2009 CFN All-Redshirt Freshman Team
Washington RB Chris Polk
Washington RB Chris Polk
Posted Jul 31, 2009

Who are college football's newest stars to watch out for? Richard Cirminiello highlights the best of the best redshirt freshmen, including Washington RB Chris Polk, on the 2009 CFN All-Redshirt Freshman Team.

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Redshirt Freshman All-America Offense

Compiled by Richard Cirminiello

- 2009 Preview | 2009 CFN Redshirt All-America Defense
- 2008 CFN Redshirt All-America Offense
2007 CFN Redshirt All-America Offense

For literally hundreds of true freshmen across the country, last season was undoubtedly the most frustrating of their athletic careers. Sure, there was plenty of development and maturation going on, both physically and intellectually, but there were no games to be played, no competition on Saturdays, and no box scores housing their names. For a variety of reasons, these idle warriors were redshirted in 2008, with the design that they’d return this year a little bigger, a little stronger, and much better prepared to start paying dividends for all those recruiting trips, phone calls and text messages during the courtship.

Redshirt freshmen are somewhat of a mystery in college football. While hardly the same young men they were on Signing Day 18 months ago, have they grown enough to be productive this fall? As always, it depends on the athlete in question.

QB Andrew Luck, Stanford – While nothing becomes official until later in August, Luck was clearly in the driver’s seat coming out of spring. The gem of the 2008 recruiting class, he took flight in March and April, capping the session by going 19-of-26 for 383 yards and five touchdowns in the Cardinal and White game. At 6-4 and 225 pounds, he’s bigger and stronger than when he arrived from Stratford (Tex.) High School. He also has the arm strength and the touch to make all of the throws, which has been missing for years in this offense. Mentally, physically, and emotionally ready for this challenge, he’ll try to close the deal in the summer. 

RB Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech – The unrivaled spring rock star, Williams regularly wowed everyone in attendance with his explosiveness and big-play ability, a stark contrast to starter Darren Evans. A classic two-stepper, who gets to top gear in a hurry, he’ll attack the hole on a carry or a catch and promptly bring the defense to its knees. He’s got that little something special, which the Hokie staff can’t wait to unveil in September.

RB Chris Polk, Washington – U-Dub fans got teased by the 5-11, 200-pound Polk, who appeared in the first two games of 2008 before going down with a season-ending shoulder injury. One of the prized gets of the 2008 class, he’s a versatile runner, who’ll beat defenses in a multitude of different ways. The raw skills are there for him to run through tacklers, catch passes out of the backfield, and jet past defenders. He was offered by USC, which means new coach Steve Sarkisian knows him well and he can flat out play.

WR Javaris Brown, Virginia – The Wahoos are thrilled to have access to the 5-11, 180-pound Brown, especially with the offense being turned over to Gregg Brandon, a more open-minded coordinator. An exciting playmaker, with the ability to make people miss in the open field, he’s going to be a very nice fit in this quick-hitting attack. If Virginia can get him the ball in space, he has just enough speed and wiggle to turn a short hitch into a long play, igniting one of the ACC’s worst offenses.

WR Tavarres King, Georgia – No, A.J. Green was not the only superstar receiver landed by the Dawgs in the Class of 2008. While Green was taking flight last fall, the 6-1, 184-pound King was getting bigger and stronger, and a tighter grasp on the playbook. He actually caught a couple of passes last September before an ankle injury shut him down for the rest of the year. It could wind up being a blessing. With the added muscle, he hasn’t lost any of his flash, and is in a much better position to compete for a starting job.    

Jake Stoneburner, Ohio State – Stoneburner thinks he’s a wide receiver. The scales beg to differ. As he’s grown to 6-5 and 243 pounds, he’s left no doubts where he’ll be lining up, though catching a bunch of passes remains firmly on the to-do list. Although the position has been somewhat marginalized in recent years, he has the athletic ability, speed, and soft hands to force a subtle change in philosophy, especially once starter Jake Ballard graduates this year.

Tanner Hawkinson
, Kansas – Todd Reesing’s blindside looks as if it’ll be entrusted to Hawkinson, who arrived in Lawrence as a tight end and switched to defensive end before finally settling down on the offensive line. An excellent blocker, with good technique and upper body strength, he’s been on a mad dash to add weight to his lanky 6-5 frame since it became clear in the spring that he’d be the favorite to land the left tackle job.

OG Carson York, Oregon – One of the top offensive linemen in the Northwest in 2007, York delayed enrollment until the 2008 winter term while recovering from shoulder surgery. A ferocious 6-5, 285-pound drive blocker, he plays with emotion from whistle-to-whistle. Heavily recruited by just about every Pac-10 school, he’ll get to where he needs to be, but will that happen as early as this fall? A Duck front wall in transition is banking on it.

C Ben Habern, Oklahoma – Sure, there are concerns about a rebuilt Sooner offensive line that welcomes back a single starter, but that hasn’t made Habern flinch. The 6-3, 290-pounder has looked fantastic throughout the offseason, lending hope he’ll be a more than adequate replacement for Jon Cooper over the next four years. In fact, he played some last September before injuring his foot, showing enough blocking skills and leadership to allay any fears about the future at center.

OG David DeCastro, Stanford – The freshest face up front for the Cardinal isn’t expected to perform like a rookie in his debut. Named the starter at right guard before the start of spring, DeCastro failed to disappoint throughout the offseason. At 6-5 and 307 pounds, he’s surprisingly quick on his feet, moving exceptionally well for such a large interior lineman. Thanks to his maturity and work ethic, there’s a real good likelihood you won’t know this is his first season of action.

OT Bryce Givens, Colorado – It hasn’t taken Givens very long to show why he was one of the most coveted tackles of 2008. At 6-6 and 275 pounds, he may not be at his ideal fighting weight quite yet, but he’s headed in the right direction and has the reach and footwork to excel in his debut as the starting right tackle. Already a knee-bender, he’s been well-coached up to this point and has the proper fundamentals to eventually become a dominant pass blocker.

Honorable Mention

QB: Kevin Prince (UCLA), Kyle Parker (Clemson), Tyler Wilson (Arkansas), Curt Phillips (Wisconsin) E.J. Manuel (Florida State), Landry Jones (Oklahoma), Mike Glennon (NC State), Taylor Cook (Miami), Sean Renfree (Duke), and Ryan Nassib (Syracuse)

RB: LaMichael James (Oregon), Jeff Brinson (Iowa), Andre Ellington (Clemson), Kevin Whaley (Minnesota), and Covaughn DeBoskie (Cal)

WR: Clyde Lee (Boston College), Anthony Boyles (Washington), Brice Butler (USC), Kevin Dorsey (Maryland), Jordan Bishop (Oregon State), and Brandon Wimberly (Nevada)

Dion Jordan (Oregon)

OL: Matt Kalil (USC), Nick Becton (Virginia Tech), Sam Robey (Florida), Mario Benavides (Louisville), Emmett Cleary (Boston College), Mark Buchanan (Texas), Jonathan Cooper (North Carolina), Trevor Marrongelli (Kansas), John Williams (Kansas), and Omoregie Uzzi (Georgia Tech)

- 2009 CFN Redshirt All-America Defense