Devonte Fields is without a doubt one of the best defensive ends in the country. As a freshman last season, he racked up 10 sacks, 53 tackles and was named the AP's Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
His prowess on the field alone is why TCU Horned Frogs head coach Gary Patterson should start Fields.
It's been circulating that Fields, despite being suspended for the first two games for violating team rules, will be suited up for the team's opener against the LSU Tigers, according to Matt Jennings of TCU 360. According to Jennings, Patterson said that Fields is a "game time" decision for Saturday's game. Much of the speculation comes from TCU's updated depth chart, which lists Fields as a starter at defensive end.
Should Devonte Fields start against LSU, and if so, why?
In Jennings' report, Patterson states that the primary purpose of Fields' suspension has already been served.
“The deal with Devonte is a three month ordeal where he’s already been embarrassed,” Patterson said. “He’s already done everything the university has asked him to do.”
Obviously, the on-field talent that Fields brings to the table is a clear reason to start him. But there are other reasons why Fields should take the field on Saturday against the Tigers.
For starters, Patterson clearly indicated that Fields has been embarrassed over the past three months, when he was originally suspended. Fields didn't get to represent his team at Big 12 Media Days despite being one of its stars and has been subjected to intense scrutiny.
Fields has served his punishment. A summer of criticism from the media is enough for a guy who clearly proved that he was mature enough to start for a Big 12 team in 2012, despite being just a freshman.
Secondly, if Jeremy Hill, the Tigers running back who became infamous for a video that showed him fighting, is still allowed to even be on a college football team, than Fields should be allowed to play against LSU.
The video of Hill shows the running back sucker-punching someone from behind outside a bar. That ended with Hill pleading guilty to misdemeanor battery, according to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN). What's even more disturbing about Hill's case is that the battery was a violation of his probation, which was his punishment from having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old in high school, per CBS 9 WAFB.
So not only does Hill use his strength to attack others, but he has had sex with women below the age of consent.
Hill doesn't deserve to have the privilege of playing college football. Yet LSU head coach Les Miles hasn't even indicated whether or not Hill will miss time, per the AP report.
If Hill can play, than Fields should be able to as well.
Ultimately, Fields is a player who has done everything right since making whatever undisclosed mistake he made a few months ago. He's remained quiet about the reason and hasn't gotten in any trouble since.
Patterson should give Fields a chance to start against the Tigers.