2009 CFN Freshman All-American Offense
QB Andrew Luck, Stanford
It took a couple of seasons, but Jim Harbaugh has found his quarterback to build around for the next three seasons. Poised well beyond his years and blessed with a great arm, he’s second in the Pac-10 in passing efficiency, throwing 13 touchdown passes and a league-low four picks. After playing within the framework of the offense this fall, he’ll be the focal in 2010 and beyond.
RB Dion Lewis, Pittsburgh
The only person in Pittsburgh who felt LeSean McCoy was indeed expendable was Lewis, who has rushed for a Big East-best 1,640 yards and 16 touchdowns to conjure up memories of a young Tony Dorsett. Running with impeccable vision and quickness, he wrapped up the regular season with seven straight 100-yard games.
RB Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech
While it’s not like Williams snuck up on the Hokies, they are still ecstatic at how well he has stepped up after starter Darren Evans was lost for the year in August. A first team All-ACC selection in his debut season, he was a bona fide workhorse, turning 268 carries into 1,538 yards and 19 touchdowns. Evans will have a tough time regaining his job next spring.
RB LaMichael James, Oregon
James didn’t just break the Pac-10 rushing record for freshmen this season—he destroyed it. The backup to LeGarrette Blount before the season began, he was just ducky after the incumbent was suspended in the opener, rushing for 1,476 yards and 14 touchdowns in an eye-popping debut season.
WR Eric Page, Toledo
C’mon, was this Rocket really playing quarterback and returning kicks in high school last year? He sure looked like a veteran wide receiver in Toledo, leading the nation’s freshmen with 82 receptions for 1,159 yards and seven touchdowns, and hauling in more than 10 passes in a game three times.
WR Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina
A big, physical receiver, who uses his body well, Jeffery stopped looking like a first-year player by mid-October. One of the SEC’s most dangerous pass-catchers by the end of the regular season, he caught just three balls in September, yet now has 45 grabs for 735 yards and six touchdowns.
TE Orson Charles, Georgia
Yeah, Charles lines up at tight end, but he’s all wide receiver when running routes. An athletic 6-3, 230-pounder, with great hands and quickness, he’s the next in a long line of prolific Bulldogs at the position. He has scratched the surface of his potential this fall, making 21 catches for 366 yards and three touchdowns.
OT Michael Philipp, Oregon State
A star has been born up front in Corvallis. Philipp has been everything the Beavers expected, when they beat out the rest of the Pac-10 to land him, winning the left tackle job the moment he got on campus. A road grader on running downs, he also has the good feet and solid technique to excel in pass protection.
OG Barrett Jones, Alabama
Not only has Jones started every game at right guard for the Tide, but he’s twice been cited by the coaching staff as the offensive player of the week. After a shoulder injury cost him most of last year, he’s shown the smarts and athleticism that this rebuilt offensive line has sorely needed in 2009.
C Dalton Freeman, Clemson
Ever since Freeman took over at center midway through the season, the Tiger offense and QB Kyle Parker have played at a higher level. A coincidence? Maybe. Or maybe he really has had that much influence in his first season, consistently grading out well and flexing his muscles as a budding force as a run blocker.
OG David DeCastro, Stanford
DeCastro has played a key role in one of this season’s biggest surprises, a young Cardinal line that’s allowed just six sacks and helped pave the way for Toby Gerhart’s monster year. A physically imposing 6-5, 310-pounder, he’s played with all the maturity and swagger of a third-year starter. Both he and freshman T Jonathan Martin will be the cornerstones of this front wall for the next few seasons.
OT Tanner Hawkinson, Kansas
After logging a bunch of frequent-flyer miles, Hawkinson has finally found a home at left tackle, where he spent the season ably protecting Todd Reesing’s blindside. However, he arrived in Lawrence as a tight end and switched to the defensive line at the end of 2008, but is staying put and will be even better after adding some weight.
QB Kyle Parker, Clemson
RB Bernard Pierce, Temple
RB Chris Polk, Washington
WR Chris Givens, Wake Forest
WR Conner Vernon, Duke
TE Chris Pantale, Boston College
OT Jonathan Martin, Stanford
OG Carson York, Oregon
C Peter Konz, Wisconsin
OG Patrick Lewis, Texas A&M
OT Aaron Douglas, Tennessee
QB Landry Jones, Oklahoma
RB Christine Michael, Texas A&M
RB Charles Sims, Houston
WR Uzoma Nwachukwu, Texas A&M
WR Alex Torres, Texas Tech
TE Lucas Reed, New Mexico
OT Riley Reiff, Iowa
OG Josh Jenkins, West Virginia
C Ben Habern, Oklahoma
OG Lane Taylor, Oklahoma State
OT Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA
QB: B.J. Daniels, South Florida, Matt Barkley, USC, Tate Forcier, Michigan, Tom Savage, Rutgers
RB: Adam Robinson, Iowa, Trent Richardson, Alabama, Warren Norman, Vanderbilt, Ed Wesley, TCU
WR: Tyshon Goode, Kent State, Antavious Wilson, Marshall, Mohamed Sanu, Rutgers, Roy Roundtree, Michigan
OL: Jake Olson, Central Michigan, Xavier Nixon, Florida, Hugh Thornton, Illinois, Marcus Hall, Ohio State, Neil Deiters, Northwestern, Ivory Wade, Baylor, Chris Barker, Nevada, T.J. Johnson, South Carolina, Braden Hansen, BYU, Erik Kuraczea, Connecticut, Mario Benavides, Louisville, Will Matte, Indiana, Michael Via, Virginia Tech
2009 CFN Freshman All-American Defense
DE Aldon Smith, Missouri
Although it’s early, Aldon appears ready to be the next great Smith to rush the passer in Columbia, joining Justin and Brian, who starred for the Tigers within the last decade. A relative unknown before the season began, he’s erupted for 59 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, and five pass break ups.
DT Jerel Worthy, Michigan State
Very quick and athletic for a 6-3, 292-pounder, Worthy has become a fixture on the inside for the Spartans in his first season of action. Playing with the burst and the explosive first step of a defensive end, he’s laid a foundation for an All-Big Ten career with 34 tackles, 8.5 tackles loss, and 4.5 sacks.
DT Kawann Short, Purdue
The Boilermakers used a slew of young players in this five-win, table-setting season. Short was one of those building blocks. At 6-4 and 310 pounds, he’s a big, athletic interior linemen, with the quick first step to get penetration. A starter from day one, he got in on 48 tackles, four behind the line, and intercepted a pair of passes.
DE Nick Perry, USC
As situational pass rushers go, Perry has gotten off to a fast start in his Trojan career. More like an outside linebacker than a defensive lineman because of his size, speed and get-off, he’s regularly frustrated opposing tackles to the tune of 22 tackles, eight tackles for loss, and seven sacks.
LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College
Somewhere within Kuechly’s brilliant rookie season, there’s a poignant message about silver linings. In an odd twist, his breakthrough year was only made possible after star LB Mark Herzlich was lost to a rare cancer. Kuechly stepped into the gaping void and went on to lead the nation’s freshmen with 142 tackles and 12.5 tackles for loss. He’s going to be a very special player…if he isn’t already.
LB Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State
As good as advertised, when half of the West Coast sought his signature, Burfict broke into the lineup and made it impossible to keep him off the field. Physically, he’s no true freshman, using his size, strength, and explosiveness to collect 69 tackles, seven tackles for loss, and a pair of sacks. He has the unmistakable upside of a future All-American.
LB Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
Te’o was every bit as talented as the press clippings indicated when he was considered a consensus blue-chipper from Hawaii. After a slow start, he got comfortable and really started to flash all of his athletic ability and penchant for planting opposing players. He finished with 63 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss, clearly getting more comfortable as the season progressed.
CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina
The rare true freshman to start at cornerback in the SEC, Gilmore possesses the ideal blend of size and athleticism to blossom into a lockdown defender. He had 52 tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks, and nine passes defended, which don’t even begin to shed light on just how good he’ll be over the next three years.
S Rashard Hall, Clemson
Even when he doesn’t start a game, Hall has made his presence felt on the Tiger defense this season. A ball-hawk, who breaks on passes like a corner, he’s made 58 tackles and is second behind DeAndre McDaniel with six interceptions. His combination of strength and athleticism are going to set him apart over the next three seasons.
S John Boyett, Oregon
When injuries struck the Duck secondary early in the season, Boyett was one of the players to step up and solidify it. A former quarterback in high school and terrific athlete, he plays with excellent range and will lower the boom like a linebacker. Even as a part-time starter, he has a team-high 78 tackles and has broken up six passes.
CB Josh Robinson, UCF
Robinson had opportunities to play in the Big East, ACC, SEC, or Big Ten. However, he felt at home in Orlando, which has been great news for the Knights ever since he arrived. One of the young parts in Conference USA’s toughest defenses, he leads the team with six picks and is tied with a team-best 56 solo tackles.
PK Nick Tausch, Notre Dame
Tausch wasted little time confirming that he was one of the nation’s top prep placekickers, winning the job in the summer and then solidifying the position in the fall. Prior to injuring his leg and missing most of November, he’d hit all but three of his 17 field goal tries while showing good pop on his kicks.
P Jeff Locke, UCLA
The ideal successor to Aaron Perez, Locke has displayed the leg strength to keep the Bruins solid here through the 2012 season. The only freshman semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award, he’s second in the Pac-10 with a 44-yard average, while leading the league in touchbacks on kickoffs.
DE Chase Thomas, Stanford
DT Jacobbi McDaniel, Florida State
DT Omar Hunter, Florida
DE Alex Okafor, Texas
LB Steve Greer, Virginia
LB Ronnie Thornton, Southern Miss
LB Chris Borland, Wisconsin
CB Greg Reid, Florida State
S Cody Davis, Texas Tech
S Jordan Kovacs, Michigan
CB Kenny Okoro, Wake Forest
PK Matt Weller, Ohio
P Tress Way, Oklahoma
DE Devin Taylor, South Carolina
DT Will Pericak, Colorado
DT Adam Replogle, Indiana
DE Taylor Wyndham, Kentucky
LB Kyle Mangan, Texas A&M
LB Walter Stewart, Cincinnati
LB Brian Wagner, Akron
CB Josh Hill, Cal
S Daren Bates, Auburn
S Drew Frey, Cincinnati
CB Bryan Willis, Troy
PK Ryan Fowler, Vanderbilt
P Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
DL: Cory Dorris, Tulsa, Steven Means, Buffalo, Larry Black, Indiana, Baker Steinkuhler, Nebraska, Scott Vallone, Rutgers, A.J. Francis, Maryland, Dontari Poe, Memphis
LB: Huldon Tharp, Kansas, Shayne Skov, Stanford, Mike Taylor, Wisconsin, Craig Roh, Michigan, Kevin Reddick, North Carolina, J.C. Percy, Boise State
DB: Desmond Trufant, Washington, Terry Hawthorne, Illinois, Kemal Ismael, UCF, Shamiel Gary, Wyoming, Dexter McCoil, Tulsa, Jared Holley, Pittsburgh, Lubbock Smith, Kansas