Earlier this year it was reported that Elijah Fields would be moving to linebacker. While that may have been the case, I always felt that his role would be like we saw towards the end of the season. We used him primarily in nickel situations where he would line up in different spots around the field. Having him as a linebacker in our system this year probably wouldn't have changed what we saw last year much other than defining it as 4-3 instead of a nickel.
Well now it appears that all of this does not matter one bit. After struggling to make his way on campus due to grades, Elijah has had a rough time at Pitt. The most notable problem came when he was suspended for an entire season due to failing a drug test. He was expected to be a major contributor and people were even labeling him as the "Shady of the defense" during pre-season practices.
Now as we sit through cold winter months waiting for something to talk about, this is the time we typically hate having things to discuss. Just like last year with the Adam Gunn and Jonathan Baldwin incidents, off-season news typically is bad news. While the Big 10 talk and hiring of two new coaches have kept us busy for a little while, we finally have some of the news we hate to get.
From sources close to the team as well as reports from both PantherDigest and PantherLair, it looks as if Elijah Fields has once again failed a drug test. Coach Wannstedt has had Fields on a short leash since the problems first arose a few years ago. Now with a second violation it appears his days wearing #4 for the Panthers are over. This is a sad end to what looked to be a very promising career.
Now the Panthers will look to fill the hole left created in that area. With some combination of Holley, Tags and DiCicco set to return as our starting safetys, those positions are fine. At linebacker Williams and Gruder return on the outside and Dan Mason is ready to fill the void left by the graduation of Adam Gunn. So while losing Fields certainly hurts, at this point we look to be replacing depth only on paper.
Hopefully this works out best for all parties. As we saw last year, this isn't the worst thing in the world as people have left and succeeded. Jason Capizzi and Tommie Duhart are two examples that come to mind. In the end Pitt opens up another spot to let someone earn a chance and Elijah will have the chance to prove himself in a new environment.