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Freshman Report Card Grades Through Week 12

Sebastian LenaAnalyst INovember 14, 2015

Freshman Report Card Grades Through Week 12

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    Cravens (left) is quickly making a name for himself.
    Cravens (left) is quickly making a name for himself.Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    With just three weeks remaining in the college football season, time is running out for this year’s freshman class to make a lasting impression.

    Some of these players benefited from breakout performances that helped their respective teams to victories. Others had a bye week to sit back and reflect on their season. One in particular had a performance he wishes he could take back.

    All in all, we’ve seen a lot from these youngsters in their college football debuts.

    Let’s take a closer look and break down the recent performances of some of the top players in the freshman class of 2013.

     

    Note: This list consists of the top true freshmen on 247Sports' Composite, one player from outside the top six who has most impressed and one superlative redshirt who couldn't be ignored.

DE Robert Nkemdiche (Ole Miss)

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    Nkemdiche (right) reminded us why he was the prize of the Rebels' 2013 recruiting class.
    Nkemdiche (right) reminded us why he was the prize of the Rebels' 2013 recruiting class.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Previous Grade: B-

    Last Week: 4.0 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, 1 QB hurry (W 51-21 vs. Troy)

     

    The Skinny

    Last Saturday, Robert Nkemdiche put together the kind of performance that the Rebels have been expecting out of him since he arrived at the school.

    Starting at defensive tackle, the freshman played terrific all game long. He picked up four tackles and recorded two tackles for loss for the first time since Week 2. Nkemdiche also recorded his first career sack.

    It was a performance that earned him the honors of SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week, via Ole Miss' official website.

    Following a week where he took a step back after being ejected, Nkemdiche took two steps forward with this stellar performance.

    Now, let’s see if he can keep it up.

     

    Grade: B

OLB Jaylon Smith (Notre Dame)

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    Smith (right) has been a bright spot for an overall disappointing defense.
    Smith (right) has been a bright spot for an overall disappointing defense.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Previous Grade: A+

    Last Week: Bye week

     

    The Skinny

    While the Irish hoped a bye week would help them rediscover their swagger, the team also got an additional week to reflect on the stellar performance of linebacker Jaylon Smith.

    Although Notre Dame lost its Nov. 9 contest against Pittsburgh, 28-21, Smith was at his best. The freshman registered 11.0 tackles and 1.0 tackle for loss while making his presence known all over the field.

    It’s the kind of performance head coach Brian Kelly hopes Smith can build on.

    With just 10 games under his belt, it’s scary how good the young linebacker has been.

     

    Grade: A+

CB Vernon Hargreaves III (Florida)

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    Hargreaves III has been a pest to opposing quarterbacks all season long.
    Hargreaves III has been a pest to opposing quarterbacks all season long.Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

    Previous Grade: A+

    Last Week: 2.0 tackles, 1 pass broken up (L 19-14 at No. 12 South Carolina)

     

    The Skinny

    Statistically speaking, cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III had one of his less productive performances of the season.

    However, it’s hard to put up numbers when opposing quarterbacks try to avoid you all game long.

    Although the Gators lost, Gamecocks quarterback Connor Shaw struggled through the air. He threw for 213 yards and a touchdown on just 14-of-28 passing.

    Still, it wasn’t one of Hargreaves III's best outings of the season. He seemed to look a little more vulnerable than he has in recent weeks.

    It’s fully expected that Hargreaves III will pick it up next weekend.

     

    Grade: A

S Su'a Cravens (USC)

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    Cravens was clutch during the Trojans' upset win last weekend.
    Cravens was clutch during the Trojans' upset win last weekend.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Previous Grade: B

    Last Week: 3.0 tackles, 1 interception (W 20-17 vs. No. 4 Stanford)

     

    The Skinny

    The Trojans pulled off a monumental upset last weekend, toppling the then-No. 4 Cardinal, 20-17.

    It was a win that may not have been possible if it weren’t for the heads-up play of safety Su’a Cravens, who intercepted a pass with the clock winding down. Following the pick, USC drove down the field and converted on a game-winning field goal.

    It was Cravens' team-high fourth interception of the season.

    He also added three tackles on the game. But it’s the heads-up play Cravens made with the game on the line that he will be remembered for.

    Those are exactly the kind of plays that brought him to the Trojans in the first place.

     

    Grade: B+

RB Alex Collins (Arkansas)

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    Collins (center) has lost his mojo over the second half of the season.
    Collins (center) has lost his mojo over the second half of the season.Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    Previous Grade: B+

    Last Week: Bye week

     

    The Skinny

    It will be interesting to see if a week off will benefit running back Alex Collins.

    After topping the century mark in four of the Razorbacks' first five contests, the freshman has cooled off significantly. Not only has he failed to top 100 yards in five consecutive games now, but Collins has also found the end zone just once in that span.

    Coming off a 57-yard performance against Ole Miss, Collins will be expected to step it up this weekend.

    Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him lose significant playing time to fellow back Jonathan Williams.

     

    Grade: B+

QB Jameis Winston (Florida State)

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    Who has done it better than Winston in 2013?
    Who has done it better than Winston in 2013?Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Grade: A+

    Last Week: 19-of-21, 277 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 int (W 59-3 vs. Syracuse)

     

    The Skinny

    Quarterback Jameis Winston returned to his magical ways.

    The redshirt freshman put on a clinic against the Orange, throwing for as many touchdowns as he had incompletions. Winston finished the day with 277 yards through the air and two scores on 19-of-21 passing.

    With the Seminoles all but assured a spot in the BCS title game, Winston has become the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy.

    Each week, he seems to only outdo himself. Every challenge that Winston has come across he has tossed aside with little to no effort.

    This guy is playing with poise beyond his years and deserves all the praise that comes his way.

     

    Grade: A++

     

    All stats and rankings used in this article are courtesy of NCAA.com.

    For complete coverage and everything college football, you can reach Sebastian on Facebook, on Twitter and via e-mail at Sebastian.LenaBR@gmail.com

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