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After injury-plagued 2020 season, veteran Penn State cornerback says he'll return for 2021

PARTH UPADHYAYA
Centre Daily Times (TNS)
Penn State cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields (5) during an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa., on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)

Penn State senior cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields will return for the 2021 season, he announced via Twitter on Saturday night.

"Where the heart is willing, it will find a thousand ways," Castro-Fields wrote.

The 6-foot, 191-pound Upper Marlboro, Maryland, native played in only three of the Nittany Lions' nine games this season before being sidelined with an undisclosed injury. He finished the 2020 season with 12 total tackles and one pass defended.

Even though he played less than half of the season, Castro-Fields was given an honorable mention for All-Big Ten teams by the conference's coaches and the media.

In his four-year career so far, Castro-Fields has 106 total tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, one sack, three interceptions, 19 passes defended and one forced fumble through 34 games played.

Tariq Castro-Fields

Castro-Fields was expected to have a sizable impact for Penn State's secondary this season and last, but he was hampered with injuries both seasons. Now — with his return made possible by the NCAA's blanket eligibility waiver, allowing fall sport athletes this season to retain an extra year of eligibility — he should be expected to have an All-Big Ten-caliber season this fall.

The Nittany Lions are still waiting for announcements from senior safeties Jaquan Brisker and Lamont Wade on their decisions.

If Brisker and Wade choose not to use their extra year of eligibility, Penn State will have to turn to Castro-Fields along with a handful of less-experienced players to replace production in its secondary. Redshirt junior safety Jonathan Sutherland and junior safety Ji'Ayir Brown were solid as reserves this season, while sophomore cornerback Keaton Ellis and redshirt freshman cornerback Joey Porter Jr. both showed flashes of dominance in games they started.