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2006 CFN Freshman All-America First Team
Texas QB Colt McCoy leads our Third Annual CollegeFootballNews.com All-Freshman team.
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.
Freshman of the Year: QB Colt McCoy, Texas
Defensive Freshman of the Year: S Taylor Mays, USC
*Indicates player is a true freshman
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
*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
*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
*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
*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.
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
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
*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
*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.