New HU assistant has 'unbelievable heart'
The Pirates' recruiting coordinator brings valuable contacts and a hero's story.
On Dec. 6, Stephen Field, then in his second season as a graduate assistant at the University of Miami, was driving near a busy interchange with I-95 when he saw a car smashed into a tree. He broke the car's windshield with a hammer and pulled the driver, a man whose identity was not released, free of the smoking car.
"There were, like, 1,000 articles, and that's what they said," said Field, who didn't want to say much else about the rescue.
Clint Hurtt, the Hurricanes' defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator, wasn't as reticent.
"It didn't surprise me. That's the kind of heart he has," Hurtt said. "When Coach Field first got the GA job down here in Miami, he didn't have a place to stay, so I let him come stay with me. He's a great person, a great guy with an unbelievable heart. ... He's the kind of person, if you call him at 2 o'clock in the morning and you have an issue, he's going to roll right out of bed to do whatever he can to help you out."
While he hasn't saved any lives at Hampton, Field's two weeks there have been adventurous. Hired by former Pirates coach Jerry Holmes as HU's running-backs coach, Field barely had begun unpacking when Holmes was dismissed by the school on Jan. 26.
Donovan Rose, an 18-year assistant promoted from defensive coordinator to head coach, never questioned keeping Field on staff. In fact, he decided to add recruiting coordinator to Field's title.
"I would get in here sometimes close to 8, and he'd be the only one in here," Rose said. "I'd say, 'Wow, what time you'd get here?' He'd say, 'Oh, 6:30.' He puts the time in. He's a hard-working guy."
Field, 30, who also worked with the defensive line at Miami, previously coached at four South Florida high schools, including a stint as running-game coordinator at Glades Central, the 2006 3A state champions.
"He has contacts with arguably the most fertile recruiting soil in the country," Hurtt said. "It's definitely going to help him out. He's very organized. He has great relationships with the high school coaches and the administrators down there in the South Florida area."
But there are unique challenges that come with leading a school's recruiting efforts, Hurtt said.
"He has to identify as early as possible what's going to be the deciding factor, what is the most important thing to the student-athlete and to the family in terms of what's going to help them make their decision," Hurtt said. "Now, you don't worry about that kind of stuff. You just write letters and you call your local high school buddies and things like that, but you don't get the insight into what's going to help make that final decision."
Adding to the challenge at Hampton will be reassuring recruits that a program that now has had two head coaches in as many seasons (longtime coach Joe Taylor left after the 2007 season to coach at Florida A&M) also has stability.
"You have to understand the president ( William Harvey) has made a decision and the athletic director (Lonza Hardy) has made a decision to move on to a different coach, and everybody supports that decision," Field said. "We coach for Hampton University, and when you're coaching for the pride and tradition of the university, you go to work and you do the best that you can do for the university, and you support your head coach.
"When I was here (earlier), 100 percent I supported Coach Holmes, an outstanding person. But our new head coach is Coach Rose. All the coaches on staff fully support him. We fully support the administration, and we're happy to get this thing going."
Rose said he's met with recruits and their families since becoming head coach and that no player he talked with lost interest in Hampton because of the coaching transition.
"Parents said they were impressed, (saying) it didn't look like you've been here for three days," Rose said. "... When I was talking to them, I wasn't reading anything from a card or a book. I was talking from experience, and I think I kind of sold them what Hampton has to offer."
That now includes an assistant coach who's an actual lifesaver.
"I'm just excited about being here," Field said. "I'm amazed at how close-knit the Hampton family is on campus. It's a great environment.
"... It's a fast transition, but it's a very good transition. There's really no other place I'd rather be."