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2013 Preseason All-Redshirt Freshman Team
Florida State QB Jameis Winston
Florida State QB Jameis Winston
Posted Jul 31, 2013

What redshirt freshmen appear to be ready to step up and become major factors? Which new stars are about to blossom and become a new star. Check out the CFN 2013 Preseason All-Redshirt Freshman Team.

Preview 2013

All-Redshirt Freshman Team

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CFN All-Redshirt Freshman Teams
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- 2013 CFN All-Redshirt Freshman Defense 

By Richard Cirminiello 

For hundreds of true freshmen in every corner of the map, last season was likely the most frustrating one of their athletic careers. Of course, there was plenty of development and maturation taking place, both physically and intellectually, but there were no games to be played, no popping of pads on Saturdays and no box scores containing their names.

For a number of reasons, these idle warriors were redshirted in 2012, with the expectation that they’d return this summer a little thicker, a little stronger and a lot better prepared to begin paying dividends for all of those recruiting trips, phone calls and text messages during the courtship process.

Redshirt freshmen are college football enigmas. While hardly the same young men they were on Signing Day 18 months ago, have they truly bloomed enough to be every-down contributors this fall? As is often the case, it all depends on the athlete under the microscope and the openings on the depth chart.

QB Zach Kline, Cal
Former head coach Jeff Tedford’s gift to the new staff in Berkeley is a cupboard of young arms headed by Kline. The 6-2, 210-pound former four-star recruit has competition, but is expected to become Sonny Dykes’ new triggerman of the Bear Raid Attack. Kline is precocious, equipped with a strong arm and the ability to connect on the move. If he can smooth out some of the wrinkles in his reads and his decisions, the opportunity is in place to hang up big numbers in the new passing game.

QB Jameis Winston, Florida State
Now that EJ Manuel is now a Buffalo Bill, and Clint Trickett is West Virginia Mountaineer, a new era in Tallahassee is set to begin with Winston under center. The 6-4, 218-pounder, who’s also a member of the FSU baseball team, began to show in the spring why he was the nation’s top quarterback recruit of 2012, flashing a powerful arm, excellent athleticism and uncommon poise for an untested player. The sky is the limit for Winston, whose ceiling is higher than Manuel’s was five years ago.

RB Riley Bullough, Michigan State
When Mark Dantonio released his initial preseason depth chart a few weeks ago, Bullough was surprisingly listed on top at running back. Heck, the 6-2, 230-pounder redshirted in 2012 as a linebacker, the same position played by big brother Max. He’s a blue-collar, north-south type runner in the mold of former Spartan Jehuu Caulcrick, but he also has the athleticism to hurdle over the pile for more yards. While Bullough will face even more competition from rookies in August, he’s clearly carved out a key role in the offense for 2013.

RB Trey Edmunds, Virginia Tech
The Hokies are searching for a replacement for David Wilson … still. For a change, Tech didn’t have a feature back in 2012, that workhorse who could carry the ground game. Edmunds is practicing hard to be that guy in Blacksburg. His blend of power and explosiveness was one of the storylines of the spring session. So tough and physical is Edmunds that the defensive coaches have been lobbying to get him to play linebacker. The 6-1, 215-pounder remains raw, but his upside potential is becoming impossible to overlook.

RB Mario Pender, Florida State
While Pender isn’t going to start in Tallahassee in 2013, the graduation of Chris Thompson means that the rookie is about to move up in the pecking order. The sixth-ranked high school running back of 2012 was shut down for all of last season because of a groin injury, but he’s healthy again and ready to contribute. What separates Pender from teammates James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman is the elite speed to crank out homeruns whenever he gets a little daylight.

WR Chris Black, Alabama
The Tide lamented the loss of Black to a season-long shoulder injury prior to the start of 2012. It might have been the best thing for the blue-chipper from Jacksonville, Fla. He used the time away from the field to get stronger, one of the only knocks on him coming out of high school. Black arrived to Tuscaloosa with more fanfare than heralded teammate Amari Cooper, and was pushing for playing time following a breakthrough first spring. He’s a big-time playmaker ready to give QB AJ McCarron another weapon through the air.

WR Germone Hopper, Clemson
Yeah, Hopper was listed on the second team on the post-spring depth chart, but he’s going to play a bunch in his first season of action. The Tigers are in the market for playmakers in the passing game to complement Sammy Watkins, especially now that DeAndre Hopkins is a Houston Texan. Hopper benefitted from his redshirt year, gaining a better grasp of Chad Morris’ offensive system. And the 6-0, 170-pound rookie has the explosive tendencies to be used by Morris in myriad different ways.

WR Kenny Lawler, Cal
The Bears are excited to get their first really good look in a game setting at Lawler, a 6-3, 185-pounder who used last fall to get bigger and stronger in the weight room. The former four-star gem from Upland (Calif.) High School boasts a dynamic set of physical attributes, from his length to his leaping ability, and has been a fluid target throughout the offseason. One of the breakout stars of the spring is determined to kickstart his career, while complementing young teammates Bryce Treggs and Chris Harper on the outside.

TE Sean Culkin, Missouri
Mizzou has had a lot of success with its tight ends over the years, a trend Culkin appears poised to further in 2013 and beyond. Modestly recruited coming out of high school, he was a very pleasant surprise during the offseason, standing out as the Tigers’ best pass-catcher at the position. The 6-6, 245-pound Culkin has good size, works hard and moves extremely well for such a big target. The staff has even used him some in the slot, an indication of how strongly it feels about his potential as a weapon through the air.

TE Taylor McNamara, Oklahoma
Whether or not McNamara starts might not ultimately impact his first-year production. In the passing game, he’s the Sooners’ clear-cut best option at tight end. The heralded recruit from San Diego was set to burn his redshirt in 2012 before a shoulder injury required surgery. He wound up appearing in two games and regaining the season as a medical hardship. Difficult to miss at 6-5 and 253 pounds, McNamara is also the kind of sure-handed receiver who’ll encourage the OU quarterbacks to search him out on third downs.

OL Adam Bisnowaty, Pittsburgh
In Bisnowaty, the Pitt brass has become increasingly optimistic about one of its young tackles. The 6-6, 300-pounder is an agile athlete, good news as he prepares to protect the blindside of QB Tom Savage. Bisnowaty has all but locked up a starting job with his growth in the offseason. He’s a former wrestler, who blocks with the leverage, punch and nasty streak that the coaches really like. Obviously, there’s a lot to learn, but he could be an anchor up front for the Panthers and head coach Paul Chryst for the next few years.

OL Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M
Ifedi spent the spring solidifying his role as the successor to Cedric Ogbuehi at right guard. The first-year player was among the most impressive of the young Aggies blockers throughout the offseason, routinely blowing open holes for the team’s backs. Ifedi was a four-star recruit out of Houston, originally grabbing the staff’s attention with his strength, tenacity and ability to bully opponents off the ball. The 6-5, 311-pounder has the potential to become a four-year starter and an All-Big 12 performer at some point during his promising career.

OL Kyle Kalis and Ben Braden, Michigan
Two individual players, but they’re going to be linked together for the next four years. Kalis and Braden are set to take over at left and right guard, respectively, forming the foundation of the future for the Michigan interior. Kalis was the more decorated of the pair, a five-star gem who really turned the corner once the calendar flipped to 2013. Braden is no slouch, a 6-6, 314-pounder who blocks with a chip on his shoulder. Kalis and Braden could become to the guards what seniors Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield are to the tackles.

OL Caleb Peterson, North Carolina
All Peterson is being asked to do in his first year is to replace All-American OG Jonathan Cooper, a first-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals last April. No small challenge, but Carolina feels as if Peterson has the right make-up and skill set to gradually flourish as the successor. The 6-5, 300-pound native of Auburn, Ala. held offers from the Tigers and the Tide, yet decided to become a Tar Heel a year ago. In the early going, Peterson will lean on his size, power and assertiveness as a no-nonsense run blocker.

OL Dan Voltz, Wisconsin
It’s early, of course, but there’s little doubt around campus that Voltz will emerge as the next in a growing line of outstanding Wisconsin centers. He succeeds Travis Frederick, who replaced Peter Konz, both of whom went on to become high NFL draft choices. Voltz came close to playing in 2012 when injuries struck, but he was able to preserve his redshirt year. He’s packed on more than 30 good pounds since arriving, and brings the right amount of smarts and physicality to excel as the starter.

OL Cody Waldrop, South Carolina
T.J. Johnson was a four-year starter at the pivot in Columbia before being drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals. Waldrop is determined to give the Gamecocks the same kind of long-term stability at the position. He’s adjusting to the nuances of being a center, especially snapping the ball, after mostly playing guard in high school. While Waldrop will need time to get comfortable in the lineup, the staff really likes the mean streak and the physicality that he brings to the unit.

OL Chad Wheeler, USC
Without any advanced warning, the Trojans have a heated competition for the right tackle job. Incumbent senior Kevin Graf appeared to be a sure-thing to be back in the lineup for a third year—and still might be—but currently has an “OR” between his name and that of the 6-7, 270-pound Wheeler. Is it a motivational tactic, or is Wheeler truly on the verge of a shocking upset? Graf has been a steady blocker throughout his career, but the staff has made a statement that it’s not afraid to hand the job to Wheeler.

- 2013 CFN All-Redshirt Freshman Defense