It is a grand time for freshmen in college football. Although they were redshirts instead of fresh-out-of-high-school players, Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston have won the past two Heisman Trophies in their first seasons of active eligibility.
Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III was a second-team AP All-American as a true freshman in 2013, and "freshman" head coach Gus Malzahn—as he was considered by the FWAA—came within 15 short seconds of winning a national title at Auburn. Instead, Winston threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin and became the first freshman QB to win the national title since 1983.
With all of that in mind, and with spring practice officially behind us, it is time for our first early look at next year's brightest youngsters.
As criteria for this list, a mixture of skill level, game-readiness and opportunity were accounted for. The most talented freshman at a position is not necessarily the best bet to make the All-Freshman team; if he's buried behind two upperclassmen on the depth chart, 2015 might be the year he begins to make an impact.
Coaching style was also a heavy consideration. Fair or not, stats are typically used as a baseline for postseason teams. A freshman with a clear path to playing time on one of the nation's top offenses was preferred over one in a more conservative scheme. Make sense?
Chime in below and let me know who I missed.
Note: All recruiting information courtesy of the 247Sports Composite.