2006 CFN Freshman All-America First Team

Posted Dec 12, 2006

Texas QB Colt McCoy leads our Third Annual CollegeFootballNews.com All-Freshman team.

Compiled by Richard Cirminiello 

Freshman All-America Second Team

Offensive Freshman of the Year: QB Colt McCoy, Texas
Defensive Freshman of the Year: S Taylor Mays, USC

*Indicates player is a true freshman

First Team

QB Colt McCoy, Texas – Asked to handle the toughest job of 2006, filling Vince Young’s shoes, McCoy calmly delivered 29 touchdowns, just seven interceptions and the fifth highest passer rating in the country.  Had he not suffered a stinger in the next-to-last game of the year, the Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year was firmly pointed toward a top 10 finish in the Heisman Trophy voting.

RB P.J. Hill, Wisconsin – Hill replaced Brian Calhoun far better than anyone could have imagined, running as if he and Ron Dayne had somehow been separated at birth.  The hulking All-Big Ten selection, who didn’t secure the job until the summer, rumbled for 15 touchdowns and 1,533 yards, which was good for No. 7 all-time by a Badger back. 

*RB C.J. Spiller, Clemson – Even as James Davis’ understudy, it was impossible to miss Spiller’s mercurial talents and big-play potential.  In just 143 touches, he’s already had six touchdowns of 50 yards or more, one shy of the Clemson career record.  Spiller’s 1,124 total yards, 12 touchdowns and conference-best 7.4 yards a carry landed him on the All-ACC second team.

*WR David Harvey, Akron – In an otherwise forgettable year for the Zips, Harvey was a shining light, parlaying ten touchdown receptions and a gaudy 21 yards per catch average into a spot on the All-MAC second team.  He’s a legit home-run hitter with Big Ten skills, who’ll spend the next three years honing them against Mid-American Conference secondaries.

*WR Percy Harvin, Florida – Others may have had better numbers, but Harvin is the best freshman receiver in the country this year.  Period.  Saddled with an ankle sprain much of the year, Urban Meyer still searched for ways to get the ball in his explosive teen’s hands.  Harvin was the MVP of the SEC Championship game, catching five balls for 62 yards and a touchdown and adding 105 yards and a score on six carries.    

*TE Cody Slate, Marshall – The Herd has had plenty of game-breaking wide receivers over the years, but never a tight end with Slate’s field-stretching ability.  He debuted with 43 catches for 684 yards and six touchdowns, despite being saddled with a very questionable situation at quarterback.

*OL Sergio Render, Virginia Tech – Render struggled early for the Hokies, but emerged as a force by November, parlaying six knockdowns into being named ACC Lineman of the Week after the Wake Forest win.  With 12 starts already under his belt, he’s a future star with great feet for such a big and powerful lineman.

OL Ciron Black, LSU – Black is a mountain of a young man, who more than adequately protected JaMarcus Russell’s blindside for all 12 Tiger games this year.  There’s no replacing four-year starter Andrew Whitworth, but LSU has wasted no time finding another potential four-year starter to anchor the left side of the line.  

*OL Andre Smith, Alabama – Just a few months removed from high school, Smith won the starting job at left tackle, flashing early signs this won’t be his last All-America team.  The 6-4, 350-pound road grader was as good as advertised in 2006, playing more snaps than any other ‘Bama offensive player, while laying the foundation for what should be a brilliant career.

*OL Sam Young, Notre Dame – You don’t just waltz into South Bend as a wide-eyed true freshman and command a starting job unless you’re something special.  Young is special.  He started all 12 games for the Irish, showing his youth from time to time, but generally displaying why he was one of the most sought after offensive lineman during last year’s recruiting cycle.

*OL Jason Fox, Miami – A high school tight end just one year ago, Fox started 11 games, allowing no sacks and grading out higher than any other Miami lineman.  He displayed uncommon versatility for a rookie, playing both right and left tackle after Reggie Youngblood was injured.  Like former ‘Cane tackle Erik Winston, he’s got all the intangibles of a future stud, needing only to add some bulk to his 6-6 frame.   

DL Corey Wootton, Northwestern – Wootton was set to be an impact player in 2005 when a September neck injury forced him to use a redshirt.  He more than made up for lost time in 2006, leading Wildcat defensive linemen in tackles and the entire defense with nine tackles for loss and 4½ sacks.  Wootton also became the first Northwestern player in 11 years to accomplish every defensive statistic, including two interceptions and a blocked kick.  

DL Sen’Derrick Marks, Auburn – Marks evolved into this year’s top freshman defensive tackle, starting all 12 games for the Tigers, while contributing 33 tackles, 8½ tackles for loss, 3½ sacks and three fumble recoveries.  He’s hardly a space-eater, relying instead on his quickness, athleticism and burst to make plays for negative yards. 

*DL Eric Norwood, South Carolina – The Gamecocks’ pass-rush specialist led the defense with seven sacks and five quarterback hurries during the regular season.  Of his 29 tackles, nine were for negative yards, a testament to his acceleration and upfield speed.  Once he adds a few more pounds of muscles, Norwood has the potential to be an every down contributor on Tyrone Nix’s defense.

DL Jeffrey Fitzgerald, Virginia – Playing his first meaningful action since his junior year of high school, Fitzgerald exploded on to the scene in 2006, pacing the Cavalier front with 63 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and 5½ sacks.  His unexpected emergence prevented Virginia’s opponents from double teaming junior Chris Long on the opposite end of the line.

LB Prince Hall, Alabama – Despite sharing time in the middle with Matt Collins, Hall has quickly established himself as one of the pillars of Joe Kines’ defense.  He’s a 5-11, 255-pound run stuffer that finished the regular season with 71 tackles and a team-leading 11 tackles for loss.

LB Joe Pawelek, Baylor – One of this year’s biggest freshman surprises, Pawelek earned a spot on the All-Big 12 second team after leading the Bears with 86 tackles and nine quarterback hurries.  Coming out of high school, the league’s Defensive Newcomer of the Year was actually considered a better long-range prospect in baseball than football. 

*LB Patrick Lavine, Oklahoma State – Lavine started the final seven games of the season for the Cowboys, piling up 66 tackles and a tackle for loss in each of those starts.  He was not one of last year’s most heralded for Mike Gundy, but he grew up quickly and has a very bright future in Stillwater.
*DB Taylor Mays, USC – It’s still early, but Mays looks as if he’s going to be the next in a long line of intimidating Trojan safeties.  The Pac-10 co-Freshman of the Year had 55 tackles and three interceptions after replacing injured Josh Pinkard, but it’s presence at a speedy 6-4 and 225 pounds that’s going to give nightmares to Pac-10 receivers for as long as he remains an amateur.  
DB Andre Sexton, Oklahoma State – The Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year and honorable mention selection led the Cowboys with 75 tackles, adding 7½ tackles and three forced fumbles.  Sexton isn’t all that big at 6-0 and 190 pounds, but proved every weekend that he’s not afraid to provide run support or bring the payload on an unsuspecting receiver.

*DB Alterraun Verner, UCLA – One of the Pac-10’s co-Freshman of the Year, Verner wrapped up the regular season with 50 tackles and a pair of picks, both of which he returned for touchdowns.  Only 17 and 170 pounds, the Bruins’ cornerback of the future is only going to get better as he matures and fills out.

*DB Myron Rolle, Florida State – Rolle gave every indication this fall that he’ll meet or exceed the enormous expectations that preceded his arrival in Tallahassee.  Looking like the total package of size, speed and smarts, he patrolled the secondary from his rover position, making 68 tackles and breaking up five passes.

*K Brett Swenson, Michigan State – Swenson gave the Spartans the placekicking consistency they sorely lacked in 2005, nailing 15-of-19 field goal attempts and all 33 of his extra point tries.  While he’s not a boomer, inside 40 yards, Swenson displayed accuracy in his first season handling the duties.

P Matt DiLallo, Colorado – DiLallo averaged 43.7 yards a punt, a Colorado freshman record, which was good for No. 15 nationally and tops among all rookie punters.  He placed 14 of his 47 punts inside the 20 and has a big leg, but Buff coaches still feel he hasn’t even approached his full potential.

Freshman All-America Second Team