College Football 2012: 7 Freshmen Who Should Make a Week 2 Impact
With the opening week of college football in the books, we have a better idea of the freshmen—both true and redshirt—around the nation who are setting up as impact players.
With so many young players forced to watch the action from the sidelines—or the stands—it's particularly special to see those 18- and 19-year-olds on the field, influencing the outcome of the game.
Now that we've seen some of these youngsters in action, many of whom made their marks on Week 1, who can we count on to continue that impact momentum?
Here's our list of seven freshmen who should make an impact in Week 2.
Honorable Mention: Sawyer Kollmorgen, QB, FCS Northern Iowa
Wisconsin has played FCS teams before, but probably none quite like Northern Iowa.
Northern Iowa came into the Week 1 meeting at Wisconsin as the No. 9 team in The Sports Network FCS Top 25 Poll. Despite losing, the Panthers actually rose in the poll to No. 8 after a great performance and narrow defeat at the hands of No. 13 Wisconsin, who slipped on spot in the B/R Top 25 poll.
The main reason UNI was able to keep the game so close against the Badgers was due to the play of quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen. The redshirt freshman from Jenks, Oklahoma was 18-of-34 for 265 yards passing with three touchdowns.
Kollmorgen was subsequently named FCS Player of the Week by The Sports Network, as well as Freshman of the Week.
The Missouri Valley Football Conference also named Kollmorgen as “Newcomer of the Week.”
No kidding. Keep your eye on this kid, as he'll be essential to UNI's run for the playoffs this season.
Wes Lunt, QB, Oklahoma State
A perfect 11-of-11 is not what you'd expect from the arm of a kid in his first collegiate appearance.
But that's exactly what we saw from Wes Lunt in Week 1.
Yes, it was against FCS Savannah State, but still, he was perfect when it came to throwing the football.
Wes Lunt shared the quarterbacking duties with fellow frosh JW Walsh. Together, the two combined for 278 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Okie State's 84-0 thrashing for a clearly over-matched contest.
With the record-setting 67.5-point spread put out by the Vagas oddsmakers, there's been some talk about whether the payment-for-humiliation is really worth it for teams like Savannah State.
But we can't ignore the fact that it was a great way to cut the teeth of a couple new freshman quarterbacks.
The lopsided score was even enough to move the Pokes up a couple of spots in the most recent B/R Top 25 Poll.
Leonard Williams, DE, USC
With so much emphasis on USC being a thin team this season when it comes to talent, it's important for the younger guys to step forward and fill some of those holes on the two-deep.
While Williams isn't to the point yet where the coaches are considering him for a starting position, there's always the chance an untimely injury could put him in a position of playing a full sixty minutes.
Williams did manage to find his way onto the field during the Week 1 beatdown of Hawai'i, and he showed why he's a freshman on which you may want to keep tabs; two tackles including a sack in his collegiate debut—regardless of the opponent—is always good to see.
You can bet the USC coaches will be keeping their eyes on Williams, and so should you. With Syracuse next on the docket for SC, there's every reason to believe we'll see Williams against this Saturday.
Ashton Lampkin, S, Oklahoma State
Another Cowboy from Oklahoma State makes our list, and after a 84-0 thrashing of an FCS opponent, you shouldn't be surprised that expectations are (perhaps artificially) high in Stillwater.
While we were surprised to see 84 points from the Oklahoma State offense, the big story should be that the defense held the hapless Tigers to 81 yards passing, and 58 yards rushing. And zero points.
Defense hasn't necessarily been the name of the game in the Big 12 as of late, but Oklahoma State's Ashton Lampkin was the start of the game of Oklahoma State.
Not only did Lampkin make an impact on special teams (where we typically see freshman impacts) with a pair of punt returns averaging 16.5 yards, but he contributed with three tackles and an interception in the Cowboys secondary, as well.
While not a performance that will earn many player of the week honors, it's still a very solid showing from a young star on a team that could really benefit from a little more life on defense.
If he can continue to make a contribution—especially against Week 2 opponent Arizona—we may start to raise the stock of Oklahoma State's future on defense.
Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
Georgia is absolutely loaded with talent this season, and if Todd Gurley is any indication, it looks as if head coach Mark Richt intends to keep it that way for quite a while.
Gurley had just eight carries in his collegiate debut for the Bulldogs, but he averaged 12.5 yards per touch for an even 100 in his first outing.
He also added two touchdowns to his stat sheet.
Yes, it was against Buffalo, but he's definitely a freshman you'll want to watch as the SEC conference schedule gets underway next week with a trip to conference newcomer Missouri.
Duke Johnson, RB, Miami (FL)
We absolutely love big games from freshmen coming out of the backfield, and Duke Johnson was a cut above the rest in Week 1.
In an opening week win against conference foe Boston College, Miami's Duke Johnson put on a rushing clinic for the BC defense, averaging over 19 yards per carry on just seven touches for 135 yards and two touchdowns.
Johnson also hauled in three passes for 10 yards against the Eagles.
Miami has taken more than its share of lumps over the past couple of seasons, and the program will have to suffer through some rightly-deserved NCAA sanctions.
But Johnson is a definite light at the end of that tunnel, and he should have Hurricanes fans drooling with the possibilities.
In Week 2, the Canes travel to Manhattan, Kansas to meet up with Bill Snyder's Kansas State Wildcats. If Miami has any hopes of hanging tough with K-State, Johnson will have to impress again—probably with more than seven carries this time.
TJ Yeldon, RB, Alabama
As it turns out, Michigan wasn't quite a good as we all expected. Or Alabama is a lot better than we expected.
Either way, we can safely say that Alabama's TJ Yeldon was much better than expected.
Yeldon ran over, around and through the Wolverines on Saturday night, gaining 111 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries.
He also caught one pass for 26 yards.
Alabama has a great recent lineage of top running backs with Heisman-winner Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson each highlighting championship teams.
While it's only one game, Yeldon firmly stated his intentions to be the next name on the list of great rushers in Tuscaloosa.
And if you thought Michigan's defense was bad, just wait until you get a load of Western Kentucky—the Crimson Tide's opponent for Week 2.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Starting at quarterback for a team like the Oregon Ducks has to be a nerve-wracking experience for anyone.
For an 18-year-old, it has to be a veritable nightmare.
But Marcus Mariota, just two months shy of his 19th birthday, didn't show any signs of lost sleep as he completed 18 of his 22 passes for 200 yards and three touchdowns.
Sure, it was just Arkansas State, but with Fresno State coming to Eugene for Week 2, you can expect a similarly impressive performance for this youngster who has even look of becoming the next big thing in the Pacific Northwest.
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