Since the NCAA restored freshman eligibility in college football in 1972 freshmen have been taking lager roles on the field. Whereas freshman used to spend their first year on campus redshirting no matter how talented they were.
As the college football landscape has changed and teams are force to win quickly super talented freshman have found their way into starting line ups. Even now Joe Paterno once out spoken about freshman playing has now reversed that thought and has started to allow freshman to start.
With the new college football set to start in about a month freshman will surely be a big part of a few teams upcoming season and quite possibly make a run at some of the freshman records. So let’s open up the NCAA record books and see the current record holders for freshman.
Michael Turner: Running Back, Northern Illinois Huskies
Turner owns one NCAA freshman record that being the most carries in a single game. On November 18, 2000 against Central Michigan Turner rushed for 281 yards on 52 carries (record) and one touchdown.
Turner’s rushing performance helped Northern Illinois beat Central Michigan 40-6 in the final game of the season. With the victory Northern Illinois finished the season with a winning record at 6-5.
Turner not only had a successful freshman year at Northern Illinois but a great career as well. Turner set several school records while with the Huskies and was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in 2004.
Steve Bartalo: Running Back, Colorado State Rams
In 1983 Bartalo set an NCAA freshman for most rushes per game. After walking on the Colorado State football team and missing the first two games of the 83’ season averaged 29.2 carries a game.
Bartalo had 292 carries in just ten games and the 29.2 carries is still an NCAA record.
Bartalo would go on to set several records for the Rams during his career there. He was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1986. In 1995 Bartalo was inducted in to the Colorado State Hall of Fame.
Jamario Thomas: Running Back, North Texas Mean Green
Thomas burst onto the college football world in 2004 setting a NCAA freshman record with six games rushing over 200 yards. Thomas’ record started with 247 yards on 32 carries against Colorado.
Thomas would run for 256 yards on 38 carries against Utah State, 258 yards on 33 carries against New Mexico State, 218 yards, on 41 carries against Louisiana Monroe, 203 yards on 36 carries against Louisiana-Lafayette and 291 yards on 29 carries against Idaho.
Thomas would rush for 1,801 yards on 285 carries. He would go on to be named Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year, and Freshman of the Year.
Thomas, unlike other players would never duplicate his freshman season. Injuries to his hamstring during his sophomore and junior seasons drove NFL scouts away and Thomas was undrafted after his senior season.
Greg Hill: Running Back, Texas A&M Aggies
Hill made an immediate mark on Texas A&M football in his first game ever for the Aggies. He would set and NCAA freshman for most yards gained in the first game of a career.
On September 14, 1991 Hill rushed for 212 yards on 30 carries as the Aggies trounced LSU 45-7. He would go on to set a freshman record for most rushing yards at Texas A&M as well.
Hill would have a very successful career with the Aggies. Until his after his junior year when a scandal broke that Hill and other players received money for work that was never preformed.
The 1994 Aggies would go 10-1 but because the NCAA placed them on probation with no TV. appearances and no bowl game they were not able to compete for a championship.
Hill declared for the draft for going his senior year shortly after the NCAA ruling came down and was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1994.
Jerald Sowell: Running Back Tulane Green Wave
Sowell was able to set a NCAA freshman record for the longest rush by a freshman in his first career game. Sowell broke through the Alabama defense for a 98 yard touchdown run the longest ever by a freshman at the start of a career.
The run came against the defending National Champions in his first game on September 4, 1993. Alabama would win the game 31-17 but would later have to forfeit.
Sowell would go on to rush for 403 yards his freshman season. He would have a solid career for the Green Wave even though the teams were not very good.
In the 1997 draft Sowell was selected by the New York Jets in the seventh round.
Demarco Murray: Running Back, Oklahoma Sooners
Murray set a NCAA freshman record for the most touchdowns scored rushing by a player in his first collegiate game. Murray set the record on September 1, 2007 against an overmatched North Texas team.
Murray set the record with 5 touchdowns against North Texas in 79-10 blowout win. Murray is currently enjoying a nice career still with the Sooners.
Michael Vick: Quarterback, Virginia Tech Hokies
Vick set an NCAA freshman record for the highest passing efficiency rating for a season. Vick’s passing efficiency rating his freshman year was 180.4 as he completed 90 of the 152 passes attempted for 1,840 yards, 12 touchdown passes to just five interceptions.
Vick would take Virginia Tech football to unprecedented heights while he was at the school. Even leading the Hokies to the National Championship game for the first time in school history but coming up short against Florida State.
The Atlanta Falcons drafted Vick in the first round with the 1st overall pick. Vick would quickly become a superstar for the Falcons. He would go on to sign the riches contract in the history of the NFL in 2005 worth 130 Million.
Just two years later in 2007 Vick’s world would come crashing down as he entered a plea agreement for his role in a dog fighting ring. Vick would be sentenced to 23 months in prison. Vick has since been conditionally reinstated to the NFL but as of this article has not signed with a team.
Kellen Moore: Quarterback, Boise State Broncos
Moore was the first freshman to ever start for Boise State and he did not disappoint. He Lead the Broncos to 12-1 record with the only loss coming in their bowl game and nearly rewriting the Boise State record book.
Moore also set NCAA freshman record for highest percentage of passes completed by a freshman. He completed 69.4 percent of his passes in his first season.
Moore completed 281 out of 405 attempts and will return this season for the Broncos to help finish the undefeated season they nearly completed last year.
Robert Griffin: Quarterback, Baylor Bears
Griffin came off the bench in the fourth drive of the season for the Bears against Wake Forest. Griffin was the youngest starting quarterback last season and was a duel threat to run or pass.
Griffin set several records for the Bears during his freshman season. He also set an NCAA record for consecutive passes attempted without an interception with 209.
The first interception by Griffin came in the ninth game of the season against Missouri in the final minutes. Even after a 4-8 season last year there are high hopes for 2009 for not only Griffin but Baylor as well.
Sam Bradford: Quarterback, Oklahoma Sooners
Since coming to Oklahoma there has not been much that Bradford has not done. He has won the Heisman Trophy and led his team to the National Championship game all last season.
As Bradford’s career has progress he seems likely to rewrite the Sooners record book before his time in college is done. He does own one NCAA freshman record to his credit as well.
In a freshman season that saw Bradford pass for 3,121 yards on 237 completions on 341 attempts in 2007. He also passed for 36 touchdowns that a record for the most touchdowns passes in a season by a freshman.
Bradford looks to bring another National Championship this season after falling to the Florida Gators in the title game last year.
Brad Smith: Quarterback, Missouri Tigers
While most people will give credit to Chase Daniels for the recent successes by Missouri football but it was Smith that started the turn around. Smith was a four year starter while with the Tigers and was a Heisman contender his senior year.
Smith set a NCAA record for most yards gained by a freshman quarterback in a season with 1,029 yards on 193 rushes. Smith is also the only freshman quarterback to gain 2,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing with 2,333 passing yards and 1,029 rushing yards.
Smith was drafted by the New York Jets in the fourth round in 2006 after his college career was over.
Jeremy Maclin: Wide Receiver, Missouri Tigers
Maclin was one player who could do just about everything offensively for the Tigers. Maclin was a threat to score anywhere on the field.
Maclin set two NCAA records for all purpose yardage the first for a season. Maclin yardage goes as the following 375 rushing, 1,055 receiving, 1,039 kickoff returns, 307 punt returns for a total of 2,776.
Maclin also hold the record for most all purpose yards per game for a season. He averaged 198.3 yards per game his freshman season.
Maclin chose to forgo his final two years and enter the NFL draft where he was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the first round with the 19th overall pick.
Adrian Peterson: Running Back, Oklahoma Sooners
Peterson just about accomplished everything a player could in college. He was a Heisman contender, was a Doak Walker finalist, and played in a National Championship game.
Peterson’s freshman season saw him set three NCAA records. The first was for the most consecutive games rushing for 100 yards or more by a freshman with 9 games.
Peterson also set the record for most games with 100 yards or more in season by a freshman with 11 games. He also set the record for most carries by a freshman with 339 carries for 1,925 yards.
Peterson left school early after one of the best bowl games ever in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl against Boise State. He was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the first round with the seventh pick in the 2007 draft.
Luke McCown: Quarterback, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
McCown had a freshman season that could be seen as one of the best ever for a freshman quarterback. He set four freshman records in the 2000 season for the Bulldogs.
McCown attempted the most passes by a freshman in a game with 72 attempts and completed 42 against Miami. He also set the record for most completions in a game with 47 completions out of the 65 attempted against Auburn.
McCown also tied (Bob Hoernschemeyer also holds the record for Indiana in 1943) the freshman record most touchdown passes by a freshman in a game with six against Louisiana-Lafayette. He also set the record for most plays by a freshman in a game with 80 against Miami (that record has since been tied by Tim Hiller of Western Michigan) in 2000.
McCown name is still all over the Louisiana Tech record book in his four years playing for the Bulldogs. McCown was drafted into the NFL after his college career was over in the fourth round by the Cleveland Browns.
Michael Crabtree: Wide Receiver, Texas Tech Red Raiders
Crabtree can be thought of as one of the best wide receivers to play college football and he gave us are first look his freshman season. Crabtree would set four freshman records his first season at Texas Tech.
Crabtree set the record for most yards gained by a freshman in a season with 1,962 yards and he sets the record for yards per game as well with 150.9 yards a game. He would set the record for most touchdown passes caught in a season with 22 touchdowns.
Crabtree would also set the record for most passes caught by a freshman with 134 receptions for 1,962 yards. He would also set the record per game with 10.3 receptions a game.
Crabtree would nearly lead Texas Tech to a National Championship his final season with the Red Raiders. He would leave school after the 2008-09 season and would be drafted in the first round by the San Francisco 49ers with the 10th overall pick.
Marshall Faulk: Running Back, San Diego State Aztecs
Faulk could be considered one of the greatest running backs in college football history. Faulk burst on to the college football world in dramatic fashion in 1991 setting five freshman records.
Faulk set a record for most yards gained by a freshman in game with 386 yards against Pacific University on 37 rushes. Faulk would be one of five players (Emmitt Smith, Adrian Peterson, Jamario Thomas, and P.J. Hill) as the fastest freshman to reach 1,000 yards doing so in just seven games.
Faulk set the record for the most touchdowns scored by rushing in a game with seven against Pacific University, and the most rushing touchdowns in a season with 21. He also averaged the most touchdowns in season per game with 2.3 touchdowns per game.
Faulk would set the record for most yards gained by a freshman with 422 yards against Pacific once again. The yardage would come from 386 rushing, 11 receiving, and 25 kickoff return yards.
Faulk found the end zone enough to set the freshman record for most points scored in a game with 44 total points and a season with 140 total points. As well he holds the most points per game with 15.6 in only nine games.
Lastly, Faulk would set the record for most touchdowns scored in a game with seven against Pacific and most in a season with 23 touchdowns ( 21 rushing, 2 receiving), as well as the most per game with a 2.6 average in just nine games.
Some might have questioned the talent level Faulk played against in college but he left no doubt how good of a player he was after he left the Aztecs. Faulk would be drafted in the first round with the second overall pick in 1994 by the Indianapolis Colts.
While Faulk was a good player for the Colts it was his time with the St. Louis Rams that made him a superstar in the NFL. Faulk would help lead the Rams to two Super Bowls and would win one while playing for the greatest show on turf.
While this is not the complete list of freshman records it does show that there is a lot of freshman talent for most colleges. The way freshman have been getting more playing time many of these records could be broken by incoming freshman.
So keep this list handy when your teams super freshman steps on to the field this fall.