When former TCU star defensive end Devonte Fields was dismissed from the school after allegedly punching his girlfriend, he put plenty of distance between himself and a possible NFL future. But the domestic violence case of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, which has focused national attention on the NFL's handling of such matters, has added more distance, Fields believes.
After his dismissal, Fields, the 2012 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, attempted to transfer to Stephen F. Austin, but could not acquire a necessary waiver, and ultimately enrolled at Trinity Valley Community College. According to TVCC coach Brad Smiley, Fields intends to transfer back into FBS college football next year, although he could declare draft eligibility as early as next year. Fields told SI he is still undecided on his future plans. He had 10 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss as a Horned Frogs freshman in 2012, but missed most of 2013 with an injury. The incident that led to his dismissal from TCU occurred in July.
According to SI, Fields played lazy football Saturday for TVCC, jogging on many plays. The report also cited an NFL scout who suggested Fields might not be drafted at all, and questioned whether the case could even affect Fields' chances of receiving an invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine in February.
"That is a very, very good question," said former Syracuse quarterback Don McPherson, who is an advocate for domestic violence prevention. "I think it's going to be really tough for those guys, quite frankly. It's such an unpredictable offense. You can test a guy for drugs or find out what's going on in past. He can take the Wonderlic. He can get a physical. When it comes to violence against women, across the board, there really is no predictor."
According to Smiley, schools from each of the "Power 5" conferences in college football have shown interest in signing Fields for 2015, and the report noted that Arkansas State assistant coach Trooper Taylor was in attendance at the TVCC game Saturday.
More than likely, Fields will get another chance to play football on a bigger college stage next season. But parlaying that opportunity into an eventual place in the NFL draft will be a much more challenging task.