The TCU Horned Frogs had some hiccups in their first season as a full-fledged member of the Big 12, and circumstances forced head coach Gary Patterson to start more freshman last fall than he has in any season of his career. While that didn’t always translate to wins in 2012, it showed a glimpse of what’s to come in Fort Worth, and in some cases what has already arrived. Defensive end Devonte Fields had a breakout freshman season, but how good can he become?
Fields wasted no time in making an impact last fall, forcing his way into the starting lineup after getting to campus last August. He started every game last season, finishing No. 7 on the team in tackles with 53, while leading the team in both tackles for loss (18.5) and sacks (10). He was a force of nature for opposing offenses, consistently wreaking havoc in the backfield and earned himself the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
That would be a career year for anyone, but it was just the beginning for Fields and the Horned Frogs. Patterson has been watching his gifted young star closely this offseason to try and make sure complacency doesn’t set in. The coach knows that Fields’ monster year in 2012 will only make him a target in 2013 for offensive coordinators to take out of games. Whether it be with double teams, crack-back blocks or rolling plays away from him, Fields has to come hard next fall to repeat his success.
If he continues to put in the work in the weight room and on the practice field, Fields has the potential to be a defensive star in college football, along the same lines as Jadeveon Clowney with the South Carolina Gamecocks. His ability to destroy offensive gameplans with his backfield disruption could make him the next marquee defensive star in college football and take TCU to the top of the Big 12.