A Collection of Freshman to Familiarize Yourself with in College Football
2009 has been a year for breakout performances by freshman quarterbacks, freshman running backs, and freshman everywhere else.
Two of the top six rushers in the nation are freshman.
Meanwhile, more freshman are guiding some of the upstarts in college football to an incredible season thus far, including USC quarterback Matt Barkley and Cincinnati outside linebacker Walter Stewart.
This may be a glimpse into what the future of college football has in store for all of us fans while at the same time giving us a collection of noteworthy freshman having a noteworthy season.
QB Matt Barkley - USC Trojans
The USC Trojans are undefeated when Matt Barkley, a true freshman, is their starting quarterback. Too bad he was too injured to play at Washington or the Trojans themselves still might be undefeated overall.
In that loss, we seen the true value of Barkley.
He is not looking as prolific as USC quarterbacks of the past--Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, and Mark Sanchez, but he is still moving the chains and keeping the opposing defense on their toes.
Barkley's statistics may not make anyone say "wow" but his composure if worth noting. He did not get rattled by traveling into Ohio State and beating the Buckeyes earlier in September.
QB B.J. Daniels - USF Bulls
South Florida quarterback B.J. Daniels exploded onto the scene when then incumbent Matt Grothe went down with a season-ending injury.
In his first start, Daniels marched into Tallahassee and led the Bulls to its first ever win over the Florida State Seminoles.
While his mechanics need some work, Daniels can beat any defender with his feet.
Daniels has passed for over 200 yards in each of his starts this season while rushing for more than 100 yards in two of his starts.
RB Bryce Brown - Tennessee Volunteers
This highly touted running back coming out of high school is still a back-up but next year he will be given full reign over the ground attack at Rocky Top.
Brown has only rushed for 100 yards or more in just one game this season (Western Kentucky) but his instinctive and aggressive running attack is promising.
As the season wears on, we will get to see more of a Brown/Montario Hardesty committee in order to keep the legs fresh at Tennessee.
Brown has been involved somewhat in the passing game. He has shown reliable hands in limited opportunities but we would like to see more.
RB Ryan Williams - Virginia Tech Hokies
Virginia Tech freshman running back Ryan Williams is one of the most productive runners in all of college football.
As a matter of fact, he is a mainstay in the Heisman Trophy discussion despite the fact that it is extremely difficult for a freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. Just ask Adrian Peterson.
Still, he has totaled more than 100 yards in every game but one this season.
Ryan Williams is arguably the most sound running back in all of America.
RB Onterio McCalebb - Auburn Tigers
This freshman running back has been part of the reason why Auburn jumped out to a great start on the season this year.
Onterio McCalebb came out of nowhere to rush for more than 100 yards in the first two weeks of the season despite being the backup to starting running back Ben Tate.
He has a knack for the end zone, rushing for four touchdowns in six games.
McCalebb is also averaging nearly 25 yards per kick return.
His 6 yards per carry average is one of the best in the Southeastern Conference.
RB Dion Lewis - Pittsburgh Panthers
Thus far, fans in Pittsburgh are quickly forgetting a guy named LeSean McCoy. As long as Dion Lewis continues to be one of the most productive runners in college football, Pitt fans will be joyous.
Lewis is averaging 5.83 yards per carry in a pro-style offense at Pitt.
Although he is a bit on the smaller side, reminiscent of LaRod Stephens-Howling, he has proved to be a decent blocker in picking up the blitz.
The Pittsburgh Panthers may not be a national contender but they continue to produce great college football players and it appears that Dion Lewis is following in the footsteps of LeSean McCoy and Larry Fitzgerald.
RB LaMichael James - Oregon Ducks
LaMichael James was one of the freshman running backs entering 2009 that we all had high hopes for. The thing is that we weren't expecting to see him produce at a high level until 2010.
That was until LeGarrette Blount decided to play Mike Tyson and strike a Boise State player after the season opener.
James has started in five games since and versus the three best defenses in those five games came his 100-yards or more rushing performances.
His future is bright at Oregon where recently running backs have come out and been successful on Sunday's as well.
RB Bernard Pierce - Temple Owls
Since taking the bulk of the carries away from then starting tailback Kee-ayre Griffin, Bernard Pierce has rushed for 100 yards or more in three straight outings.
Since joining the Mid-American Conference, the Temple Owls have been slowly rebuilding their program to a respectable level.
With a multitude of young talent at their disposal, the sky is the limit.
One of these days, the Owls will roll into Penn State and knock off the Nittany Lions. Bet on it. They will do so because of players like Pierce.
His body of work is impressive overall. From averaging more than five yards per carry to scoring five touchdowns in the last three games.
One can not deny the impact that Pierce has had on Temple and the MAC and soon enough it will resonate to where he will start receiving attention on the national level. It may not be this year but it could be next year.
WR Uzoma Nwachukwu - Texas A&M Aggies
Suddenly, the Texas A&M Aggies are like the other high-powered offenses in the Big 12. They have a passing attack.
Record-setting passer Jerrod Johnson can thank his lucky stars for freshman wide receiver Uzoma Nwachukwu.
Nwachukwu broke out at home versus Utah State with a 103-yard, 3-touchdown performance but he solidified himself as an elite freshman receiver with an 8-catch, 141 yards, 1-touchdown outing last week versus Oklahoma State.
The rest of the Big 12 has caught wind of what Nwachukwu is capable of some from here on out he will face more double-coverage but as he shown last week versus the Cowboys, he can easily split the defenders and create space downfield.
WR Chris Givens - Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Chris Givens has been a key proponent of the Wake Forest offense since the Demon Deacons dropped their season opener 24-21 to Baylor.
Since then, Wake Forest is 4-1 and Chris Givens has scored in four straight games.
He also has more than 100-yards receiving in his last two games.
Givens is eighth in the ACC in receiving thus far and should continue to improve on his overall statistics.
Finally, Givens is also averaging 21.5 yards per punt return.
DE Nick Perry - USC Trojans
The question of lacking a pass rusher has been answered in Southern California.
Freshman defensive end Nick Perry is off to a great start, tallying six sacks thus far in five games.
His seven tackles for a loss are impressive enough but what makes him so intriguing is that he makes the pass rushers around him even better by getting double-teamed.
Everything rolls downhill from there. Perry will be a staple defensively in college football for the present and future as the Trojans try to march to another national title.
DT Jerel Worthy - Michigan State Spartans
This freshman for the Spartans has eclipsed all expectations despite Michigan State's struggles in 2009.
Jerel Worthy, defensive tackle, already has 4.5 sacks and 6 tackles for a loss.
He is anchoring a Michigan State defensive line that is third in the Big Ten in run defense, behind only Penn State and Ohio State.
OLB Walter Stewart - Cincinnati Bearcats
Cincinnati entered 2009 with ten new starters on defense.
Amidst these worries, the No. 8 Bearcats have found themselves eradicating all doubt on defense thanks in part to freshman outside linebacker Walter Stewart.
Stewart has some room to grow. He actually looks like a strong safety but his quick blitzing and sense of awareness make him an elite linebacker.
As long as the Bearcats keep winning, you will begin to hear Stewart's name more often.
CB Greg Reid - Florida State Seminoles
Florida State freshman cornerback Greg Reid has been drawing comparisons to current Chicago Bears wide receiver Devin Hester.
It is because he is fast. Real fast.
Greg Reid is the defines "game breaker" in college football. He has two interceptions, one which he returned for a score.
He is also averaging 22-yards per punt return.
The future may not be so bright for head coach Bobby Bowden but the future is illuminating for Reid.
S Jermaine Robinson - Toledo Rockets
Last year, a freshman safety from the MAC broke out onto the scene. His name was Sean Baker and he hailed from Ball State.
This year it is Jermaine Robinson from Toledo.
Robinson is hard-hitting, fumble forcing playmaker that has 32 total tackles including 3 sacks and 5.5 tackles for a loss.
No defensive back in the nation has more sacks than Robinson. Alabama's cornerback Javier Arenas, a cornerback/safety hybrid with freakish skills has three as well though.
Robinson set his career high mark at tackles with six versus Ohio State.