2009 CFN All-Freshman Defensive Team
Boston College LB Luke Kuechly
Boston College LB Luke Kuechly
Posted Dec 8, 2009

Who were the best new defensive players in college football this season? Boston College LB Luke Kuechly stepped in for Mark Herzlich and was tremendous, but he was hardly the only star. Check out the 2009 CollegeFootballNews.com All-Freshman Defensive Team.

2009 CFN All-Freshman Team

Defense & Special Teams

CFN All-Freshman Teams
- 2008 CFN All-Freshman Team
- 2007 CFN All-Freshman Team
- 2006 CFN  All-Freshman Team
- 2005 CFN  All-Freshman Team
- 2004 CFN  All-Freshman Team 

- 2009 CFN Freshman All-America Offense 

Defensive Freshman of the Year: LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College

Write-ups By Richard Cirminiello

First Team

DE Aldon Smith, Missouri – Although it's early, Aldon appears ready to be the next great Smith to rush the passer in Columbia, joining Justin and Brian, who starred for the Tigers within the last decade. A relative unknown before the season began, he's erupted for 59 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, and five pass break ups.

DT Jerel Worthy, Michigan State – Very quick and athletic for a 6-3, 292-pounder, Worthy has become a fixture on the inside for the Spartans in his first season of action. Playing with the burst and the explosive first step of a defensive end, he's laid a foundation for an All-Big Ten career with 34 tackles, 8.5 tackles loss, and 4.5 sacks.

DT Kawann Short, Purdue – The Boilermakers used a slew of young players in this five-win, table-setting season. Short was one of those building blocks. At 6-4 and 310 pounds, he's a big, athletic interior linemen, with the quick first step to get penetration. A starter from day one, he got in on 48 tackles, four behind the line, and intercepted a pair of passes.

DE Nick Perry, USC – As situational pass rushers go, Perry has gotten off to a fast start in his Trojan career. More like an outside linebacker than a defensive lineman because of his size, speed and get-off, he's regularly frustrated opposing tackles to the tune of 22 tackles, eight tackles for loss, and seven sacks.

LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College – Somewhere within Kuechly's brilliant rookie season, there's a poignant message about silver linings. In an odd twist, his breakthrough year was only made possible after star LB Mark Herzlich was lost to a rare cancer. Kuechly stepped into the gaping void and went on to lead the nation's freshmen with 142 tackles and 12.5 tackles for loss. He's going to be a very special player...if he isn't already.

LB Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State – As good as advertised, when half of the West Coast sought his signature, Burfict broke into the lineup and made it impossible to keep him off the field. Physically, he's no true freshman, using his size, strength, and explosiveness to collect 69 tackles, seven tackles for loss, and a pair of sacks. He has the unmistakable upside of a future All-American.

LB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame – Te'o was every bit as talented as the press clippings indicated when he was considered a consensus blue-chipper from Hawaii. After a slow start, he got comfortable and really started to flash all of his athletic ability and penchant for planting opposing players. He finished with 63 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss, clearly getting more comfortable as the season progressed.

CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina – The rare true freshman to start at cornerback in the SEC, Gilmore possesses the ideal blend of size and athleticism to blossom into a lockdown defender. He had 52 tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks, and nine passes defended, which don't even begin to shed light on just how good he'll be over the next three years.

S Rashard Hall, Clemson – Even when he doesn't start a game, Hall has made his presence felt on the Tiger defense this season. A ball-hawk, who breaks on passes like a corner, he's made 58 tackles and is second behind DeAndre McDaniel with six interceptions. His combination of strength and athleticism are going to set him apart over the next three seasons.

S John Boyett, Oregon – When injuries struck the Duck secondary early in the season, Boyett was one of the players to step up and solidify it. A former quarterback in high school and terrific athlete, he plays with excellent range and will lower the boom like a linebacker. Even as a part-time starter, he has a team-high 78 tackles and has broken up six passes.

CB Josh Robinson, UCF – Robinson had opportunities to play in the Big East, ACC, SEC, or Big Ten. However, he felt at home in Orlando, which has been great news for the Knights ever since he arrived. One of the young parts in Conference USA's toughest defenses, he leads the team with six picks and is tied with a team-best 56 solo tackles.

Special Teams

PK Nick Tausch, Notre Dame – Tausch wasted little time confirming that he was one of the nation's top prep placekickers, winning the job in the summer and then solidifying the position in the fall. Prior to injuring his leg and missing most of November, he'd hit all but three of his 17 field goal tries while showing good pop on his kicks.

P Jeff Locke, UCLA – The ideal successor to Aaron Perez, Locke has displayed the leg strength to keep the Bruins solid here through the 2012 season. The only freshman semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award, he's second in the Pac-10 with a 44-yard average, while leading the league in touchbacks on kickoffs.

Second Team

DE Chase Thomas, Stanford
DT Jacobbi McDaniel, Florida State
DT Omar Hunter, Florida
DE Alex Okafor, Texas
LB Steve Greer, Virginia
LB Ronnie Thornton, Southern Miss
LB Chris Borland, Wisconsin
CB Greg Reid, Florida State
S Cody Davis, Texas Tech
S Jordan Kovacs, Michigan
CB Kenny Okoro, Wake Forest

Special Teams

PK Matt Weller, Ohio
P Tress Way, Oklahoma

Third Team

DE Devin Taylor, South Carolina
DT Will Pericak, Colorado
DT Adam Replogle, Indiana
DE Taylor Wyndham, Kentucky
LB Kyle Mangan, Texas A&M
LB Walter Stewart, Cincinnati
LB Brian Wagner, Akron
CB Josh Hill, Cal
S Daren Bates, Auburn
S Drew Frey, Cincinnati
CB Bryan Willis, Troy

Special Teams

PK Ryan Fowler, Vanderbilt
P Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State

Honorable Mention

DL: Cory Dorris, Tulsa, Steven Means, Buffalo, Larry Black, Indiana, Baker Steinkuhler, Nebraska, Scott Vallone, Rutgers, A.J. Francis, Maryland, Dontari Poe, Memphis

LB: Huldon Tharp, Kansas, Shayne Skov, Stanford, Mike Taylor, Wisconsin, Craig Roh, Michigan, Kevin Reddick, North Carolina, J.C. Percy, Boise State

DB: Desmond Trufant, Washington, Terry Hawthorne, Illinois, Kemal Ismael, UCF, Shamiel Gary, Wyoming, Dexter McCoil, Tulsa, Jared Holley, Pittsburgh, Lubbock Smith, Kansas

- 2009 CFN Freshman All-America Offense