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Penn State Preseason Top 10: No. 5 Tariq Castro-Fields

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Yet another defensive standout enters our list as the cornerback anchors a back seven with plenty of talent, and loads to prove

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Penn State Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time for our annual preseason top 10! Each summer, the staff votes on its top 10 players ahead of the upcoming season. A 1st place vote is worth 10 points, second place is worth nine points, and so on. Last week, we began the countdown with Sean Clifford and Blake Gillikin tied for tenth, Steven Gonzalez at ninth, John Reid at eighth, and Robert Windsor and Cam Brown tied for sixth; full voting results will be published at a later date.

How He Got Here

It seems like just yesterday that Tariq Castro-Fields made a game-time decision and picked Penn State over his hometown Terrapins on stage on signing day. When TCF made the call, he was a consensus four-star recruit, the biggest piece left in play for the Nittany Lions on signing day 2017, and Maryland was the odds-on favorite to win the services of the standout.

Fast forward two plus years, and TCF has made his impact on the field noticeable. Overshadowed in his class by fellow defensive back (and five-star) Lamont Wade, TCF was instead the more immediate consistent player of the two, and saw time in over half the team’s games as a true freshman, mostly running on as a nickel in true passing downs, and being named an honorable mention on the conference’s All-Freshman team.

His sophomore year, though, saw TCF play in every game of the season (with three starts) and become a true force in the backfield. He finished the year with 32 tackles, second for cornerbacks only behind Amani Oruwariye, and was used in the blitzing game as well.

What To Expect In 2019

With Oruwariye set to make the Detroit Lions’ 53-man roster, TCF may have less name recognition than fellow cornerback John Reid, but he’s proven more consistent since Reid’s return from injury. He’ll help anchor a defensive backfield that likely won’t rack up gaudy numbers, with the front seven’s expected dominance, but will help lock down opposing offenses.

As a true junior, and jersey #5 to go with his ranking in our countdown, TCF will make strides this year - and as with any great defensive back, the lack of his name being called will be the key indicator of his effectiveness.