While his former high school teammate, Myles Garrett, stood at a podium garnering all the attention at the NFL Scouting Combine, Devonte Fields sat at a table with only a couple reporters.
Teammates at Arlington Martin, Garrett and Fields went separate ways in college.
The Cleveland Browns are expected to make Garrett, the gregarious Texas A&M star, the No. 1 overall choice in April. The Louisville linebacker plans on celebrating with Garrett in Arlington on draft day, hoping he hears his name called two days later.
I don’t know what round I’ll go. I just really want a chance. Once I get that chance, I’m going to make the best out of it.
“He taught me most of what I know back in high school,” Garrett said of Fields. “He’s got the skill; he’s got the technique. I hope somebody takes a chance on him.”
Fields once appeared on track to end up where Garrett now stands. But Fields’ career was filled with potholes, wrong turns and unexpected delays.
NFL teams now have more questions than answers about Fields, who measured 6-foot-2, weighed 236 pounds, ran a 4.72 in the 40, had a 34-inch vertical jump and opted not to bench at the combine.
“While he offers raw pass rush potential as a pro prospect, a leopard doesn’t change his spots, and Fields has the off-field baggage and inconsistent drive that creates doubt, projecting as a possible late-round draft pick,” CBS Sportsline draft analyst Dane Brugler said.
Fields has answered questions about his past all weekend. He insists he has changed since being dismissed from TCU in 2014 after allegations of domestic violence.
“I don’t have a standard answer, but it’s a lesson learned,” Fields said. “I was young and dumb at the time. I moved on, grew up and matured a whole lot ever since then. That’s what I tell [NFL teams].”
Devonte Fields recorded 10 sacks for TCU in 2012 and was named AP Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
Fields was accused of pointing a gun at his former girlfriend and punching her. She later recanted the gun allegation, and Fields insists “there was no gun.”
The case was dismissed after he completed anger management courses but not before TCU severed ties.
“When it happened, of course, I was down a little bit, but I also was determined that I couldn’t let that end my career of football because that’s all I like to do is play football,” Fields said. “I’ve been playing since I was a young kid. So I was just pretty much determined to get back to where I was.”
Fields had 10 sacks for the Horned Frogs in 2012, only one less than Garrett did as a freshman at A&M in 2014, and had 18 tackles for loss. Fields earned Big 12 defensive player of the year honors from the Associated Press and Big 12 defensive freshman of the year honors from the coaches.
He was the Big 12 preseason player of the year in 2013 but was suspended for one game that season and played in only three because of a season-ending foot injury.
Fields played one season at Trinity Valley Community College, where he had 61 tackles and 6.5 sacks in resurrecting his career, and he finished with two seasons starting at Louisville.
Fields likely would have gone higher in the draft after his 2015 season when he had 22 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. He created more questions with a so-so final season with only nine tackles for loss and six sacks.
“I could have done a lot better than I did, but also people weren’t coming at me, so I just made the plays that I was supposed to make pretty much,” Fields said.
Fields will have a long wait after celebrating Garrett’s likely selection as the first player from Tarrant County and the first Aggie to go No. 1 overall. Fields knows there’s a chance he might not hear his name at all.
“I don’t know what round I’ll go,” Fields said. “I just really want a chance. Once I get that chance, I’m going to make the best out of it.”