About 20 minutes after Georgia Southern had pulled off quite possibly the biggest upset in program history, an exhausted Wesley Fields sat in the seats in the press room.
The senior running back had just defeated Appalachian State for the first time in his storied career. Under movie-like playing conditions, a team that mustered up just two wins a year before took down an AP ranked team for the first time in program history.
Fields rushed for 99 yards and two touchdowns in his final outing against the Mountaineers and was gleaming when he took a seat for the press.
“Any given day, any team can win,” Fields said. “It’s about who wanted it more and we wanted it more tonight.”
The mentality Fields played with against ASU was the same heart he played with since his freshman year, breaking out in the Eagles’ first bowl game against Bowling Green.
Since that 75 yard, one touchdown performance against the Falcons to cap his first season as an Eagle, Fields went from being a backup to being the go-to back.
And he approached the senior leader role with ease. Playing in 12 of the Eagles’ 13 games, Fields rushed on 200 attempts, averaging nearly 88 yards per game.
But it was in the biggest moments, like against No. 25 ASU, that the 6-foot running back from Americus, Georgia shined the brightest.
In the momentous win against Sun Belt favorite Arkansas State, Fields went for 159 yards and a receiving touchdown. He had his performance against ASU and then against Troy on Senior Day, the senior went for 155 total yards.
“Coming in my freshman year, just seeing all the older heads working and knowing about the winning tradition and just being a part of a winning program and then the two years being on the downhill and this year we’re just trying to turn it around,” Fields said after the victory against ASU, fighting back emotions.
It wasn’t until his final rivalry game in his career that Fields put on full display his talent and pride for his program.
With the victory against Georgia State all but locked up, another first for the senior class, Fields took one more opportunity to showcase his ability.
Fields took the handoff from Shai Werts with just under eight minutes left and cut up field for what looked like a simple 15 yard gain. But it wasn’t a routine carry. It was his last regular season game.
Breaking past the scrum and into an empty field, Fields headed for the endzone. With one man to beat, Fields cut back and waltzed in for what would in hindsight be his final score as an Eagle.
“When you’ve got them, just continue to put your foot on their throat,” Fields said regarding the 63-yard touchdown run. “Just continue to keep driving and going at them. Don’t let up. I had that mentality and I had to get into the endzone.”
On a cool, rainy night in Montgomery, covered in confetti, Sean Freeman crouched down to soak up the moment. A year after a two win season, the Eagles had just earned their second bowl win in program history by way of a last second field goal over Eastern Michigan.
The senior safety embraced his teammates and family before running up on the stage to help first-year Head Coach Chad Lunsford hoist the Camellia Bowl trophy.
After the trophy was raised, pictures were taken and ESPN had cut away from the 2018 GS season, Freeman and the rest of his teammates reconvened with family, fans and media on the field of the historic Cramton Bowl.
Freeman posed for pictures with Eagle Nation and couldn’t stop jumping, overcome with emotion.
“I’m ecstatic man,” Freeman said. “It’s a blessing to be a champion.”
The JUCO product had just ended his three year career with the Eagles. With a five tackle performance against EMU, Freeman was done with college football.
Freeman’s college career was unconventional after he was a standout at Peach County High School, he played for Eastern Arizona Junior College for a season.
Freeman totaled 55 tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery in his time with the Eastern Arizona Monsters. The success out west earned him a scholarship offer and a spot on the GS roster, with the Eagles coming off of their first bowl victory.
Three seasons later and Freeman was a part of the bowl-winning team.
The 6-foot safety wasn’t the leading tackler on the team or in the secondary, but his leadership was prevalent throughout the season—on and off the field.
After the Texas State game, Freeman was sidelined for three games with a leg injury. The senior had to miss the bowl-clinching victory against New Mexico State, the upset of No. 25 ASU and the letdown loss at Louisiana-Monroe.
Freeman was on the sidelines for all three games, talking to his fellow defensemen when they came off the field.
His first game back was his senior day against Troy, where he registered a season high six tackles in the loss to the Trojans.
Three games after the third loss of the season, Freeman was dancing around for the bowl celebration.
“We had to keep our composure, that was the big thing,” Freeman said in reference to the three game win streak. “Just keep playing football.”
Since the confetti was brushed away, postseason awards were distributed, and the spring football rosters have been updated, Freeman has signed with Crown Endeavors Sports Agency ahead of the NFL Draft.
Along with Fields, Freeman will go through GS Pro Day and then likely vie for a roster spot with an NFL team in the nearing months as an undrafted free agent. Or perhaps they’ll join former Eagles Montay Crockett and Younghoe Koo and sign with an AAF team.
Regardless, Freeman is proud of the work he and the 2018 senior class did for the GS program.
“I came here in 2016 did three years from JUCO and I’m just so proud to be here. I’m glad I chose Georgia Southern,” Freeman said. “I know I keep using blessing, but I am so blessed. I’m glad we came out here and won 10 games. I’m glad to leave a champion after going 5-7 and 2-10. I’m thankful for Coach Lunsford and I’m thankful for Eagle Nation.”