and compiled by
Chad Henne*, Michigan –
This was supposed to be a redshirt year for Henne, but instead, it
was a baptism under fire after Matt Gutierrez couldn’t start the
And he performed well enough to have many believe he’ll be
the most prolific Wolverine quarterback of all-time.
Henne led all freshmen with 21 touchdown passes and 2,516
yards through the air.
RB Adrian Peterson*,
Oklahoma – Much more than just a Freshman All-American, this
year’s Heisman runner-up authored one of the great seasons by a
true freshman in college football history.
Peterson ran for 1,843 yards and 15 touchdowns, saving his
most electrifying performances for the Sooners’ most important
RB Michael Hart*,
Michigan – Someone had to replace Chris Perry in the backfield,
but no one figured before the season began it would be a true
After taking over the starting job in late September, Hart
bobbed and weaved his way to nearly 1,400 yards and nine touchdowns,
forever ending the speculation over who’d be Perry’s successor.
WR Dwayne Jarrett*, USC
– It took some time and a bunch of dropped passes, but Jarrett
eventually developed into Matt Leinart’s favorite target.
The Trojans’ next big thing at the receiver position caught
50 passes for 734 yards and 12 touchdowns, and in this offense,
appears destined for Mike Williams-like stardom.
Blythe, Iowa State – Big, physical receivers were certainly in
style on this year’s Freshman All-American team.
Witness Blythe, another of these 6-5 pass catches, who hauled
in 36 balls for 791 yards and nine touchdowns for an improving
Cyclone passing attack.
TE Zach Miller*, Arizona
State – Miller gave Andrew Walter something he didn’t have in
his arsenal last season, a fluid pass-catching tight end that could
stretch defenses. He
led all freshmen tight ends this fall with 51 receptions for 524
yards and six touchdowns.
OL Jake Long,
Michigan – If his first season is any indication, Michigan’s
massive tackle is ready to carry on the long tradition of premier
Wolverine offensive linemen. Long
had a sensational debut, earning a spot on the All-Big Ten second
OL Sam Baker, USC – On
a unit that was seeking an identity, Baker stood out as its most
consistent member. He
started each Trojan game at left tackle, drawing favorable
comparisons to last season’s All-American, Jacob Rogers.
OL Barry Richardson*,
Clemson – The Tigers’ behemoth teen left high school early to
get a jump on the other freshmen, and it certainly paid off.
The 6-7, 350-pound Richardson worked his way up the depth
chart this fall, starting the team’s final six games at tackle.
He has the raw skills and potential to one day be an
OL Kory Lichtensteiger,
Bowling Green – In his maiden voyage on the Bowling Green line,
Lichtensteiger started all 11 games, and earned a spot on the
All-MAC second team. He
displayed terrific athleticism for a 300-pound left guard.
OL Charlston Gray*, North
Carolina – The only underclassman on a talented, veteran offensive
line, Gray held his own for the Tar Heels.
He started the final eight games of the season, and was
responsible for just a single sack.
DL Wallace Gilberry,
Alabama – Gilberry wasn’t even a starter this fall, yet led the
Tide with 12 tackles for loss and 6½ sacks.
He’s got a motor that doesn’t quit, and an infectious
passion for the game that makes defensive coaches giddy.
DL Lawrence Jackson, USC – Once he steps outside the shadow
of Trojan greats, like Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson, Jackson looks
capable of chasing postseason All-American honors himself.
He collected 11 tackles for loss and six sacks this year,
numbers that could rise markedly in 2005.
DL Quentin Groves, Auburn – Groves and Stanley McClover
will give the Tigers pass-rushing bookends for the next three
seasons. Both redshirt
freshmen finished the regular season with 10 tackles for loss and 7½
sacks, tops on the nation’s No. 1 scoring defense.
DL Tony Jenkins, Syracuse
– Jenkins was a big, running stuffing force in the middle of the
Orange defensive line.
His 43 tackles don’t do justice to the impact he had on the
Syracuse run defense.
LB Brandon Siler*, Florida – For the second straight year,
Gainesville has been home to one of the best freshman linebackers in
America. In 2003, the
SEC was introduced to Channing Crowder, and in 2004, Siler made his
prematurely forced him from the sidelines, and Siler responded with
a monster second-half that earned him the coaches’ vote for SEC
Freshman of the Year.
LB Dan Connor*, Penn State – Connor arrived in Happy Valley
with a heady advanced billing, and failed to disappoint.
He collected 85 tackles for the Lions, and was peaking as the
season came to an end. Over
the next three years, young stars like Connor and sophomore Paul Posluszny
will give Penn State a chance to recapture the title, Linebacker U.
LB Jonathan Abbate, Wake Forest – The adjective “tackling
machine” is often overused, but apropos when describing Wake
Forest’s first-year linebacker.
Abbate’s 101 stops were 30 more than the nearest Deacon,
helping him become just the second Wake freshman to ever earn a spot
on the All-ACC squad.
DB Ko Simpson*,
South Carolina – Lightly recruited coming out of high school,
Simpson was a revelation for a Gamecock secondary that was in dire
need of playmakers before the season began.
The AP’s SEC Freshman of the Year scored a pair of
defensive touchdowns, and led the conference with six interceptions
DB Roshaun Fellows, Tennessee – After one season, Fellows
displayed the kind of cover skills and overall athleticism that
could propel him to becoming one of the SEC’s elite corners before
too long. His 13 passes
defended include three interceptions, and leads the Volunteers.
DB Antoine Cason*, Arizona – Cason consistently went
step-for-step with some of the Pac-10’s better receivers,
establishing himself as one of the cornerstones of Mike Stoops’
defense for the next three seasons.
He chipped in with 70 tackles, and paced the ‘Cats with
DB Anthony Reddick*,
Miami – Reddick was forced into action after Brandon Merriweather
injured his shoulder, and immediately showed ‘Cane fans that the
secondary will be in good hands the next three years.
Despite getting limited snaps early on, he has 62 tackles,
two punt blocks, and has showed why he was one of the most sought
after defensive backs in Florida last winter.
Team Special Teams
PK Travis Bell,
Georgia Tech – A walk-on, Bell quickly elevated the Tech kicking
game from a potential concern to an area of strength.
After missing his first kick of the year, he connected on his
next 15 attempts to establish a new school record.
P Chris MacDonald,
Arizona State – A walk-on last year, MacDonald is now walking away
with All-America honors in his first season as the Sun Devil punter.
He’s prone to occasional lapses in consistency, but
possesses a booming leg that’s helped him lead all freshmen with a
43-yard punting average.
RET Ted Ginn Jr.*,
Ohio State – Originally signed as a corner, Ginn had a marvelous
debut as a receiver and a punt returner.
He caught 19 passes in the second half, led the nation in
punt returns and took an NCAA-record four back for touchdowns.
Once he adds some weight to his 170-pound frame, the Buckeyes
will have a more explosive version of Chris Gamble.
QB Erik Ainge*, Tennessee – Before being lost for the season with a separated
shoulder, Ainge spent September and October playing with the poise
of an upperclassmen. He
and fellow freshman Brent Schaefer shared snaps early on, but it was
Ainge who wound throwing 17 touchdown passes, and leading the Vols
to wins over Florida, Georgia and Alabama.
RB Jamario Thomas*, North
Texas – If not for a season-ending knee injury to Patrick Cobbs,
Thomas may never have gotten off the Mean Green bench in 2004.
As fate would have it, he stepped into the lineup, raced for
more than 200 yards in six of eight starts, and became the second
North Texas back in as many years to lead the country in rushing.
RB Marshawn Lynch*, Cal
– Lynch caddied for senior J.J. Arrington this fall, but showed
enough flashes of brilliance to ensure Bear fans that the running is
set for the foreseeable future.
He averaged more than nine yards on his 66 carries, caught
two touchdown passes and even threw another.
WR Calvin Johnson*,
Georgia Tech – An acrobat with terrific size and leaping ability,
Johnson became just the 11th player in ACC history to be
named first team as a freshman.
His 46 catches, 776 yards and six touchdown receptions all
led the Yellow Jackets.
WR Ernie Wheelwright*,
Minnesota – Throughout the season, Wheelwright used his 6-5 frame
to out muscle and out leap helpless defenders.
With defenses paying so much attention to the Gopher running
game, he became Bryan Cupito’s best long ball threat, catching 30
passes for 654 yards and seven touchdowns.
TE Martin Rucker,
Missouri – Rucker entered fall practice No. 4 on the depth chart
before bolting past the competition, and starting each of Mizzou’s
11 games. On the season, he hauled in 19 passes, four of which went for
Martin O’Donnell, Illinois – O’Donnell took over at left
guard for the Illini after starter Bryan Koch went down with a
season-ending injury in week one.
He started the next 10 games, grading out at over 90 percent.
It’s the second straight year Illinois had an offensive
lineman named Freshman All-American.
OL Chris Yoder, Texas
A&M – Geoff Hangartner moved to tackle before the season,
allowing Yoder to start at center, and the freshman proved he was up
to the challenge. He
started all 11 Aggie games this fall, averaging 10 knockdowns per
OL Ryan Wendell*, Fresno
State – Injuries thrust Wendell into the Bulldogs’ starting
rotation, and he performed well enough to be named the WAC
Co-Freshman of the Year. He
started the final eight games of the season at left guard.
OL Kirk Barton, Ohio
State – After redshirting last season, Barton began to show why he
was a prized recruit for Ohio State in 2003.
Despite being 6-6, the tackle is a terrific athlete, drawing
comparisons to former Buckeye, Jim Lachey when he climbed the depth
chart in October.
OL Will Arnold, LSU –
When he wasn’t switching positions or recovering from a knee
injury, Arnold showed the kind of ability that should make him an
immediate standout in the SEC.
He started eight games this season, five at left guard.
DL Chris Ellis, Virginia Tech – The Hokies beat out rival
Virginia for Ellis’ signature two years ago, and they’ll spend
the next three years being happy they did.
He saw considerable playing time behind Jim Davis and Darryl
Tapp, collecting 30 tackles, 7½ tackles for loss and three sacks.
Tuohy, New Mexico – Tuohy gives the Lobos a Freshman
All-American for the fourth consecutive year. Despite
notching just four starts in 2004, he used a quick first step and a
non-stop motor to tally 10½ tackles for loss and 6½ sacks.
DL Tommy Blake, TCU – On a unit that ranked No. 99 in total
defense, Blake was one of the few bright spots.
The converted running back found a home at defensive end,
where he raced his way to five sacks this past season.
DL Jason Jack, Texas A&M – Jack was a key component of
the youth movement that symbolized the Aggie front seven. His 48 tackles and six tackles for loss were good enough to
warrant All-Big XII honorable mention recognition.
LB Brian Toal*,
Boston College – It didn’t take Toal long to show why he was one
of the highest rated high school linebackers last year.
He earned a starting job midway through the season, and
quickly joined Mathias Kiwanuka as the Eagles’ second defensive
star. The Big East
Rookie of the Year has the physical and mental capacity to become
one of BC’s all-time greatest defenders.
LB Josh Williams, Arkansas State – Down in Jonesboro,
Arkansas State was a breeding ground this year for young, talented
defenders. The small,
but speedy Williams led the charge with 110 tackles, most by of any
freshman in the nation in 2004.
LB Jordon Dizon*,
Colorado – Dizon broke barriers in Boulder this year, establishing
a new school mark for tackles by a true freshman with 78, and
becoming the first rookie to ever start at linebacker for Colorado.
For his work, Dizon was honored as the Big XII’s Defensive
Freshman of the Year.
Pittsburgh – In a season full of surprises, Revis was one of the
most pleasant developments for the Panthers.
Although he wasn’t even the hottest defensive back
recruited by Walt Harris last year, Revis claimed a starting spot in
time for the opener, and went on to lead the team with 11 passes
DB Japhus Brown, Texas A&M – Brown was active from his
safety position, amassing 58 tackles and picking off three passes
during the regular season. He
was one of a number of underclassmen that saw significant playing
time as the Aggies took baby steps toward recapturing their Wrecking
DB Jonathan Hefney*,
Tennessee – What Hefney lacks in size, he makes up for with great
closing speed and athleticism.
The other half of Tennessee’s starting freshmen corners is
fourth on the Vols with 61 tackles, and tied for the team lead with
10 passes broken up.
DB Quentin Demps, UTEP – The WAC’s co-Freshman of the
Year was one of the ball hawking disciples of Tim Hundley’s
aggressive defense. Demps
has followed up a breakout spring with 52 tackles, 2 interceptions
and a pair of forced fumbles in ten starts.
Team Special Teams
Alexis Serna, Oregon
State – Serna began the year as the poster child for inconsistent
kicking, lost his job for a week, and then missed just a single kick
over the final nine games of the season. After getting vilified for missing three extra points in the
gut-wrenching opening day loss to LSU, he found his mark and earned
a scholarship in the process.
Wisconsin – DeBauche unseated senior incumbent R.J. Morse in the
summer, and never lost his grip on the job in the fall.
He averaged just over 41 yards a punt, but exhibited
outstanding hang time and consistently pinned Badger opponents
inside their own 20.
RET Kevin Robinson*,
Utah State – The nation’s No. 2 punt returner scored three
special teams touchdowns this year, and was an integral part of the
Aggie passing attack. Robinson
led Utah State receivers with 44 catches for 602 yards and three
* Denotes player is a true freshman