College Football: 10 Best Freshmen Performances From Week 1

Sam OlesonCorrespondent ISeptember 6, 2010

College Football: 10 Best Freshmen Performances From Week 1

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    After months of anticipation, opening weekend in college football has come and gone. As expected, college football fans saw their fair share of great games (along with blowouts) and individual performances.

    One of the more interesting things to watch on opening weekend is the play of freshmen stepping onto a college football gridiron for the first time in their lives. Undoubtedly a rattling experience, some freshmen step up to the challenge, while others need a little more time to adjust.

    Here are 10 freshmen who proved right out of the gates that they are ready to play at the college level.

    Note: No defensive players were included in this list. Also, the Boise State-Virginia Tech wasn't taken into account.

    *photo courtesy of

Taylor Martinez, Nebraska

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    Earning the start over Zac Lee at quarterback to begin Nebraska's 2010 campaign, freshman Taylor Martinez showed exactly why Bo Pelini decided to give him the nod.

    Although his passing numbers (9-15, 136 yards) weren't spectacular, Martinez more than made up for it with his feet, running for 127 yards and three touchdowns against the hapless Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.

    If Martinez can continue that kind of play, he'll be starting for the Cornhuskers all year long.

    *photo courtesy of Husker Locker

Le'Veon Bell, Michigan State

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    As a freshman going into your first season playing college football, you hope to get off to a quick start.

    Michigan State freshman running back Le'Veon Bell couldn't really ask for much more. On Saturday against Western Michigan, Bell rushed for 141 yards on only 10 carries and scored two touchdowns as the Spartans throttled the Broncos.

    Although he'll be splitting time at halfback in 2010, Bell could still put up some big numbers for the Spartans.

    *photo courtesy of Michigan State football

Keenan Allen, California

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    Proving to be an all-around threat in Cal's demolition of UC Davis, freshman wide receiver Keenan Allen could make some serious noise in the Pac-10 in 2010.

    On opening weekend, Allen caught four passes for 120 yards (scoring a touchdown in the process) and also rushed twice for 18 yards.

    All-purpose players are incredibly valuable, and it appears as though the Golden Bears may have stumbled upon one of the nation's up-and-comers.

    *photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated

Marquess Wilson, Washington State

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    Although Washington State didn't exactly get off to the start they may have desired in 2010 with their blowout loss to Oklahoma State, a bright spot in the form of freshman wide receiver Marquess Wilson did emerge.

    In the 65-17 loss, Wilson hauled in four catches for 108 yards and a touchdown.

    Although the Cougars won't get too much national coverage in 2010, if Wilson can keep it up, he certainly could.

    *photo courtesy of The Spokesman-Review

Deantre Lewis, Arizona State

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    Although he carried the ball only five times on Saturday, Arizona State freshman running back Deantre Lewis certainly had an impact for the Sun Devils.

    No, it wasn't in the running department that Lewis shined. Along with his 24 yards and one rushing touchdown, Lewis caught three passes for 100 yards and scored another two touchdowns.

    With both his running and catching ability, Lewis has the potential to be one of the most exciting players in the country.

    *photo courtesy of HS Game Time

Robert Bolden, Penn State

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    The big mystery going into the 2010 season for Penn State was who was going to be the starting quarterback.

    Well, if Saturday is any indication, there should be no doubt about who the Nittany Lions will have under center.

    Although it was only against Youngstown State, freshman Robert Bolden performed admirably, completing 20 of 29 passes for 239 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

    It appears as though Joe Pa made the right choice.

    *photo courtesy of

Tyler Russell, Mississippi State

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    Maybe the most impressive freshman on opening weekend, Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell looked like a senior with his efficient, mistake-free play.

    In the Bulldogs' 49-7 win over Memphis, Russell completed 13 of 16 passes for 256 yards and four touchdowns. Oh, and no interceptions.

    Now, the SEC won't be as kind to Russell as the Tigers, but Russell still seems poised to be one of the better freshman quarterbacks in the country in 2010.

    *photo courtesy of

Eddie Lacy, Alabama

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    Undoubtedly aided by the absence of Mark Ingram, Alabama freshman running back Eddie Lacy looked impressive on Saturday nonetheless.

    On only 13 carries, Lacy rumbled for 111 yards and a couple touchdowns in 'Bama's 48-3 romp of San Jose State.

    Now, when Ingram returns, playing time will go down significantly for Lacy. But, on Saturday at least, he was exactly what the Crimson Tide needed.

    *photo courtesy of

Erick Solis, Oregon

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    Oregon freshman kicker Eric Solis certainly had his share of opportunities on Saturday to prove to Chip Kelly that he was ready to be an FBS kicker. A 72-0 score keeps a kicker busy, that's for sure.

    Although Solis did miss a field goal from inside 30 yards, he rebounded to make three other field goals and all nine extra point attempts.

    Although kickers don't get a whole lot of recognition, they are incredibly important, especially if they aren't consistent. If Solis can maintain that consistency, he'll rack quite a few points as the kicker for the Ducks' prolific offense.

    *photo courtesy of

Orleans Darkwa, Tulane

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    Although Tulane freshman running back Orleans Darkwa didn't put up huge numbers (19 rushes, 75 yards) in the Green Wave's victory over Southeastern Louisiana, he did what counted the most. He scored.

    Three times Darkwa found the end zone, and that proved incredibly important as Tulane barely squeaked by their FCS opponent 27-21.

    Although Tulane won't make a whole lot of headlines in 2010, Darkwa could certainly generate some national recognition if he can keep up that kind of play.

    *photo courtesy of