November 29, 2005

Freshman All-America Team

The job of naming a freshman All-American team is getting harder with each passing season. The kids are getting better, and playing time is increasingly available.

Look at last year's team. There were some no-brainers. Running backs Adrian Peterson and Michael Hart? Come on! This year we had more than a dozen running backs with 700-plus yards to sort through.

Picking just four wide receivers was no picnic either. We feel certain Michigan's Mario Manningham and Cal's DeSean Jackson are future stars, but don't look for them on this team. The potential is loud and clear, but the numbers for this season just didn't speak volumes.

With the regular season nearly complete, it's time to announce the 2005 Freshman All-America Team, which is headlined by the Big 12 Conference. It has six players on our first team, followed closely by the SEC and Pac-10 with five each.

Five schools have multiple first-teamers: Arkansas, Cal, Nebraska, Oregon and Texas A&M. Otherwise our team represents a large cross section of teams throughout the country.

Without further ado, we're proud to present the 2005 Freshman All-America Team: 2005 Freshman All-America First Team
Offense Defense
QB: Drew Weatherford
6-3, 220, Florida State (RS)
Weatherford beat out fellow redshirt frosh Xavier Lee in camp and struggled out of the gate before settling in to complete 59.1 percent of his passes for 2,725 yards and 16 touchdowns.
DE: Steve Davis
6-2, 230, Minnesota (True)
Davis made good use of his speed off the edge to post 11 tackles for loss, including six sacks, in just nine games.
RB: Steve Slaton
5-10, 185, West Virginia (True)
A revelation since cracking the lineup, he has rushed for 838 yards (5.5 per carry) and a whopping 13 TDs and has added a pair of TD receptions.
DE: Barry Turner
6-3, 245, Nebraska (True)
Used almost exclusively as a pass rusher, he turned in six sacks for minus-46 yards and added six QB hurries.
RB: Darren McFadden
6-2, 210, Arkansas (True)'s top prospect in the state of Arkansas stayed home and starred for the Hogs.
DT: Mitch King
6-3, 250, Iowa (RS)
A tackling machine inside for the Hawkeyes with 34 solos, including 10 for losses.
WR: Sidney Rice
6-4, 191, South Carolina (RS)
You had to figure Steve Spurrier's offense would make a star of someone, and Rice caught on quickly to the tune of 58 receptions for 952 yards and a school-record 12 TD receptions.
DT: Chase Moline
6-1, 274, UCLA (True)
Has posted 24 total tackles, including 3.5 for losses, while playing in every game for the Bruins.
WR: Davone Bess
5-10, 187, Hawaii (True)
The numbers (85 receptions, 1,082 yards, 14 TDs) are a product of the system, but he's the real deal and could play for anyone.
LB: Anthony Felder
6-3, 225, California (True)
He started seven games for the Golden Bears and earned a reputation as a big hitter with 35 total tackles, including 23 solo.
TE: Chase Coffman
6-7, 220, Missouri (True)
Coffman started only two games but was a reliable target all season, latching onto 39 passes for 404 yards and three TDs.
LB: Zack Follett
6-2, 230, California (True )
Gives Golden Bears an exciting future at the position. Had 29 total tackles, including three for losses, and coaches believe he has a big upside.
OT: Max Unger
6-5, 291, Oregon (RS)
The redshirt out of Hawaii started all 11 games at left tackle for the Ducks and protects the blind side for the nation's sixth-ranked passing offense.
LB: Freddie Fairchild
6-2, 215, Arkansas (True)
Hope for the Hogs on defense with Fairchild's 51 total tackles, including 2.5 sacks.
OT: Yemi Babalola
6-4, 317, Texas A&M (RS)
The Texas product started all 11 games at right tackle and helped the Aggies produce two 100-yard rushers against Texas.
S: Kenny Phillips
6-2, 200, Miami (True)
A major factor for one of the nation's top-ranked defenses with 61 total tackles and an interception.
OG: Michael Oher
6-5, 330, Ole Miss (True)
A Rivals100 member a year ago, he started the final 10 games for the Rebels.
S: Patrick Chung
5-11, 197, Oregon (RS)
The numbers speak for themselves: 79 total tackles and three passes defensed.
OG: Antoine Caldwell
6-3, 296, Alabama (RS)
He started all 11 games for the Tide at left guard and was the National Freshman of the Week in Alabama's 31-3 drubbing of Florida.
CB: Justin King
6-0, 181, Penn State (True)
Entered college as's top-rated cover corner and didn't disappoint as teams steered away from his side of the field.
C: Eric Wood
6-4, 290, Louisville (RS)
He started every game in the middle for the Cardinals, one of the nation's top offensive teams.
CB: Aqib Talib
6-2, 180, Kansas (RS)
Had 49 total tackles and a pair of interceptions for one of the nation's most underrated units (20th in total defense).
Special Teams
P: Justin Brantly
6-3, 218, Texas A&M (True)
Another homegrown product, Brantly had a 43.2-yard average to rank 13th in the country.
K: Jordan Congdon
5-11, 180, Nebraska (True)
Congdon acclimated from high school in San Diego just fine, hitting on 18 of 22 field goals, including all three from 40 yards or longer.
PR: Joe Burnett
5-11, 180, Central Florida (True)
A starter at corner with five interceptions, Burnett also is one of the nation's leading punt returners (14.6-yard average on 25 returns).
KR: Brandon Tate
6-1, 185, North Carolina (True)
Tate averaged 26.3 yards per kickoff return and had a 96-yarder for a score against Utah.
All-purpose: Tyrell Sutton
5-9, 190, Northwestern (True)
Overlooked by several schools despite big high school numbers, Sutton signed with NU and led all freshmen in rushing (1,390 yards) and scoring (18 touchdowns) and had 37 receptions for 329 yards. Freshman All-America Second Team
Offense Defense
QB: Pat White
6-2, 185, West Virginia (RS)
This dual-threat QB emerged against Louisville and has been on a tear since. He has 698 rushing yards and 5 TDs and 619 passing yards and 6 TDs.
DE: Phillip Merling
6-5, 275, Clemson (RS)
Tigers coaches are saying Merling will start for the next three years. Playing in a veteran rotation, Merling had three tackles for losses, including two sacks.
RB: James Davis
5-11, 205, Clemson (True)
Posted 729 rushing yards and eight touchdowns and helped revive the Tigers running game.
DE: Bobby Greenwood
6-6, 245, Alabama (True)
A pass-rushing specialist, he tallied three sacks for minus-22 yards and five QB hurries for one of the nation's best defenses.
RB: Arian Foster
6-1, 211, Tennessee (RS)
Forced into the starting role when Gerald Riggs was injured, Foster didn't disappoint with 879 yards and five touchdowns.
DT: Jeff Owens
6-3, 280, Georgia (True)
Appeared in all 11 games, rotating on the interior for a solid Bulldogs defense. Posted a pair of sacks and two tackles for losses.
WR: James Hardy
6-7, 215, Indiana (RS)
A big target, Hardy proved to be a handful for Big Ten defenses all season with 61 receptions for 893 yards and 10 TDs.
DT: Rashaad Jackson
6-2, 270, Clemson (RS)
Showed flashes of his potential with 22 total tackles, including 16 solos.
WR: Earl Bennett
5-11, 195, Vanderbilt (True)
Bennett exploded in the second half of the season. He had 53 receptions in Vandy's last five games to finish with 79 for 876 yards and nine touchdowns.
LB: Rashad Bobino
5-11, 230, Texas (RS)
Had 43 total tackles including a pair of sacks for the No. 2 team in the country.
TE: Martellus Bennett
6-7, 248, Texas A&M (True)
The numbers (18 receptions, 162 yards, 3 TDs) are modest; the potential is off the charts.
LB: Michael Brown
5-11, 225, Duke (True)
A nose for the football led Brown to a team-high 92 total tackles, including 10 for losses, and he forced three fumbles.
OT: Kraig Urbik
6-6, 317, Wisconsin (RS)
Started every game for the Badgers at right tackle, making him an integral part of nation's 13th-ranked scoring offense.
LB: Braxton Kelley
6-2, 220, Kentucky (True)
Had 44 total tackles including 28 solos in the Wildcats' first seven games before going down for the season with a torn ACL against Mississippi State.
OT: Ryan Clady
6-6, 312, Boise State (RS)
Big and athletic, he started eight games for the nation's eighth-ranked scoring offense.
S: Courtney Greene
6-1, 180, Rutgers (True)
The Scarlet Knights got big-time support against the run from Greene, who had a team-high 104 total tackles including 4.5 for losses.
OG: Jonathan Luigs
6-4, 301, Arkansas (RS)
Started a majority of games at right guard, though he also moved over to center for a couple of starts for the SEC's leading rushing attack.
S: Demetrice Morley
6-0, 180, Tennessee (True)
Showed decent cover skills with an interception and a couple of passes defensed as well as 15 total tackles.
OG: Dallas Reynolds
6-4, 345, BYU (RS)
Has started every game at left guard for the Cougars alongside his brother Lance Jr., the senior starting center.
CB: Alphonso Smith
5-9, 185, Wake Forest (RS)
Smith was everywhere for the Demon Deacons with 52 solo tackles, including eight for losses, nine passes defensed and two blocked kicks.
C: David Washington
6-4, 295, Oklahoma State (RS)
Started every game in the middle and helped pave the way for fellow frosh Mike Hamilton, who rushed for 961 yards.
CB: Keenan Lewis
6-1, 180, Oregon State (RS)
With 45 total tackles and 11 passes defensed, Lewis showed the same potential coaches spotted in the spring when they made him a starter.
Special Teams
P: Chris Miller
6-2, 208, Ball State (RS)
Averaged 42.9 yards per punt to rank 11th in the nation.
K: Sam Swank
6-2, 206, Wake Forest (RS)
Made 19 of 24 field goals, including a 52-yarder. He was 6 of 8 from 40 yards and out.
PR: B.J. Hill
5-7, 170, Ball State (True)
Ranked 24th in the country with 11.1 yards per punt return, which is better on that area than USC's Reggie Bush.
KR: Felix Jones
6-0, 195, Arkansas (True)
He led the nation in kick return average at nearly 32 yards a pop. Had a 100-yarder for a touchdown against Mississippi State.
All-purpose: Ontario Sneed
6-0, 190, Central Michigan (True)
Sneed was a one-man wrecking crew for the Chippewas, rushing for 1,065 yards and eight TDs and catching 51 passes for 433 yards and another three touchdowns.

Action photos from Associated Press.

Bob McClellan can be reached at or at 615-507-3939.

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