2011 CFN All-Freshman Team
Where Did Scout Rank Them?
Which freshmen paid off right away last year?
While recruiting classes are supposed to build for
the future, these pickups became factors in their
first seasons. Some, like Clemson's Sammy Watkins,
were five-star superstars, but most were
afterthoughts or were just part of the haul. Check
out the CFN 2011 Freshman All-America team and where
Scout.com had everyone ranked and rated last
First Team Offense
QB Brett Smith, Wyoming, Scout.com 89th-ranked, two-star quarterback
It has been a meteoric rise for the rookie from Salem, Ore., who helped carry the Cowboys to an improbable 8-4 campaign, their best in over a decade. Smith entered 2011 with the right mix of athleticism and maturity to excel in his first year, leading by example as if he'd been in the system for three or four years. A real gamer, who'll fight for every first down, he's thrown for 2,495 yards and 18 touchdowns, adding 645 yards and 10 more scores on the ground.
RB Giovani Bernard, North Carolina, Scout.com 13th-ranked, four-star running back
Before the season began, Carolina wasn't quite sure who'd carry the load this fall. And then Bernard emerged from the ashes of a 2010 season that ended with a torn ACL. Showing no ill-effects from the injury, he went on to become the first Tar Heels back to rush for more than 1,000 yards since 1984. He's also scored 14 touchdowns, running with even more determination and quickness than prior to getting hurt.
RB De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon, Scout.com top-ranked, five-star cornerback
Even when playing in the shadows of veterans LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner, Thomas was able to showcase the skills that helped make him one of the most coveted athletes of 2011. Performing as if he was crafted in a Chip Kelly laboratory, the all-purpose gamebreaker has rushed for 440 yards, caught a team-high 42 passes for 571 yards and scored 16 touchdowns. A blur in open space, his cuts are so sharp, they often leave defenders helpless.
WR Marqise Lee, USC, Scout.com third-ranked, four-star safety
For the second straight year, Troy is home to one of the country's top young receivers. Last year, Robert Woods developed a bond with QB Matt Barkley. This fall, it was Lee's turn. The true freshman took advantage of the attention his teammate was getting by catching 73 passes for 1,143 yards and 11 touchdowns. Adapting to the speed of the game as the season progressed, the long ball hitter was virtually unstoppable throughout a torrid month of November.
WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson, Scout.com fifth-ranked, five star wide receiver
A star was born this fall in Death Valley. Watkins is one of those rare athletes, who's going to stand out at every level of his career … and quickly. Just a few months removed from high school, he emerged as one of the game's most dynamic playmakers, catching 77 balls for 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns, while dazzling as a kick returner. Even better, he's a student of the game, a blend of mind and body that's going to torment the rest of the ACC for at least the next two seasons.
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington, Scout.com second-ranked, five-star tight end
The Huskies are ecstatic they kept Seferian-Jenkins in state, when he could have attended just about any school on the West Coast. A 6-6, 258-pounder, with rare athleticism for his size, he earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 by catching 36 passes for 479 yards and six touchdowns. How versatile is the first year player? He's considering trying out for the U-Dub basketball team once his team is done playing in the Valero Alamo Bowl.
OL A.J. Cann, South Carolina, Scout.com third-ranked, four star center
Cann put down the foundation of an All-SEC career down the road, starting every game this season at left guard. A ferocious competitor at the point of attack, he uses his hands well, and will battle on every play until the whistle blows. Once his pass protection skills catch up to his run blocking skills, he'll be that much closer to becoming a complete blocker up front in Columbia.
OL Kaleb Johnson, Rutgers, Scout.com 47th-ranked, three-star guard
By the end of August, Johnson was a fixture on the Knights two-deep. By early December, he'd morphed into one of the top young tackles in America. A prospect Rutgers went to Florida to land, he started the final 10 games on the right side. At 6-4 and 298 pounds, he's a mobile big man, with the light feet to develop further into a top-flight pass protector in Piscataway.
OL Cameron Fleming, Stanford, Scout.com 52nd-ranked, three-star tackle
Fleming did his part to ensure that the Cardinal offense stayed on track, despite a few changes up front. The imposing 6-6, 307-pounder from Houston started all but two games, earning honorable mention All-Pac-12 recognition for his work. A budding pass protector, he could take over on the left side in 2012 if Jonathan Martin decides to leave early for the NFL Draft.
OL Marcus Martin, USC, Scout.com 20th-ranked, three-star guard
Martin emerged as the starting left guard in the Week 3 defeat of Syracuse, and never looked back. The 6-3, 340-pound rookie brought some much-needed physicality and attitude to the front wall, especially in the running game. He's a true pile-driver, able to occupy multiple blockers on a play, and create large windows of daylight for the Trojans running backs.
OL David Yankey , Stanford, Scout.com 44th-ranked, three-star tackle
Like Fleming, Yankey played beyond his years in his first season of action. He, too picked up honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors, starting every game at left guard for the nation's fifth-ranked scoring offense. The Roswell, Ga. product has the physical make-up of a tackle, yet has packed on the requisite weight needed to excel in traffic as a punishing run blocker.
First Team Defense
DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina, Scout.com top-ranked, five-star defensive end
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, Scout.com unranked, three-star defensive tackle
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, Scout.com fourth-ranked, five-star defensive tackle
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, Scout.com 128th-ranked, two-star defensive end
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, Scout.com 29th-ranked, three-star safety
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, Scout.com 16th-ranked, four-star linebacker
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, Scout.com sixth-ranked, four-star linebacker
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, Scout.com 21st-ranked, four-star cornerback
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, Scout.com 87th-ranked, three-star running back
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, Scout.com 57th-ranked, three-star safety
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, Scout.com 68th-ranked, three-star cornerback
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.
PK Andre Heidari, USC, Scout.com second-ranked, three-star kicker
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, Scout.com unranked, two-star punter
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.
QB Braxton Miller, Ohio State, Scout.com second-ranked, five-star quarterback
RB Isaiah Crowell, Georgia, Scout.com top-ranked, five-star running back
RB Lyle McCombs , Connecticut, Scout.com unranked, two-star running back
WR Titus Davis, Central Michigan, Scout.com unranked, two-star wide receiver
WR Matt Miller, Boise State, Scout.com 92nd-ranked, three-star wide receiver
TE Randall Telfer, USC, Scout.com fifth-ranked, four-star tight end
OL Reese Dismukes, Auburn, Scout.com fifth-ranked, four-star center
OL Hroniss Grasu, Oregon, Scout.com ninth-ranked, three-star center
OL Chaz Green, Florida, Scout.com eighth-ranked, four star tackle
OL Bobby Hart, Florida State, Scout.com fourth-ranked, five-star tackle
OL Travis Jackson , Michigan State, Scout.com 59th-ranked, three-star guard
DE Marcus Rush, Michigan State, Scout.com 60th-ranked, three-star defensive end
DT Andre Monroe, Maryland, Scout.com 86th-ranked, three-star defensive tackle
DT Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina, Scout.com unranked, four-star defensive tackle
DE Anthony Chickillo, Miami, Scout.com third-ranked, five-star defensive end
LB Tra'Mayne Bondurant, Arizona, Scout.com unranked, two-star cornerback
LB Dyshawn Davis, Syracuse, Scout.com unranked, three-star wide receiver
LB Denzel Perryman, Miami, Scout.com 17th-ranked, four-star linebacker
CB Greg Henderson, Colorado, Scout.com unranked, two-star cornerback
S Tevin McDonald, UCLA, Scout.com 20th-ranked, four-star cornerback
S De'Ante Saunders , Florida, Scout.com 37th-ranked, three-star cornerback
CB Demetrious Nicholson, Virginia, Scout.com third-ranked, four-star cornerback
PK Mike Hunnicutt, Oklahoma, Scout.com 17th-ranked, two-star kicker
P Darragh O'Neill, Colorado, Scout.com unranked, no-star punter