Mom says Fields 'in a good place' at U of L

Former Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Devonte Fields is getting a second chance at the University of Louisville and his mother says there "couldn't be a better place" for her son to continue his career. Fields will sign with the Cardinals tomorrow on National Signing Day.

A single mother of a talented football prospect who had long been tagged as the next "potential big thing" in Fort Worth, Tx., Monica Fields said her family wasn't ready for football - and the stardom that came with it - to take over their lives.

But it all happened so fast for Devonte Fields.

After a stellar career at Arlington Martin High School, Devonte Fields was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year after his freshman season at TCU. It was then Monica Fields said she reminded her 6-foot-4, 250-pound son that he was the first member of the family to "get into the limelight" and he needed to view the big picture.

"I'm about academics," Monica Fields said. "I reminded him and tried to make him see the things that we taught him when he was younger were still important."

Monica Fields said her son had all his dreams "snatched away" from him when he was dismissed from TCU last August after being charged with misdemeanor assault in July, stemming from allegations he threatened and hit his ex-girlfriend.

The legal process has yet to be resolved and the Fields family can't comment on anything related to the case at this time.

"He learned a lesson and now he's dealing with the situation," Fields said. "I can't go into details about it but we are still in communication with the young lady. They're both in good places right now. It's not what everybody portrays it to be."

The good place for her son, Monica Fields said, is "doing a program that is going to help him make better decisions" in his life.

Devonte Fields is also getting a second chance on the football field. After being dismissed from TCU, Fields spent a season at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Tx., and was recruited again by a host of Division I schools.

On Wednesday, Fields will sign with the University of Louisville. He visited U of L last weekend and Monica Fields said with the situation there's "no places I'd rather him be."

"I wouldn't want him in the hands of anybody else other than the coaches at Louisville," she said. "I know he's going to be in a good place on and off the field, in the classroom and when he's with the team. He's going to a good place."

Fields, who is a major in communications, would only say he felt U of L was "a perfect fit" for him on the field. He's had other Division I schools calling even after his commitment was made public on Sunday, according to his mother. The most recent contact and offer came earlier this week from Alabama.

But Monica Fields said because of "everything he has been through," the family is happy he's headed to U of L to play for Bobby Petrino and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.

Fields himself said the opportunity at U of L is a "great opportunity," while several of his former coaches believe he understands this is a "really good thing."

"He understands the opportunity he's been given," Trinity Valley head coach Brad Smiley said. "He gets it. He knows where he wants to go too and he understands and is thankful and appreciative of the opportunity. He has goals set.

"Throughout this process, I heard from several NFL teams asking if he was going to come out. But he told me he wanted to make amends. He wanted to go to a four-year school, graduate and get his degree and then go to the NFL."

An Under Armour All-American out of high school, Smiley said he investigated the legal situation before accepting Fields into Trinity Valley. Trinity Valley defensive coordinator Will Reed spent a lot of time with Fields and "really got to know him."

"He is a humble kid," Reed said. "It's not our first time taking a transfer from somewhere and most of the time those transfers we have gotten are pretty good citizens, but a couple of times you could almost understand why they weren't given a second chance (at their previous school). With Devonte it was just the opposite.

"Everything that you saw or heard from him or watched him do, his actions around his team, or on the field if you corrected him. There was nothing. There was no arguments, there was nothing and eventually it got to the point like, 'Hey, this is a really good guy'."

Reed said he "never asked about the incident," until towards the end of the fall semester when he started getting questions from college recruiters. The Trinity Valley coaches said they fielded all kinds of calls about Fields, including from college and pro teams.

"Once I got the full story, I said No. 1 that is nothing like what was written but No. 2 I don't understand how anybody could believe you are the aggressor in this whole deal," Reed said. "Obviously, in football there is a lot of testosterone and egos and me, me, me kind of stuff but you never saw that from him.

"The negatives you had heard, to me it didn't make sense. I saw this guy on a daily basis with a smile on his face. I don't think I have seen very many times with a frown on his face. He's just that kind of kid. He wasn't the prototypical Division I transfer."

Smiley said he has a few guys each season that arrive from a Division I program and said he always sits those guys down and explains the guidelines.

"Never had a problem," Smiley said of Fields.

"He's kind of a quiet guy but he would certainly lead by his actions and the way he carries himself and treats people," Smiley said. "He was a consummate professional with us and always had a smile on his face. We didn't have a problem with Devonte."

On the football field, Fields is a "freak athlete," according to Smiley. He's ranked as the No 2 junior-college prospect in the country by Scout.com.

"I don't want to say he's a once-in-a-lifetime guy," Reed said. "But after maybe one day, certainly two days you look and him and go, 'Whoa, we don't have a guy who can do that.' You automatically see his athletic ability and understand why he was able to be the Defensive Player of the Year in the Big 12 as a freshman."

Fields picked TCU over Oklahoma, Michigan and Tennessee out of high school.

As a freshman, Fields was selected as the AP Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and Defensive Newcomer of the Year. He was voted by conference coaches as the Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year and landed on both of the first teams for All-Big 12 and AP All-Big 12 and was a consensus Freshman All-American and named the Defensive Freshman of the Year by CollegeFootballNews.com.

Fields started all 13 games and finished with 53 tackles, including 34 solo tackles, and led the team with 18.5 tackles for a loss and 10 sacks.

"He is the perfect type of player who you can line up on the edge and allow him to pin his ears back and get after the quarterback," the Scout.com evaluation says. "He forces the action and makes a lot of plays. He is as fast as the ball carriers he is chasing and at this level at times even faster. He has two years of eligibility remaining."

As a sophomore, Fields was limited to 3 games because of injury in 2013. After the setback off of the field, Fields and the Horned Frogs parted ways. He wanted to attends Stephen F. Austin - an FCS school - and then enter the NFL Draft but that was blocked by TCU.

"He wasn't all perky at first," Monica Fields said. "But he understood what he was going to have to do and what he needed to do. He's done that."

Smiley said Fields was "always appreciative" of his former coaches at TCU and even the guys at Stephen F. Austin, where he was headed until TCU blocked that move. He played his high school football at Arlington Martin High School in Fort Worth, Texas.

"He's had nothing but good things to say about everyone who has been a part of his football life," Smiley said. "I researched very thoroughly his background when he was coming into this program. I talked to his high school coaches, I talked to the coaches at TCU and Stephen F. Everybody who has come in contact with him had nothing but good things to say about him.

"Every single person I talked to thought he was a good kid."

In his one season at Trinity Valley, Fields was credited with 61 tackles, 6.5 sacks, six tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and seven tipped passes.

The two JUCO coaches said he didn't come to Trinity Valley in the best of shape but Smiley said it "didn't take long for him to start slinging offensive linemen around." Fields had surgery on his foot and missed the 2013 season at TCU but never showed any problems with the injury this season.

"He reminded me of an NFL guy," Reed said. "We thought we might have to water things down for him, but in fact he really picked things up quickly. Once he realized, 'Oh, that's what we called whatever it was at TCU, then he knew what to do. He was a quick learner."

"Honestly, going into every ball game we knew that the other team had to know where he was an account for him on every play," Smiley said. "You can always tell when you are in a game where the opposing offense has their eyes and calls. There's no question they were always aware of where Devonte was on the field, every play

"The thing that was just so impressive with Devonte was there's no ego. He's just a hard worker. He's a kid who just loves being part of a team, going to school and playing ball. All he wanted to do was get back to doing what he wanted to do, go to school, play ball."

Smiley said U of L was not only a "great fit" on the field for Fields but also in another way, noting "we know he looks good in red and white because that's what we wear and his mother already has gear that has 'Cardinals' on it."

And his mother said she's been all smiles since he committed. Fields said Grantham, who coached one of her sons "favorite players" Demarcus Ware with the Dallas Cowboys.

"Devonte thinks he's the mini D-Ware," the mother laughed. "He met him at a 7-on-7 tournament in high school. He's one of his favorite players and to be going into the hands of the gentleman who coached one of his favorite players is great.

"He couldn't be going to be a better place."


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