Devonte Fields took college football by storm in 2012 as a freshman defensive end, recording 53 tackles, including 18.5 tackles for loss, and 10 sacks. For his efforts, he was named the Big 12 AP Defensive Player of the Year and appeared poised to wreak havoc on the Big 12 for years to come. But 2013 was filled with frustration and disappointment for Fields and the TCU Horned Frogs which has the talented defensive end hungry for redemption in 2014.
The season got off to a rough start for Fields after he was suspended for the season opener against the LSU Tigers for an off-field incident. When he returned to the field, a foot injury slowed him down before ultimately shutting him down completely after just three games. He finished the year with just four tackles and two tackles for loss before getting put on the shelf and TCU limped to a 4-8 finish to the 2013 season.
This spring, Fields returned to the field with a clean bill of health and showed the tenacity and athleticism that made him a phenomenon as a freshman. As he became more comfortable on the field as the spring session wore on, he only got better and better and emerged as a defensive leader for this Horned Frogs team heading into next fall.
That’s good news for Gary Patterson and the TCU defense. While the team finished third in the Big 12 in sacks last season, they didn’t have anyone who recorded more than five sacks all of last season. While they were able to get things done with a cumulative team effort, having a monster like Fields coming off the edge with the potential to get double-digit sacks will only make the pass rush that much more dangerous and open up more one-on-one opportunities for the other defenders to get to the quarterback.
If Fields can stay healthy in 2014, he’s poised to return to the form that put him on the map as a freshman in 2012. With the added experience of being a junior and a defensive leader of the team, he could emerge as one of the best defensive players in college football this season.