Welcome to college football, young freshman. Now, go out there and be somebody.
Week 1 of the 2014 season was further proof that freshmen are in a position to not only play right away but be key contributors as well.
That trend started on Thursday in Texas A&M's convincing 52-28 win over South Carolina. The Aggies had multiple freshmen, including receiver Ricky Seals-Jones, defensive back Armani Watts and defensive end Myles Garrett, act as key playmakers.
Thus, the Bleacher Report freshman power rankings were born.
The freshmen on this list didn't technically have to start—as in, they didn't have to be the first player on the field at their respective position—but they did have to play at least a complementary or rotational role with at least one recordable stat.
So which freshmen stood out in Week 1? Which ones had the most jaw-dropping highlights? Which ones underwhelmed? The answers are in the list below.
|1. Armani Watts||Defensive Back||Texas A&M||3 tackles, 1 Interception, pass break-up|
|2. Anu Solomon||Quarterback||Arizona||25-of-44, 425 yards, 4 touchdowns|
|3. Royce Freeman||Running Back||Oregon||10 carries, 75 yards, 2 touchdowns|
|4. Nick Chubb||Running Back||Georgia||4 carries, 70 yards, touchdown|
|5. Myles Garrett||Defensive End||Texas A&M||1 sack|
Of course, there are countless freshmen playing in college football today. Is there someone being overlooked who deserves more credit? Sound off in the comments below.
The Standout: Arizona Quarterback Anu Solomon
The redshirt freshman shined in his first start for the Wildcats in an easy 58-13 win over UNLV. Solomon threw for 425 yards, a school freshman passing record, and four touchdowns. Perhaps more importantly, however, he didn't throw a pick or fumble the football.
Even against a winnable opponent at home, taking care of the football had to have been one of the biggest takeaways.
Additionally, Solomon added another 50 yards on the ground, including a 31-yard rush.
The Rebels may not be the most formidable opponent, but Solomon looks like he'll be a great fit in Rodriguez's offense.
Best Highlight: Georgia running back Nick Chubb
Running back and Heisman contender Todd Gurley was the superstar in Georgia's 45-21 win over Clemson, rushing for a career-high 198 yards and three touchdowns.
But Gurley's effort was complemented by freshman Nick Chubb, who finished second on the team with 70 yards—on just four carries.
Chubb's highlight came on a monster 47-yard touchdown in which he powered through arm tackles and made Clemson defenders look like they were bad at football.
Gurley is the show in Athens, but the future at running back for the Dawgs looks blindingly bright with Chubb in the backfield.
To steal a quote from head coach Mark Richt:
Richt opening statement: “That was fun.” #UGA— Logan Booker (@LoganBooker_BI) August 31, 2014
Who’s Rising: Texas A&M Defensive End Myles Garrett
The focus of Texas A&M's 52-28 win over South Carolina will be on sophomore quarterback Kenny Hill, who threw for a program-best 511 yards in his debut.
But how about a little love for an A&M defensive player? Freshman defensive end Myles Garrett didn't exactly light up the stat sheet, but he did have a sack in his first game.
While the Aggies' defense still has issues to iron it out, it also looks promising. Garrett (and Watts) is a big reason for that. He's a physical freak at 6'5" and 255 pounds, so he's still learning how to use his talent at the college level, but the tools are there.
Garrett is turned loose now. He's learning so much every play.— Michael Felder (@InTheBleachers) August 29, 2014
Who’s Falling: LSU running back Leonard Fournette.
The Tigers came back Saturday to beat Wisconsin 28-24 in Houston, but the debut for Fournette, the former No. 1 overall recruit according to 247Sports, was more underwhelming: eight carries for 18 yards.
Give Wisconsin's defense credit. Other than a late-game meltdown in which the Tigers' ground game took control with Kenny Hilliard, the Badgers generally did a nice job stopping the run. Fournette is obviously a talented player, but even the best running backs struggle when there's nowhere to run.
Fournette is capable of bouncing back and could still have a banner year, but his preseason Heisman expectations have been put on hold.
Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football.