Freshman Watch List: LaMichael James the Best In the Nation?
Every year we see freshman players making big impacts on the football field. Michael Crabtree in 2007, Jacquizz Rodgers in 2008...but who's the top this year?
Even though many freshman make an impact for a team, not many get national recognition through award ceremonies and Heisman talk.
So who are the best freshman at this point in the year?
1. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
LaMichael James has been the workhorse of the Ducks offense ever since LeGarrette Blount was suspended. He has 918 yards and seven touchdowns on the season, with an additional 39 yards receiving. James has three straight games of 150 yards or more.
James ran for a season high 183 yards on 24 carries and a touchdown against USC. James has proved constantly that he's a great back, and he has many thinking Jacquizz Rodgers with his speed, elusiveness, and size.
The question for LaMichael James now is, when Blount returns, will his starting job disappear? Or will Chip Kelly do the right thing and not mess up the chemistry of the team?
2. Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple
Pierce has two straight 200 yard games putting him as the second best freshman in the nation. He ran for 212 yards on 40 carries against Toledo. A remarkable performance.
Why isn't he ahead of James you ask? Not bias, no. If James were to run 40 times against USC, running his average of 7.6, he would have over 300 yards. Better than Pierce's 212.
Still, Pierce is having a huge year and is the main reason Temple is starting to get votes for the top 25, and their 5-2 record.
Altogether he has 1,033 yards rushing, and has found the endzone 11 times.
3. Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh
Lewis has played the entire season, and is really impressing the nation with his running ability. Lewis has over 1000 yards on the season, and has three straight weeks of 100 or more yards rushing.
In addition to his 1,029 yards rushing, Lewis also has 11 touchdowns and 92 receiving yards with one receiving touchdown.
Against Rutgers he rushed for 180 yards and two scores. His most impressive game so far. He may pass up James by years end.
4. Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech
Williams and the rest of the Hokies have suffered two disappointing losses in a row, forcing them nearly out of the top 25. But freshman back Ryan Williams continues to keep Virginia Tech in games.
During the last game however, Williams made a costly fumble late in the game. He falls below LaMichael James, Dion Lewis, and Bernard Pierce due to his inconsistency, his disappointing fumble, and the fact that he isn't as good statistically as the top three.
He does however keep inching his way to the 1000 yard mark. Currently, Ryan Williams has 930 yards on 163 carries and 10 touchdowns. He also has 167 receiving yards and a touchdown reception.
5. Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
Keuchly had another fantastic game last weekend against Central Michigan, getting 11 tackles, and an interception (ran back for a touchdown). He's the dominant threat of the Eagles defense, and has been the leading tackler eight of the nine games.
In total, he has 94 tackles (58 solo), seven tackles for losses, and one interception.
He received ACC Player of the Week honors after the Central Michigan game, and will continue to pose a threat to defenses throughout the remainder of the season.
6. Matt Barkley, QB, Southern California
He played poorly against Oregon. Barkley mentioned the crowd wouldn't get to him...he had to use two worthless timeouts, one coming in the first four minutes of the game.
His stats however are still above the average. Barkley threw for 187 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception.
Notre Dame was by far his most impressive week when he threw for 380 yards and two touchdowns.
Matt seems to have lost his touch that he had when the season began. Still the best freshman quarterback in the country, but not as good as the five already mentioned.
All together he has 1,727 yards on 118-199, 9-6 touchdowns/ interceptions, and -13 rushing yards.
On The Bubble:
Christine Michael, RB, Texas A&M; Ontario McCalebb, RB, Auburn; Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama; Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame.
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