2014 CFN All-Freshman Defensive Team

The best new defensive players in college football for 2014

2014 Freshman All-American

Defense & Special Teams

Dec. 11, 2014 2014 All-Freshman Team E-mail Rich Cirminiello
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- 2014 CFN All-Freshman Offense

Defensive Freshman of the Year: DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee

DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee
It didn’t take long for Barnett to validate being the first Volunteer true freshman to ever start an opener at defensive end. He was physically ready to contribute from the moment he arrived in Knoxville in May, and his work ethic has been outstanding. The instinctive Barnett leads all freshmen with 20.5 stops for loss to go along with 69 tackles and 10 sacks.

DT Davon Godchaux, LSU
Sure, it’s early, but Godchaux has shown hints of being the latest interior star for a program accustomed to developing next-level tackles. Despite missing his senior year to a knee injury, he’s shown no rust in 2014 after cracking the lineup in Week 3. Godchaux has helped stabilize the middle of the Tiger line, making 34 tackles as an up-and-coming run-stuffer.

DT Lowell Lotulelei, Utah
Lotulelei hopes to follow in the footsteps of his big brother, Star, who used Salt Lake City as a launching point to the first round of the NFL Draft. Little brother is off to a promising start. Lotulelei has started eight games with the Utes, the last seven at the nose. He has the strength to anchor the line, yet also notched four sacks, en route to being named honorable mention All-Pac-12.

DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
Garrett has exploded on to the scene this season to become one of the premier young predators in the country. Playing as if shot from a cannon, he’s been an unstoppable blend of get-off, closing speed and strength, laying the groundwork for a brilliant career ahead. Garrett’s opening act has included 11 sacks to obliterate Jadeveon Clowney’s SEC freshman record.

LB Ja’Whan Bentley, Purdue
While Bentley wasn’t supposed to be a focal point in his first season, he stepped up like a veteran after injuries struck the Boilermaker linebackers. The 250-pound rookie from Maryland began the year at weakside before shifting inside when veteran Sean Robinson went down. Bentley wound up second on the team with 76 tackles, adding 3.5 stops for loss and three fumble recoveries.

LB Darron Lee, Ohio State
Lee has been one of the young faces of a Buckeye defense that has gotten better as the season has progressed. The formerly undersized safety was a surprise to even start this season, but he’s gone on to make 78 tackles, five interceptions and six pass breakups from strongside. Lee plays with outstanding intensity, as well as the range to be an effective pass defender.

LB Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State
Backing up Curtis Grant on the inside couldn’t keep McMillan from showing off his blue-chip set of tools. He’s had an instant impact off the bench, making 49 tackles, six stops for loss, 2.5 sacks and a pick-six. McMillan’s skills are advanced for a rookie, from his physicality and nose for the ball to the way he defends the pass. Grant’s a senior, so McMillan may not play second fiddle to a teammate until his NFL career is over.

CB Mackensie Alexander, Clemson
A lot was expected of Alexander this season. And a lot has been delivered by the 2013 blue-chip recruit. He’d have played last year, but a groin injury forced him to redshirt. Now healthy, Alexander is headed to becoming one of the game’s elite young lockdown corners. The honorable mention All-ACC pick has started every game, and his modest four pass breakups are testament to quarterbacks’ quest to avoid him.

S Budda Baker, Washington
The ground floor is down. Baker will spend the next three years building on it. The gem of Chris Petersen’s first recruiting class in Seattle has started every game, steadily improving as the season unfolded. Baker needs to add weight, especially if he stays at safety, but his elite speed and athleticism set him apart. He’s parlayed 76 tackles and six passes defended into honorable mention All-Pac-12 recognition.

S Quin Blanding, Virginia
Blanding has been as good as advertised. Nah, he’s actually been a whole lot better. Blanding is authoring one of the great all-time seasons for a first-year Cavalier defender, leading the team and all FBS rookies with 123 tackles. He was fittingly named ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year, showcasing the maturity, work ethic and tackling skills to make this his first of many All-American appearances.

CB Adoree’ Jackson, USC
Jackson is one of those rare athletes whose impact has no boundaries. He’s been a three-way player in his Trojan debut, starting at cornerback, while chipping in as a receiver and a special teamer. Yet, more than just a top-flight athlete, he’s also flush in intangibles and football intellect. The Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year has the all-around star power to be a household name by this time next year.

Special Teams

PK Matthew McCrane, Kansas State
McCrane has gone the entire regular season with just one missed field goal on 17 tries. And to think he wasn’t even the starter when the year began. He replaced an ineffective Jack Cantele in Week 4 and has solidified the Wildcat kicking game ever since. While there’s room for improvement, McCrane is off to a great start, including 2-of-2 from outside 50 yards.

P JK Scott, Alabama
The rookie from Denver hasn’t simply been capable in his debut; he’s been a difference-maker for the Crimson Tide defense. Scott ranks among the nation’s leaders in punting average, yet also displays the finesse and leg extension to pin opponents deep in their own territory. Just a few months removed form high school, he’s already a Ray Guy Award finalist.

Defense

DE KeShun Freeman, Georgia Tech
DT Steven Richardson, Minnesota
DT Tashon Smallwood, Arizona State
DE Marquis Haynes, Ole Miss

LB Nigel Bowden, Vanderbilt
LB DJ Calhoun, Arizona State
LB Lorenzo Carter, Georgia

CB Eli Apple, Ohio State
S Jamal Adams, LSU
S Armani Watts , Texas A&M
CB Ranthony Texada, TCU

Special Teams

PK Rafael Gaglianone, Wisconsin
P Will Gleeson, Ole Miss

Honorable Mention

DL: Dajuan Drennon (North Carolina), Wendell Dunn (Wake Forest), Nate Hoff (Indiana), Nazair Jones (North Carolina), Ja’Von Rolland-Jones (Arkansas State), Graysen Schantz (Rice), Gus Schwieterman (Bowling Green), K.J. Smith (Baylor), Kemoko Turay (Rutgers)

LB: Lorenzo Featherston (Florida State), Jerod Fernandez (NC State), Derek Ibekwe (New Mexico State), Alvin Jones (UTEP), Peter Kalambayi (Stanford), Elijah Lee (Kansas State), Andrew Motuapuaka (Virginia Tech), Quentin Poling (Ohio), Craig Suits (Tulsa), Taylor Young (Baylor)

DB: Nigel Bethel (Texas Tech), Oren Burks (Vanderbilt), Sean Chandler (Temple), Kamari Cotton-Moya (Iowa State), Jalen Davis (Utah State), Tre Flowers (Oklahoma State), Jason Hall (Texas), Dravon Henry (West Virginia), Nick Johnson (Bowling Green), Josh Jones (NC State), Sidney Jones (Washington), Jarvis McCall (Arizona), Parry Nickerson (Tulane), Steven Parker (Oklahoma), Ramon Richards (Oklahoma State), Justin Strong (Oregon State), Jalen Tabor (Florida), Jaleel Wadood (UCLA), Charleston White (Washington State)

PK: Daniel Carlson (Auburn), Andrew Gantz (Cincinnati), Cole Murphy (Syracuse), Austin MacGinnis (Kentucky), Aaron Medley (Tennessee), Trevor Moore (North Texas), Mike Weaver (Wake Forest)

P: Jordan Dascalo (Washington State), Spencer Smith (Memphis)

- 2014 CFN All-Freshman Offense


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