October 16, 2009

Midseason report: Freshman All-America team

Rivals.com's midseason freshman All-America team features some not-so-usual suspects.

Through six weeks of the 2009 season, several unheralded freshmen are making the biggest impact.

Just take a look at wide receiver. True freshmen Julio Jones (Alabama), A.J. Green (Georgia) and DeAndre Brown (Southern Miss) made an instant impact last season. Of the receivers this year, two play on Tobacco Road and the third plays in the MAC.

That doesn't mean all the midseason freshman All-America selections were diamonds in the rough. Two were five-star prospects in the 2009 class and two redshirt freshmen were Rivals100 prospects in 2008.


QB Tate Forcier, Michigan
HIGH SCHOOL: San Diego Scripps Ranch
BUZZ: The unflappable Forcier has helped turn around the Michigan offense, leading a comeback against Notre Dame. He has passed for 988 yards and nine touchdowns while rushing for 180 and two scores.

RB Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech
HIGH SCHOOL: Manassas (Va.) Stonewall Jackson
BUZZ: The loss of 1,000-yard rusher Darren Evans hasn't hurt the Hokies. That's because Williams, who redshirted last season, leads the ACC with 734 yards and nine touchdowns. He has rushed for at least 100 yards in four of six games.

RB Dion Lewis, Pittsburgh
HIGH SCHOOL: Blairstown (N.J.) Blair Academy
BUZZ: Lewis has stepped into the position vacated by LeSean McCoy and leads all freshmen in rushing. Lewis has run for 738 yards and seven touchdowns.

WR Eric Page, Toledo
HIGH SCHOOL: Toledo (Ohio) Springfield
BUZZ: The leading freshman receiver in the nation has caught 41 passes for 640 yards and six touchdowns. He has caught more than 10 passes in a game twice this season.

WR Conner Vernon, Duke
HIGH SCHOOL: Miami Gulliver Prep
BUZZ: Vernon has caught 26 passes for 357 yards and two touchdowns, and he has broken out in recent weeks with 128 yards against Virginia Tech and 10 catches and a touchdown against N.C. State.

WR Chris Givens, Wake Forest
HIGH SCHOOL: Wylie (Texas) High
BUZZ: After suffering two torn anterior cruciate ligaments in high school and redshirting last season, Givens has emerged with 26 catches for 356 yards. He has five touchdown catches in his past four games.

T Tanner Hawkinson, Kansas
HIGH SCHOOL: McPherson (Kan.) High
BUZZ: The redshirt freshman has held his own alongside veterans on the offensive line. The Jayhawks rank fifth in the nation in passing offense and fourth in scoring offense.

T Jacolby Ashworth, Houston
HIGH SCHOOL: Lufkin (Texas) High
BUZZ: Ashworth had started at left tackle for the Cougars, who lead the nation in passing and total offense. But Ashworth, a redshirt freshman, will miss the rest of the season with an ankle injury suffered in last week's victory at Mississippi State.

G Barrett Jones, Alabama
HIGH SCHOOL: Memphis (Tenn.) Evangelical Christian
BUZZ: Jones, who redshirted last season, stepped in at one of the three vacant line positions for the Tide, who are 11th in the nation in rushing.

G David DeCastro, Stanford
HIGH SCHOOL: Bellevue (Wash.) High
BUZZ: One of two freshman starters on Stanford's line, DeCastro - a redshirt freshman - has helped pave the way for Toby Gerhart, the Pac-10's leading rusher.

C Peter Konz, Wisconsin
HIGH SCHOOL: Neenah (Wis.) High
BUZZ: Teams rarely hand the center position off to a freshman, but Konz - who redshirted last season - has been the exception. The Badgers lead the Big Ten in rushing.


E Nick Perry, USC
HIGH SCHOOL: Detroit King
BUZZ: Perry, a redshirt freshman, is one of the reasons USC's defense hasn't dropped off much from last season. Perry leads the Pac-10 with six sacks.

T Larry Black Jr., Indiana
HIGH SCHOOL: Cincinnati Wyoming
BUZZ: Black, a redshirt freshman, has played well for a Hoosiers team that is 3-3. He has six tackles for loss and 15 tackles overall.

T Jerel Worthy, Michigan State
HIGH SCHOOL: Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne
BUZZ: Michigan State's defense has struggled, but Worthy - who redshirted last season - has been steady. He has 4.5 sacks (tied for second in the Big Ten) and 17 tackles.

E Aldon Smith, Missouri
HIGH SCHOOL: Raytown (Mo.) High
BUZZ: After Mizzou lost two senior defensive ends, Smith - a redshirt freshman - has stepped in to lead the Tigers with five tackles for loss and three sacks.

LB Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State
HIGH SCHOOL: Corona (Calif.) Centennial
BUZZ: The five-star freshman has delivered on his promise right away. He is second on the Sun Devils with 26 tackles, recording five tackles for loss and two sacks.

LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College
HIGH SCHOOL: Cincinnati St. Xavier
BUZZ: Kuechly has stepped in to lead Boston College in tackles with 55, the second-most in the ACC. He also has five tackles for loss.

LB Mike Taylor, Wisconsin
HIGH SCHOOL: Ashwaubenon (Wis.) High
BUZZ: Taylor, a redshirt freshman, leads the Badgers with 43 tackles, including 6.5 for loss. He had an interception in a 38-30 victory over Michigan State.

CB Kenny Okoro, Wake Forest
HIGH SCHOOL: Greensboro (N.C.) Dudley
BUZZ: Okoro has two interceptions, and they came in wins over Stanford and N.C. State. He also has 16 tackles, three pass breakups and a forced fumble.

CB Greg Reid, Florida State
HIGH SCHOOL: Valdosta (Ga.) Lowndes
BUZZ: One of the few bright spots for a shaky Seminoles defense, Reid has two interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown against BYU. He's also a top punt and kick returner.

SS Drew Frey, Cincinnati
HIGH SCHOOL: Wilmington (Ohio) Clinton-Massie
BUZZ: Frey had two redshirt seasons because of injuries. He has 29 tackles, including 2.5 for loss.

FS Daren Bates, Auburn
HIGH SCHOOL: Olive Branch (Miss.) High
BUZZ: Bates has 30 tackles and an interception this season, and he's also a factor as a pass rusher, with three quarterback hurries.


K Ryan Lichtenstein, Syracuse
HIGH SCHOOL: Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway
BUZZ: Lichtenstein has made nine of his 10 field-goal attempts this season, including each of his four attempts from longer than 40 yards. His 41-yarder as time expired was the difference in a 37-34 victory over Northwestern.

P Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
HIGH SCHOOL: Mansfield (Texas) Summit
BUZZ: Sharp, a redshirt freshman, has averaged 47.7 yards per punt, and Oklahoma State is fifth in the nation in net punting (41.6 yards). He has put eight of his 19 punts inside the 20.

KR D.J. Monroe, Texas
HIGH SCHOOL: Angleton (Texas) High
BUZZ: Monroe, who redshirted last season, has returned two kickoffs for touchdowns and is averaging a national-best 51.5 yards per return.

PR Tracey Lampley, Southern Miss
HIGH SCHOOL: Waynesboro (Miss.) Wayne County
BUZZ: Lampley is sixth in the nation, averaging 16.9 yards per punt return. He also is a solid kick returner.

David Fox is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dfox@rivals.com.

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