Ranking the Big 12's top 25 players: No. 6

We’re continuing our countdown of the Big 12's top 25 players from the 2012 season. Here's more on my criteria for the list. You can take a peek at how the preseason list looked here.

We're in the top 10 now, so it's about to get heated, I'm sure. If you've got complaints, I've got a mailbag. Let's hear it.

The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing one player a day moving forward.

On with the show ...

No. 6: Devonte Fields, DE, TCU

2012 numbers: Made 53 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. Also had an interception, forced three fumbles and broke up four passes.

Most recent ranking: Fields was unranked in our preseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Fields: You always hear about blessings in disguise, but sometimes it's hard to believe it's not just people spinning a bad situation. Fields may never have made this big of a splash if starter Ross Forrest hadn't suffered a shoulder injury in fall camp that sidelined him for the year. He moved to role of coach, and with the weight of heightened responsibility upon him, the freshman from Arlington, Texas, answered in a big way. He broke out with 8.5 tackles for loss in his first four games and despite being a true freshman who showed up on campus in the summer, he won the Big 12's Defensive Player of the Year honors from the media. His 10 sacks were third most in the Big 12, but his 18.5 tackles for loss led the league, two more than any other player. Without time to truly understand the defense or build his body through an offseason program, he made a huge impact and set the stage for what could be a special career. He'll build on his 240-pound frame throughout his career and he'll perfect his raw technique, too. Keep an eye on him over the next couple years before he leaves to become a top-five pick in the NFL draft.

The rest of the list: