On the field, he has started to come in to his own and had a two touchdown performance in the latest game against Tennessee. He has yet to earn a start but leads the team in touchdown receptions and is showing signs of developing in to the dominant go to receiver that we thought he would be. His production is starting to pick up. Unfortunately for DGB his biggest national headline of the freshman year was an arrest.
2. Mario Edwards – Florida State
All signs were pointing that Edwards would grab a red-shirt year as a freshman, but when senior defensive end Brandon Jenkins went down with an injury it helped force FSU's hand to play him right off the bat. He has played in seven games thus far. He has yet to make a huge impact, but is gaining experience and continuing to get better. He is credited with four tackles and a .5 sack.
3. Johnathan Gray – Texas
Despite facing a tough depth chart scenario Gray is off to a fast start as a freshman. He currently leads the Longhorns with 553 rushing yards. He has earned starts in the last two games and is starting to become the premiere playmaker in the Longhorns offense. He recently became the 14th freshman in school history to rush for more than 500 yards in a season. He broke a ton of records in high school and is off to a potential record breaking type start at UT.
A&M has two quality backs ahead of him on the depth chart, but that has not stopped him from getting his chance to shine. The explosive ball carrier has shown why he was so highly rated out of high school. He has played in all 10 games and has rushed for 248 yards and scored three touchdowns. He has also shown his versatility as a receiver. He has reeled in nine passes for 148 yards and is the team's top kick returner. He has averaged 24.2 yards per return.
5. Malcom Brown – Texas
Brown has not yet earned his first start in a Longhorn uniform, but has come right in as expected and found himself on the two-deep at defensive tackle, a unit that is considered to be one of the strongest rotations in the country. Brown shows an exciting upside and the ability to make athletic plays. Defensive tackle is one of the toughest spots to shine at as true freshman, so his early contributions only speak to his upside.
6. Cayleb Jones – Texas
Busted his way on to the two-deep at times and has made appearances in most of the games. He made his best play of the year in last weekend's win against Iowa State when he pulled down a 23-yard reception. It was big play that showcased his ability to be a down the field type of target. He should factor in to the mix even more heavily next season after a few of the top receivers are lost to graduation.
7. Curtis Riser – Texas
Since both starting guards --Mason Walters and Trey Hopkins-- are juniors it made a lot of sense to red-shirt the talented four-star from DeSoto, Texas. Indications are that his development to this point has been sound and he is expected to push for playing time next season and step in and start once the upper classmen have departed.
8. Kennedy Estelle – Texas
Estelle comes in at another position that is tough to get an early jump on, but his talent awarded him action in three games and he got to play some in the Red River Rivalry. He was originally listed behind Donald Hawkins at left tackle on the depth chart, but has missed games with a shoulder injury. Judging the time played he could be in the mix for a red-shirt year.
9. Thomas Johnson – Texas A&M
Johnson has come right in and established himself as an elite playmaker. He has played in all 10 games for the Aggies in 2012 and earned two starts. He is third on the team in receptions and his presence on the field gives them field-stretching threat. He can make plays down the field or make tacklers miss in the open field. His one handed catch along the sidelines against Florida made national highlight reels.
Note: Since publishing this article reports have surface that Johnson has been reported missing from the Texas A&M campus. Those with any information are encouraged to contact University Police immediately at 979-845-2345.
Hughes suffered an ACL injury in the spring and has been red-shirted.
11. Barry Sanders – Stanford
Sanders has been red-shirted as a freshman at Stanford.
12. Ondre Pipkins – Michigan
Pipkins is a player who has continued to progress as a freshman. He has played and it has been an experience gathering season that should set the table for a big sophomore year and Michigan career. Week by week his playing time has increased and he is considered as one of the top back-ups. He is in better shape physically and is playing at 320 pounds after checking in at 347.
13. Michael Starts – Texas Tech
At first it looked like the Tech staff was set on redshirting Starts, but his standout play in practice earned him time in game number three against New Mexico. He made three tackles and a bone-jarring sack against New Mexico quarterback B.R. Holbrook. After he suffered an undisclosed injury and has not seen any action since. He could be in line to receive a medical red-shirt.
14. Javonte Magee – Baylor
Has been playing consistently as a freshman and listed behind starter Chris McCallister on the depth chart. He has pulled down 10 tackles and a tackle for a loss. He looks as good as anyone that watched him shine in the U.S. Army All-American game would remember. He is rangy and powerful and expected to be a high level player in college.
15. LaDarrell McNeil – Tennessee
McNeil has already earned a starting safety position. Coaches have been impressed with his ability so far and expect him to go on to an NFL career after college. He has worked hard before and after practice to get mentally prepared to play. He has started five out of the nine games he has played in. He is sixth on the team with 40 tackles and has recovered a fumble, which he returned 33 yards.
16. Bralon Addison – Oregon
Addison has been an instant impact talent. His speed, agility and open field playmaking ability make him a danger to score at any time when he has the ball in his hands. He only trails De'Anthony Thomas in receiving yards. He has hauled in 22 passes for 243 yards and three scores. He has also received some action in the punt return and kick return game. He is already a top threat on a BCS Championship contending squad.