The top 25 players in the Big 12: No. 3

We're counting down to the beginning of the season with the top 25 players in the Big 12. The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing players from the bottom of the list all the way to No. 1.

Here's more on my criteria.

Let's move on with the list:

No. 3: Devonte Fields, DE, TCU

2012 numbers: Had 18.5 tackles for loss among his 53 total stops. Made 10 sacks and broke up four passes. Forced two fumbles and intercepted a pass.

Most recent ranking: Fields was No. 6 in our postseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Fields: There was a minor sense of panic when a knee injury in preseason camp meant TCU's top pass rusher a year ago, Ross Forrest, wouldn't be available in 2013. Who knew that injury would clear the path for Fields to become the Big 12's Defensive Player of the Year?

Even the most optimistic of Frogs fans couldn't see that coming. Midway through October, Fields had 14 tackles for loss and was way out in front in the race for the defensive title. He slowed late in the season, but we're talking about a true freshman. He went through his first spring practice and offseason condition program this year and after spending a year in the Big 12, we'll see exactly what he learned and how he grew on the field this fall. The only negative? We'll have to wait until Game 3 because of a suspension. Still, Fields is one of the best defenders in the Big 12 for what should be one of the league's defenses. He's obviously one of the favorites for Defensive Player of the Year again in 2013.

The rest of the list: