t’s time for our annual season top 10! Each summer, the staff votes on its top 10 players ahead of the upcoming season. A first place vote is worth 10 points, second place is worth nine points, and so on.
How He Got Here
Joining the Penn State program as a member of the 2017 recruiting class, cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields quickly made an impact playing in 12 of the team’s 13 games as a true freshman. After playing in all 13 games in 2018, he became a first-year starter in 2019. Although, he did play starter minutes in 2018.
Many people, myself included, expected 2019 to be the last in Happy Valley for Castro-Fields. Entering the season with high expectations, the one time four-star recruit started the season strong.
Halfway through the season, Castro-Fields looked like a potential 1st or 2nd round NFL Draft pick. Something that cornerbacks coach Terry Smith expressed in a Zoom meeting with the media last month. However, in the second half of the season Castro-Fields battled injuries and his quality of play diminished. He would especially like to forget his performances against Minnesota and Indiana.
When the season came to an end, Castro-Fields finished with 52 tackles, 3 tackles for a loss and a pair of interceptions. This included a huge interception on a busted screen play in the team’s White Out victory over Michigan. He also picked up third team All-Big Ten honors from the media.
What to Expect in 2020
During the aforementioned Zoom call with Smith, he made no bones about it, he expect big things from Castro-Fields in 2020. Both on and off the field, Smith expect Castro-Fields to be a leader for this team.
With John Reid off the the NFL, Castro-Fields will be the team’s number one cornerback and the leader of the cornerback room. While the cornerback room has plenty of young, talented players such as Keaton Ellis and Marquis Wilson, there is no doubt that Castor-Fields will be relied upon as the leader of the group this season.
If Castro-Fields stays healthy, there is zero reason to expect him to not have a strong season. Last season, he looked like an early NFL Draft pick for much of the season. But after the injury bug bit, he started to struggle. He will also be pushed by the young talent in the cornerback room, only adding even more fuel to his fire.
All of this will give him something to prove and put a chip on his shoulder as a senior this fall. Look for an all-conference type of season out of the Maryland native in 2020.