This week, we're featuring five Big 12 players on the spot this spring. Maybe they're coming back from injury. Maybe they have much to prove after a disappointing 2013 season. Maybe they're embroiled in a key position battle. Whatever the case, this spring is big for them.
Today’s player on the spot: TCU defensive end Devonte Fields
Fields could be at a crossroads in his Horned Frogs career. He can re-establish himself as one of the Big 12's top players or he could let some of the off-the-field distractions that have hampered his first two years continue to be an obstacle on his road to success.
He entered the 2013 season as one of the favorites to win the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honor after recording 10 sacks during a stellar freshman season. Instead, a foot injury forced him to miss the majority of the season.
This spring is Fields' chance to show he is ready to regain his freshman form. Big 12 offenses got a reprieve with Fields out of the lineup last season even though the Horned Frogs' defense remained among the conference’s top units. It was easy to forget Fields last season as the Horned Frogs defense actually recorded more sacks in 2013 (32) than in 2012 (29) and had a better sack percentage (7.2 percent) in 2013 than it did in 2012 (6.3 percent).
However, Fields is the type of special player who can take the unit to another level. His athleticism is off the charts and combines with his quickness and speed on the edge to make him arguably the Big 12’s top pass rusher. TCU needs Fields to show he’s the Fields of old and ready to be the centerpiece of its defense this fall. That would mean Fields is fully recovered, committed to the program and has returned to the good graces of head coach Gary Patterson.
Fields could be the most important Big 12 player in the spotlight this spring as few players in the entire league have the proved productivity, overall talent and potential growth that he possesses. If he's ready to pick up where he left off when he was injured, Fields can show he acquired a businesslike approach to football while on the sidelines last fall.