Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald announced Thursday that sophomore running back Arby Fields is leaving the team and transferring.
"We're disappointed that Arby has made the decision to leave Northwestern," Fitzgerald said in a statement. "He is an outstanding young man and we wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors."
Fitzgerald was not available for more comments, as he is on the road recruiting, a team spokesperson said. Fields' teammates were also not available for comment due to reading week for final exams.
Fields, an Alta Loma, Calif. native, played two seasons for the Wildcats and rushed for 480 yards in 23 games with six touchdowns. Fields also had 21 receptions. He rushed for a career-high 96 yards against Illinois State on Sept. 11, a 37-3 victory at Ryan Field. He was also the team's leading rusher in 2009 with 302 yards and five touchdowns.
Fields, also a centerfielder for the Wildcats baseball team, hit .292 last spring during his freshman campaign with 27 RBI and eight stolen bases.
A team spokesperson said he is not sure if Fields will play both baseball and football at his new school, but that Fields is going to leave after the NU quarter ends next week and will try to enroll in a new school by January.
The spokesperson also said that Fields met with Fitzgerald on Sunday to tell him he wanted to transfer, and met with more officials from the program Wednesday to finalize his decision.
Fields was one of three running backs starting for the Wildcats for the first month of the season. He was hopefully going to be the headliner in a running game that Fitzgerald had high hopes for since training camp began in August.
Fields suffered a setback in training camp when he injured his left shoulder at Camp Kenosha, but was able to play in the Wildcats' season opener at Vanderbilt. After the ISU victory, Fields' output dropped off and he was benched for the Purdue game Oct. 6, a 20-17 loss at Ryan Field.
After Fields stopped seeing playing time, Fitzgerald went with the running back tandem of Jacob Schmidt and redshirt freshman Mike Trumpy, a local prodcut from Wheaton North. Schmidt, though, injured his ankle in the Wildcats' 35-27 loss to Michigan State and has since been unable to play.
Trumpy picked up the slack, but he suffered a non-surgical fracture in his right wrist in the first quarter against Illinois on Nov. 20 at Wrigley Field, a 48-27 Wildcat loss. Trumpy did not play in the Wildcats' 70-23 loss at Wisconsin last week, and it is unknown whether or not Trumpy will be available for the Wildcats' as-yet-to-be-determined bowl game which will be announced on Sunday.
NU has had luck keeping its players in Evanston, with only two players in the past 10 years having transferred. Thomas Bemenderfer was an offensive lineman from Mishawaka, Ind. who left the program to attend Notre Dame in 2006. Tony Stauss was a pro-style quarterback from Racine, Wis., who transferred to North Dakota State in 2003 after the Wildcats started running a spread offense.