2011 CFN All-Freshman Defensive Team
South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney
South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney
Posted Dec 9, 2011

Who were the best new defensive players in college football this season? Check out the 2011 CollegeFootballNews.com All-Freshman Defensive Team.

2011 All-Freshman Team

Defense & Special Teams

CFN All-Freshman Teams
- 2010 CFN All-Freshman Team | 2009 CFN All-Freshman Team 
- 2008 CFN All-Freshman Team | 2007 CFN All-Freshman Team
- 2006 CFN  All-Freshman Team | 2005 CFN  All-Freshman Team
- 2004 CFN  All-Freshman Team 

Write-ups By Richard Cirminiello

- 2011 CFN Freshman All-America Offense 
Defensive Freshman of the Year: LB Dion Bailey, USC
DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
The most ballyhooed recruit of 2011 proved worthy of all the attention, getting named SEC Freshman of the Year for his work on the vaunted Gamecocks defense. Coming off the edge with a rare combination of size and speed, the 6-6, 254-pound man-child registered 32 stops, 10 tackles for loss, six sacks and five forced fumbles. For Clowney, this fall was the ground floor of a career that's set to explode in 2012.

DT Dominic Appiah, Boston College
One of the few bright spots for the Eagles in 2011, Appiah really came on strong late in the season on the Heights. The 6-5, 285-pound tackle, with the hops of an end, started the final eight games for an improving D. Peaking with three tackles for loss and a pair of sacks in the upset of NC State, he has anchor potential up front for Boston College, a program with a recent history of sending interior linemen to the NFL.

DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
The Noles are just giddy about the future of Jernigan. And for good reason. Even as a reserve, the 6-3, 297-pound flashed his enormous upside potential by making 28 stops, six tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks from the interior. Powerful and explosive off the snap, he has the skill set to blow up plays from his tackle spot, and command double-teams once he adds a little more seasoning and experience.

DE Scott Crichton, Oregon State
Without a lot of warning, Crichton has blossomed into a gem for the Beavers. A modest recruit out of Tacoma, Wash., he performed as well as any Oregon State defender this fall. In fact, the Pac-12 honorable mention selection racked up 74 tackles, 14.5 stops for loss, six sacks and a school-record six forced fumbles. Athletic and assertive, he showed a penchant for getting off the snap quickly, and simply beating the opposing tackle to the backfield.

LB Dion Bailey, USC
The Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year—and all-league second-teamer—became the first Trojans rookie to lead the team in tackles since these kinds of records started being kept in 1954. Essentially a safety playing on the second level on the D, the 6-0, 200-pounder used his tremendous range and ferocity to intimidate opposing ballcarriers. He plays the game on the edge, a contagious demeanor that started rubbing off on his older teammates last fall.

LB A.J. Johnson, Tennessee
Even as the team crumbled around him, Johnson just kept getting better and better as his first campaign in Knoxville unfolded. The rare true freshman to start at linebacker for the Vols, he led all SEC rookies with 80 tackles and seven stops for loss. At 6-3 and 245 pounds, he already possesses the size and physicality to withstand the rigors of playing in the toughest conference in the country. With more reps—on the field and in the weight room—his ceiling at Tennessee will climb even higher.

LB Hayes Pullard, USC
Like Bailey, Pullard had 81 tackles in his debut, which means he, too, became the first USC frosh to lead the team in tackles since records started being kept over a half-century ago. He has outstanding instincts for such a young player, and a flair for the dramatic. The local recruit from Los Angeles delivered a season-high 14 stops, a sack and a forced fumble in the Trojans' upset of Oregon on Nov. 19.

CB Quandre Diggs, Texas
Diggs performed in his first season on campus as if he plans to be the stopper of the Longhorns' secondary over the next three years. A top recruit, he played like it as a nine-game starter, going on to be named the Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year. A 5-10, 200-pound bump-and-run corner, he has 48 tackles, four stops for loss, three picks and a UT-high 16 passes defended.

S Ibraheim Campbell, Northwestern
The big-hitting Campbell was one of this season's pleasant surprises in Evanston. Not only did he capture a starting gig at an early age, but he also has a team-best 89 tackles to go along with a pair of picks. The kid from Philadelphia has shown little brotherly love to opposing players in the Big Ten, deploying their airbags whenever the opportunity presented itself.

S Eric Rowe, Utah
Rowe is a quintessential Utes player; heady, somewhat overlooked and about to bloom into a very special player. A playmaker, who rarely makes mental mistakes, he made 66 tackles and broke up 10 passes from his free safety spot. A fluid and coachable athlete, he's on the verge of becoming the next in a growing line of Utah defensive backs who surges into a bigger spotlight, and the consciousness of NFL types.

CB Merrill Noel, Wake Forest
The Demon Deacons knew they were harboring a budding lockdown corner in Noel, but just about everyone else has been caught off guard by his rapid maturation. Not even a shoe-in to be a starter before the season began, he ended up tying for the nation's lead—and setting a school record—with 20 passes defended. A well-kept secret no longer, he's developing a reputation in pass coverage that'll encourage opposing quarterbacks to frequent the other side of the field.

Special Teams

PK Andre Heidari, USC
The Trojans needed a reliable placekicker this year, and Heidari certainly delivered. A model of consistency in his first season removed from high school, he missed only two kicks all year, while connecting from a long of 50 yards. The Groza Award semifinalist also provided unheralded support for the USC D by displaying excellent leg strength on kickoffs.

P Brad Wing, LSU
It took just one season of football at a local Baton Rouge high school for the Tigers staff to get a glimpse of Wing, a lifelong Australian Rules Football player. The 20-year-old, with the unorthodox style, has been quite a weapon for LSU. Not only does he have a booming leg, but he also punts with tremendous accuracy, often pinning opponents deep in their own territory. The Ray Guy Award semifinalist has quickly become a fan favorite in his new hometown.

Second Team

DE Marcus Rush, Michigan State
DT Andre Monroe, Maryland
DT Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina
DE Anthony Chickillo, Miami

LB Tra'Mayne Bondurant, Arizona
LB Dyshawn Davis, Syracuse
LB Denzel Perryman, Miami

CB Greg Henderson, Colorado
S Tevin McDonald, UCLA
S De'Ante Saunders , Florida
CB Demetrious Nicholson, Virginia

Special Teams

PK Mike Hunnicutt, Oklahoma
P Darragh O'Neill, Colorado

Honorable Mention

DE: Keith Bowers (Maryland), Aaron Lynch (Notre Dame), Art Norman (NC State), Josh Shirley (Washington), Dylan Wynn (Oregon State)

DT: Kerry Hyder (Texas Tech), Anthony Johnson (LSU), Wade Keliikipi (Oregon), Luther Maddy (Virginia Tech), George Uko (USC), Elkino Watson (South Florida),

LB: Stephone Anthony (Clemson), Serderius Bryant (Ole Miss), Lamar Dawson (USC), Sean Duggan (Boston College), Leighton Gasque (Middle Tennessee), Lorne Goree (Maryland), Jeremy Grove (East Carolina), Amarlo Herrera (Georgia), Eric Kendricks (UCLA), Curt Maggitt (Tennessee), Derrick Mathews (Houston), Desmond Morgan (Michigan), Jake Ryan (Michigan), Ryan Shazier (Ohio State), Lee Skinner (Buffalo), Yawin Smallwood (Connecticut), AJ Tarpley (Stanford), John Timu (Washington), David Wilkerson (Cal)

CB: Bashaud Breeland (Clemson), Blair Burns (Wyoming), Bryce Callahan (Rice), Blake Countess (Michigan), Terrance Mitchell (Oregon), Tevin Mitchell (Arkansas), Marcus Roberson (Florida), Bradley Roby (Ohio State), Tim Scott (North Carolina)

S: Ty-Meer Brown (Connecticut), Byron Jones (Connecticut), Mark Murphy (Indiana), Vinnie Sunseri (Alabama)

PK: Ty Long (UAB), Tony Miliano (Cincinnati), Jordan Williamson (Stanford)

P: Mike Sadler (Michigan State)

- 2011 CFN Freshman All-America Offense