Top 10 College Football Freshmen from September

Alex SimsCorrespondent IIISeptember 30, 2013

Top 10 College Football Freshmen from September

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    Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

    The first month of the 2013 college football season is in the books and one freshman, Florida State's Jameis Winston, has emerged as one of the most talented players in the nation and a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate.

    Outside of the Seminole signal-caller, a number of freshman quarterbacks have taken the reins of their programs and posted some prolific numbers in the process.

    On the other side of the field, three defensive backs from three different conferences have shown remarkable playmaking ability in just a short time at the collegiate level.

    Finally, a wide receiver from the ACC and a running back from the SEC have proven to be not just the best freshmen, but right alongside the best upperclassmen in the nation at their position.

10. Addison Gillam: LB, Colorado

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    Colorado linebacker Addison Gillam leads all freshmen with 11.33 tackles per game. 

    The Santa Ana, Calif. native was completely off the recruiting radar for most schools, as he only began playing football during his junior year of high school.

    He eventually signed with San Jose State as a composite 2-star out of the class of 2012. The Foothill High School product was all set to enroll in the spring at SJSU, but ultimately decided to head to Boulder.

    The rest is history, as Gillam quickly jumped to the top of the Buffaloes' depth chart and is now eating up tackles at an alarming rate.

    Through three games, the 6'3", 225-pound freshman has 34 tackles, four tackles for a loss and one sack, with two passes defended.

9. Su'a Cravens: DB, USC

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    The story of Su'a Cravens is a stark contrast from that of Addison Gillam. 

    Cravens was one of the most highly-touted recruits in the nation coming out of Vista Murrieta. He was rated a composite 5-star, the No. 1 safety and the No. 5 overall player in the 247Sports composite ratings for 2013.

    So far, the 6'1", 215-pound freshman has lived up to his expectations.

    Despite the turmoil surrounding the Trojan program, Cravens has logged 24 tackles, two interceptions, three pass breakups and a forced fumble.

    Cravens is set to be an All-American candidate for at least the next three years.

8. Jared Goff: QB, Cal

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    Jared Goff struggled mightily in Week 5 against Oregon and was eventually pulled for backup Zach Kline. However, that doesn't take away from the freshman's impressive body of work.

    The former composite 4-star has blossomed in Sonny Dykes' air raid offense.

    The Greenbrae, Calif. native leads all freshmen with 1,312 passing yards. He has found the end zone through the air seven times.

    Bumps in the road are expected for young quarterbacks like Goff, particularly when taking on a national title contender in a driving rain, so his job should be safe going forward.

    As the Bears continue to grow in Dykes' first year in the program, Goff will continue to progress.

7. Christian Hackenberg: QB, Penn State

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    Penn State's Christian Hackenberg is third in the Big Ten in passing and first among all conference freshmen, averaging 256.8 yards per game. 

    Even despite PSU's limited depth, Hackenberg's success hardly comes as a surprise.

    The Palmyra, Va. native was a composite 5-star out of Fork Union Military Academy and was the No. 13 overall player in the 247Sports composite ratings.

    Hackenberg has also helped his favorite target, receiver Allen Robinson, off to a great start. The junior has caught 26 passes for 448 yards and has hauled in three of Hackenberg's five touchdown tosses.

    After choosing a tough situation at PSU, Hackenberg has shown that he is the right man for the job.

6. Baker Mayfield: QB, Texas Tech

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    Baker Mayfield wasn't as highly recruited as he had hoped as a composite 3-star prospect. The Lake Travis product didn't receive any BCS conference offers and decided to walk on at Texas Tech.

    It didn't take long for Mayfield to show that, just maybe he should have drawn a little more attention out of high school.

    The Austin, Texas native threw for 413 and 367 yards and seven touchdowns in his first two games.

    He regressed a bit in his first true test against a talented TCU secondary and was eventually replaced by fellow freshman Davis Webb.

    Mayfield remained the starter, however, and has thrown for 1,120 yards and eight touchdowns, leading the Red Raiders to a 4-0 record.

5. Vernon Hargreaves III: DB, Florida

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    It isn't an easy task for a true freshman to earn a spot in the Florida secondary, but Vernon Hargreaves III has quickly claimed a lead role on the UF defense.

    Hargreaves was a composite 5-star, the No. 1 cornerback and the No. 3 overall prospect in the 247Sports composite ratings.

    So far in Gainesville, Hargreaves has shown that he is one of the best playmaking defensive backs in the nation.

    In addition to seven tackles, the Tampa native has pulled down three interceptions and broken up four passes.

    Florida always seems to attract elite defensive backs, and Hargreaves is the next in that line.

4. Alex Collins: RB, Arkansas

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    Alex Collins and Bret Bielema's rushing attack have proven to be a perfect match so far this season.

    The former composite 4-star is vicious with the football in his hands and has had the best start of any freshman running back in the nation. 

    Through five games, the Fort Lauderdale, Fla. native has amassed 597 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

    Collins' 119-yard-per-game average has him ahead of every freshman in the nation and only behind South Carolina sophomore Mike Davis in the SEC.

    Already, Collins is looking like this year's Todd Gurley.

3. Tyler Boyd: WR, Pitt

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    Tyler Boyd has just been killing it for Pitt in 2013.

    The former composite 4-star has torn apart opposing defenses for 425 yards and four touchdowns through four games.

    At 6'2", 185 pounds, Boyd came to Pitt physically ready to play at the next level and he showed it immediately.

    With an average of 106.3 receiving yards per game, the Clairton, Pa. native has been the best freshman receiver in the nation thus far.

    The Pitt offense hasn't been extremely impressive as a whole, but Boyd has been incredible for the Panthers.

2. Brandon Facyson: DB, Virginia Tech

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    Brandon Facyson was one of the many highly-touted defensive backs to sign with Virginia Tech in its 2013 class.

    Composite 5-star Kendall Fuller looked to be the biggest pull for the Hokies, and he has been excellent. However, the former 3-star Facyson has made the biggest impact of all for VT.

    In fact, Facyson has had the biggest impact of any freshman defender in the nation. The Newnan, Ga. native has broken up seven passes, forced and recovered one fumble and leads the nation with four interceptions.

    Including Facyson's four picks and two from Fuller, Virginia Tech is tied with Tennessee for an NCAA-leading 11 total interceptions.

    According to his official VT bio, Facyson wants to become a heart surgeon. 

1. Jameis Winston: QB, Florida State

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    There is no question who has been the most impressive freshman in 2013.

    Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, a redshirt freshman, has played himself in the Heisman Trophy conversation already this season.

    The former composite 5-star rocketed into view in his collegiate debut against Pitt. In that game, the Hueytown, Ala. native completed 92.6 percent of his passes for 356 yards and four touchdowns.

    On the year, Winston has 1,048 passing yards with 12 touchdowns and just two interceptions and a quarterback rating of 209.5, good for No. 2 in the nation. He also has 111 rushing yards and two touchdowns. 

    There have been a number of prolific freshman this season, but none have come close to Winston.