In his quest to become an even better quarterback going into his second season at Ohio State, Justin Fields has gone vegan.
Ohio State offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, whose wife is also a vegan, believes the new diet has paid dividends for the Buckeyes’ starting signal-caller.
“I think he just did it to be leaner, take care of himself and be stronger and faster, and he looks that way,” Wilson said Friday. “He’s a stronger and faster player.”
Fields had previously told reporters in August that he had “totally switched up” his diet, and Day said the same last month, but neither had specified that Fields had converted to a meatless diet, following in the footsteps of numerous NFL quarterbacks who are also vegans including Cam Newton – a quarterback who Fields looks up to and who inspired his choice to wear No. 1 – and Tom Brady.
Wilson said Ohio State has multiple players who have chosen to adopt vegan diets, and Ohio State’s nutrition staff makes special meals for them to accommodate their dietary choices.
“He made a commitment, because he wanted to be a little bit leaner, wanted to take care of himself even better, wanted to be faster, he just made a commitment to a style of diet – not that that’s the perfect diet, that was the one he wanted,” Wilson said. “What’s neat is that our nutrition people here were also able to complement, where every day even within our program, we might have steaks and chicken or whatever going on for a meal, he has the meals set for him that we’re able to provide, which I think is pretty cool. We have a couple kids that are actually doing that. That’s just how they want to eat, I think that’s awesome.”
Fields has drawn consistent praise from his coaches and teammates this offseason for his work ethic and how he has taken care of his body, including from Day, who described Fields’ offseason work as “off-the-charts.” Fields, who has expressed goals of winning the Heisman Trophy and leading Ohio State to a national championship this fall, said he has “been working like crazy this offseason.”
“Just doing the little things and kind of just doing as much as possible just to become a better player each and every day,” Fields said in August. “So I feel great right now. My body feels great. And I’m ready to go.”
Beyond Fields’ efforts to improve himself physically, though, his biggest area of improvement that’s stood out to Wilson this offseason has been his growth as a leader.
“A year ago he came in as a quarterback, but as a new guy, I don’t think he tried to force being a little bit more of a leader. Now that he’s had a great year and he has some great leadership skills, I just think he’s doing a really good job of being a little bit more of what you think that quarterback’s going to be as a strong leader,” Wilson said. “So he’s had a great offseason. It’s been a weird offseason. But it’s been great.”
“I think he just did it to be leaner, take care of himself and be stronger and faster, and he looks that way. He’s a stronger and faster player.”– Kevin Wilson on Justin Fields' switch to a vegan diet
Fifth-year senior tight ends Luke Farrell and Jake Hausmann agreed with Wilson’s assessment when they were asked about Fields on Friday.
“Definitely physically, he’s doing anything and everything he can to get better, but something else that Coach Wilson mentioned that I think I’ve noticed the most is just the leadership aspect,” Farrell said. “Obviously he was a new guy coming in last year, but he’s made huge strides in being an outspoken leader of our offense and our team, and I think that has just rallied everybody around him, even more than when he was producing on the field, what he’s doing off the field is incredible. So I think that’s just brought up everybody around him.”
Hausmann said he has seen Fields really blossom as a vocal leader over the past six months, which has helped the reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year build an even stronger rapport with his pass-catchers.
“He’s been helping us, personally, the tight ends a lot, just with routes. Like the other day, we were practicing this route with (the quarterbacks), and he literally will run the route himself to show us how he wants it run,” Hausmann said. “He’s a really hands-on guy, and he’s vocal about it. He’s giving us all these coaching points about what angle we want to break it off at, and how we’re supposed to be coming out of it.
“He’s always been a natural leader, but I think within the past six months or so, he’s been a lot more vocal and guys have been following in his lead.”