2011 College Football Rankings: The 5 Most Talented True Freshmen in the Country
As the calendar has flipped over to November, we are officially in the heart of the college football season. At this point every single game is a must win, because one loss could be mean the end of a dream.
With only six undefeated teams left in the country, the national title picture is becoming a lot clearer.
Furthermore, the top two teams in all of college football, LSU and Alabama, face off this weekend in Tuscaloosa in what should be the game of the year. The winner of this contest likely will make their way to the title game, while the loser will be headed to the Sugar Bowl.
One player that will look to help his team win this game is LSU running back Kenny Hilliard. A year ago Hilliard was playing at Patterson High School, but now he is going to be competing on the nation's biggest stage.
Hilliard is just one of a number of first-year players who are proving invaluable to their teams.
In this slideshow I will rank the top five true freshmen in all of college football. These rankings will be based on how much potential these student athletes have shown in the early part of their college careers.
5. Braxton Miller
Regarded as one of the top high school quarterbacks in the nation last year, Braxton Miller chose to stay in his home state and take his talents to Columbus.
After Terrelle Pryor left Ohio State and Joe Bauserman struggled to start the season, Miller has earned the role as the team's starting quarterback.
While Miller has had to split time with Bauserman for most of the year, he has taken over all of the Buckeyes' quarterback duties over the last few weeks.
Even though he threw for under 100 yards in the two games in which he saw the most action, he has led his team to two victories and has had 133 rushing yards combined.
Miller is one of the fastest players on Ohio State's roster; once he improves his passing game, he can become one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country.
4. Jadeveon Clowney
A year ago Jadeveon Clowney was the top prospect in the entire country and the Defensive High School Player of the Year. After waiting months to commit to a school, he finally announced on February 14, his 18th birthday, that he would be attending South Carolina.
While he has not been given as many chances as he deserves, Clowney has shown promise in his first eight games as a defensive end for the Gamecocks.
Using his massive 6-foot-6-inch, 254-lb. frame, Clowney has amassed five sacks and 24 tackles in just a few months on the field.
Once Clowney is given a year or two to mature, he definitely will be recognized as one of the best defenders in the entire country.
3. Isaiah Crowell
Isaiah Crowell entered the recruiting process as the best running back and one of the most talented high school student athletes in the entire country.
A native of Columbus, Georgia, Crowell decided to make his way to Athens to play for the Bulldogs.
In his first eight games for Georgia, Crowell has proved to be a perfect fit with quarterback Aaron Murray and his team's offense. In fact, he has reached the 100-yard plateau three times during his short time as a Bulldog.
Although Crowell's career already has been tarnished by a failed drug test and a subsequent suspension, he still has a lot of time to convince the nation that he can be one of the best.
2. De'Anthony Thomas
After initially committing to stay in Los Angeles and play for USC, De'Anthony Thomas ditched the Trojans for the Ducks on National Signing Day.
Although he made a few mistakes in the team's opener against LSU, Thomas quickly showed that he made the right choice by becoming a part of Oregon's explosive offense.
Not only has he run for 340 yards and four touchdowns as the Ducks' No. 3 running back, but he also has become the team's leading receiver, catching 25 passes for 382 yards and six scores in his short college career. He filled in admirably when LaMichael James missed two games due to injury.
Thomas will be given time to further polish his skills as he sits behind James and Kenjon Barner. Once he becomes the full-time starter, he will be regarded as one of the best backs in the country.
1. Sammy Watkins
Considered a top-tier receiver during his high school days in Fort Myers, Sammy Watkins surprised many when he decided to take his talents to Clemson.
After the first nine games of his college career it appears that Watkins made the right choice.
He has built a great relationship with quarterback Tajh Boyd and has become one of the best receivers in the country.
Watkins has caught 64 passes for 978 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also has run for 133 yards on nine attempts.
With Heisman dark horse candidate Tajh Boyd in only his second season with the Tigers, Watkins could be headed towards superstardom as his trusted target.