Penn State Football’s Tariq Castro-Fields Poised To Step Up To Starting Role Alongside John Reid At Cornerback
Despite losing first team All-Big Ten selection Amani Oruwariye to the NFL Draft, the cornerback position isn’t much of a concern for Penn State football entering the 2019 season.
Veteran John Reid will be back for his third season starting at the position after making 24 tackles and picking off two passes in 2018. He bounced back nicely from a lower body injury suffered in spring practice that cost him the entire 2017 season.
Since Oruwariye is off to the NFL, Reid’s starting partner will be different in 2019. That’s where Tariq Castro-Fields — a solid contributor off the bench last season — steps in. Although James Franklin has clearly stated his emphasis on having open competitions at every position, the second cornerback job is Castro-Fields’ to lose right now.
“He’s had such a great career,” cornerbacks coach Tim Banks said of Castro-Fields. “We’re looking for this to be his breakout year. He’ll be the full-time starter this year, and he’s worked really hard for it.”
The junior was typically the first cornerback off the bench in 2018, and he definitely made his fair share of plays. Although he didn’t get an interception, Castro-Fields broke up seven passes and recorded 32 tackles. Twenty one of his 32 stops were made on his own, and he definitely showcased his prowess as an open-field tackler many times in 2018.
Castro-Fields was also good as a freshman despite being behind guys like Oruwariye, Grant Haley, and Christian Campbell on the cornerback depth chart. His tackle output (10 stops in 12 games) wasn’t as high, but he did intercept a pass, break up four others, and force a fumble to help the Nittany Lions earn a spot in that year’s Fiesta Bowl, where they beat Washington 35-28.
As Banks recalled, the cornerback took Penn State to the “12th hour” during his recruitment. That may be a bit of an understatement, because Castro-Fields committed to and signed his letter of intent with James Franklin’s program at approximately 3:30 p.m. on national signing day in 2017.
Banks and Penn State’s recruiting staff tried to get into Castro-Fields’ high school for a last-ditch effort to secure his signature approximately a week before signing day. Banks said the school initially denied them access, but eventually let them in for just five minutes.
“All signs didn’t lend in our favor. We didn’t feel good about it, but here he is as our starting corner,” Banks recalled. “We expressed to him that we felt like he was a Penn State type of kid. He fits our culture. We don’t have to have the greatest athletes or human beings out there, but you have to fit our blue-collar culture.”
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About the Author
Nittany Lions old and new have received new jersey numbers ahead of the 2022 season.