In the 2013 BCS National Championship Game, fans won’t be able to differentiate between freshmen and seniors.
Alabama and Notre Dame’s young guns are so talented that, on the field, they could easily be mistaken for upperclassman. Here are the three most talented first-year Crimson Tide and Fighting Irish players.
3. Amari Cooper (WR, Alabama)
The 6’1”, 198-pound target out of Miami earned a spot on the FWAA Freshman All-American Team this season. He did so by leading all Alabama receivers with 53 receptions for 895 yards and nine touchdowns.
Cooper proved in the SEC Championship against Georgia that he’s a big-game performer, catching a 45-yard, go-ahead touchdown with 3:15 left in the fourth quarter.
2. KeiVarae Russell (CB, Notre Dame)
In the four weeks prior to playing Notre Dame, Marquise Lee had racked up an average of 11.8 catches, 205.3 yards and 1.5 touchdowns per game. Matched up with Russell on Nov. 24, he managed to reel in just five balls for 75 yards.
Russell has been phenomenal at shutting down opposing receivers this season and as a result, he also was voted onto the FWAA Freshman All-American Team.
1. T.J. Yeldon (RB, Alabama)
Which freshman will prove to be the most valuable on Monday?
Yeldon wasn’t honored by the Football Writers Association of America, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’ll be the most talented freshman on the field on Monday night. If he wasn’t forced to share carries with Eddie Lacy, he would’ve likely been in the running for the Heisman Trophy.
When Yeldon carried the ball at least 15 times, he never failed to rush for over 125 yards. He compiled 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns this season on an impressive 6.5 yards a pop. The 6’2”, 216-pound ball-carrier boasts a rare combination of power and explosion and could ultimately be the difference in a Crimson Tide victory.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.