstruction, an arterial bypass where a vein was taken from his groin and put into his leg to increase blood flow, a lateral collateral ligament reconstruction, a meniscus repair and also microscopic procedures to drain fluid and remove built-up scar tissue during his recovery.
But Fields never gave up his dream of returning to the field, spending months and months rehabbing the injury and working to get back out on the gridiron.
He finally hit the playing field on Sept. 25, making one tackle for the Tigers in limited duty during a loss to Prairie View A&M at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
Then came last Sunday during the third quarter of GSU’s stunning win over top-ranked Alabama A&M, when Fields, who is now working at both defensive back and linebacker for the G-Men, was called into more extensive action for the first time since that game against LA Tech two years ago.
“We had a big lead and our linebackers coach — Coach (Terrence) Graves — told me to get ready to go in because I needed some more action,” Fields said of the moments before heading to the field against Alabama A&M. “At that moment, I was really just happy with winning. I really didn’t want to go in at that time. But another player went down with cramps, so I decided to go in. I looked back at the sideline and told another player, ‘this is going to be the time I’m going to make a big play.’ ”
The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder jumped in front of receiver waiting for an intended pass from Alabama A&M quarterback Aquiel Shields, batting the ball in the air and waiting for it to float down into his arms before returning the interception 16 yards for his first pick of the season and first since 2019.
“The only thing I was thinking about was trying to score, but I stumbled a little bit,” Fields said of his interception return. “I realized in that split second that I probably wouldn’t be able to get to the end zone.”
That didn’t take any of the meaning away from the play for Fields, who had once again faced adversity in recent days.
“It’s been a few bad months,” Fields said. “To lose five family members, and I had just lost my grandmother last Thursday, and then for me to be able to get into the game and do that, at that moment — it couldn’t have happened at a better time. I just want to thank God. Without him none of this would be possible. All the praise goes toward God, because without him I never would have had the chance to do what I really wanted to do.”
And like the injury two years ago, Fields said making the interception against Alabama A&M is a moment he’ll never forget.
“Those guys (his teammates now celebrating his pick) helped get me through the thick and thin,” Fields said. “I don’t like showing my emotions. I want to be the person for them to look up to, showing that if I’m still here they can give 110%, too. But having them celebrate with me at that moment, it was priceless.”
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