This is the fourth in a series looking at the best position tandems in the Big 12, taking into account both college production and pro potential. Today it is the best pair of defensive linemen in the Big 12.
The best: TCU
The duo: Devonte Fields and Davion Pierson
The reasoning: TCU head coach Gary Patterson knows defense, so it spoke volumes when he started a true freshman defensive end in the 2012 season opener. Devonte Fields more than lived up to expectations, leading the Big 12 in tackles for loss (18.5) and pacing the Horned Frogs' solid pass rush with 10 sacks in his first season. Now Patterson expects to unleash a stronger, faster and more mature Fields, though the reigning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year won't be available against LSU in this year's season opener because of a violation of team rules.
Fields' performance was so impressive that it overshadowed a strong campaign from defensive tackle Davion Pierson. Even at 6-foot-2 and 305 pounds, Pierson was a constant presence in opposing backfields with 7.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. His best performance came in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl against Michigan State, accounting for nine tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, one sack and one forced fumble.
Together, the disruptive Fields and Pierson were key components in the Big 12's No. 1 defense in yards allowed, and they should only get better with experience. In a conference chock full of quick-hitting spread offenses, those negative plays that Pierson and Fields create could lift TCU to a Big 12 title.
Next up in this series: Linebackers.