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Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Take Two: Most impressive spring defender

By Jake Trotter and Brandon Chatmon

Devonte Fields, Shawn Oakman
TCU DE Devonte Fields returns motivated after missing most of last season with an injury and Baylor DE Shawn Oakman has been unblockable this spring, but will this excitement carry into the fall?

This week's "Take Two" topic: Which Big 12 defensive player impressed you the most this spring?

Take 1: Brandon Chatmon -- TCU DE Devonte Fields

Fields is back.

Watch out Big 12. The TCU defensive end is one of the league’s top defenders when healthy and his absence in 2013 played as big a role as any in the Horned Frogs' disappointing season. Explosive and athletic, Fields can dominate games when he’s healthy and has the right mental approach. His 10 sacks in 13 games as a freshman was a glimpse at the production he could provide this fall.

TCU loses a potential first round pick in cornerback Jason Verrett but could be gaining one in Fields, who TCU defensive coordinator Dick Bumpus said was “not only back to where he was, he’s past where he was.” If that’s the case, it’s a troubling thought for Big 12 offensive tackles.

Fields showed he has the ability to change games during his true freshman season in 2012 so if he can return to that type of form in 2014, he could spark the Horned Frogs into the Big 12 title race and put himself in the running to earn Big 12 Defensive player of the year honors.

Take 2: Jake Trotter -- Baylor DE Shawn Oakman

What Fields showed this spring was impressive, but it wasn’t really surprising. When healthy and motivated, Fields is one of the best defensive linemen in the Big 12, if not the country. This spring, Fields was healthy again after recovering from last year’s season-ending foot surgery. And, apparently, he was motivated.

That’s why I’m going with Oakman here.

Baylor coach Art Briles isn’t often prone to hyperbole. But he can't help himself when discussing Oakman or the potential of his defensive line.

“Same thing I’ve thought all spring, we can’t block him,” said Briles, when asked for his thoughts on Oakman's dominating performance in Baylor’s spring game. “And I don’t think anyone else will, either. I think our D-line is as good as anybody in America, and he’s just one out of about six or seven in there that are going to be dominant, dynamic players for us in the fall, no doubt.”

At 6-foot-9, 275 pounds, Oakman has the combination of size and speed to be as dominant as any defensive lineman in the league, which, with the likes of Fields, is saying quite a bit. If the Baylor offense had problems with Oakman this spring, what offense won’t next season?

We already knew Fields had star potential. The same goes for Oklahoma outside linebacker Eric Striker, Kansas State defensive end Ryan Mueller and Texas defensive end Cedric Reed.

After a dominating spring, it appears that Oakman does, too.

And that’s why, to me, he was most impressive.