College Football's Sudden Impact Freshmen

Sep. 17 -- Scout takes a deep look at the impact freshman in college football so far, with the group led by UCLA's Josh Rosen...

We are two weeks in and we have already seen some very impactful true freshmen from coast to coast. Certainly there will be more that step up and make contributions as the season unfolds.

As we enter week three, here’s a look at some of these college rookies that have already made a splash on their respective teams.

There’s no question that former five-star prospect Josh Rosen is stealing the show. He had a brilliant opening game against Virginia and now has 574 yards and four touchdown passes over the first two weeks to lead the Bruins offense. Speaking of the UCLA offense, two freshmen running backs are seeing a lot of time to spell their star Paul Perkins. Ironically, Bolu Olorunfunmi is outperforming another five-star signee in Sotonye Jamabo to this point.

Josh Rosen (Steve Cheng, BRO)

What an interesting Saturday night matchup that’s shaping up between Rosen and the Bruins as they host BYU. One of the big stories so far this season is the play of Cougars quarterback Tanner Mangum. After his mission, Mangum is now a freshman who is absolutely on fire after his late game heroics in their two wins this season. No doubt that this will be a fun game to watch.

  • Staying out West, keep in mind that both Oregon State Beavers and Washington Huskies are starting true freshman quarterbacks in Seth Collins and Jake Browning. And I might add they have played well considering...
  • Eric Dungey took over for the injured Terrel Hunt for the Syracuse Orange. Through two games he has four touchdown passes and ranks 7th nationally in passing efficiency. It would be enormous for this program if Dungey can continue to make plays, manage the offense and limit the mistakes.
  • Of course Texas A&M’s Kyler Murray has played well when he has played for the Aggies.

RUNNING BACK

At running back, Michigan State’s L.J. Scott has looked outstanding. Through two games he has rushed for 153 yards and two scores. He’s averaging 6.4 yards per carry and will at some point emerge as the focal point of the Spartan offense.

  • Another young back in the Big Ten to watch for is Penn State's Saquon Barkley. He sparked a desperate Nittany Lion offense in last week’s win over Buffalo, rushing for 115 yards and a touchdown on only 12 carries.
  • Miami (Fl) Hurricanes running back Mark Walton has played a big early on in Coral Gables as the backup to Joseph Yearby.
  • Washington Myles Gaskin has emerged at running back, rushing 14 times for 146 yards and three scores last week.

WIDE RECEIVER

Texas A&M is loaded at wide receiver and it’s true freshman Christian Kirk leading the way in receptions with 10, yards with 149 and touchdowns with two. He also has a punt return for a score.

  • Utah Utes freshman wide receiver Britain Covey leads the team in receptions with 11 and yards with 109. 
  • West Virginia Mountaineers wide receiver Jovon Durante is a guy that should post huge numbers in Morgantown. Through two games has 10 catches for 181 yards and two touchdowns.
  • John Burt looks the part at Texas.
  • Virginia Cavaliers Olamide Zaccheaus moved from running back to wide receiver and will play a big role in their offense.
  • Several freshmen are working their way in at Illinois in wide receivers Desmond Cain and SammyMays and running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

Mississippi Rebels starting offensive guard Javon Patterson has played every offensive snap and has played and graded out exceptionally well. He will be severely tested this Saturday night against a super Alabama defensive front.

  • George Asafo-Adjeihas started two games at right tackle for the Kentucky Wildcats and has looked good. He was tested against South Carolina and gets the Florida defense on Saturday.
  • Speaking of the Gators, they are supposed to get the nation’s top offensive linemen back from last year’s class in Martez Ivey this weekend. That will be huge for the Florida front.
  • James Daniels is working well in the rotation at Iowa at left guard.
  • Connor Williams and Patrick Vahe are playing at tackle and guard respectively for Texas.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

Daylon Mack has made a big impact on the A&M defensive front. This former five-star has eight tackles and two tackles for a loss.

LINEBACKERS

Linebacker Malik Jefferson at Texas has lived up to all the hype and then some. Through two games he has 18 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss and one sack. He is one of a handful of true freshman making big contributions in Austin for Charlie Strong.

  • Speaking of linebacker, how about former four-star recruit Cameron Smith and his play at USC? He has started two games and leads the Trojans in tackles with 13.
  • Andre Smith was part of a loaded high school team at Jacksonville Trinity Christian Academy. He signed with the Tar Heels and is playing very well for Gene Chizik’s defense in Chapel Hill.
  • Another linebacker off to a nice start is Julian Hufff at Minnesota. He’s making his presence felt on the Gopher defense.
  • Nebraska outside ‘backer Dedrick Young played really well in their opener against BYU but missed last week’s game because of injury. He should be back on the field Saturday at Miami.
  • At Wisconsin, inside linebacker Chris Orr has done well in both of the Badger games.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

There has been some good early cornerback play by some true freshman. Headlining this list is Kentucky's Chris Westry. He was the SEC Freshman Of The Week after his performance against South Carolina. This is a big corner that had an interception, sack and key pass break up against the Gamecocks.

  • Staying in the SEC, former five-star Kevin Toliver has earned a starting job in the Tigers secondary and played very well in last week’s win in Starkville.
  • Washington State Cougars cornerback Darrien Molton has really adapted quickly to the college game and played well for the Cougars defense.
  • Defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick is the starter at what Alabama calls ‘Star’ and which is more or less nickel.  In the Tide's first two games in had four primary tackles and four assists, had a sack for loss of nine yards vs. Wisconsin in his first college game, and has broken up two passes.
  • Rutgers true freshman cornerback Blessuan Austin is the first position player to start an opener and play a significant role since Mohamed Sanu in 2009. He is the top cover corner on the Rutgers roster.
  • Arizona Wildcats's Sam Morrison has started both Wildcats game at cornerback opposite DeVante Neal and played well. This secondary is also getting big contributions at safety from Demetrius Flannigan.
  • Cornerback John Reid has two starts in Happy Valley for Penn State.
  • I thought Derwin James could be one of the top freshmen on college football. He’s already making his presence felt in a big way on the Seminoles defense in Tallahassee.
  • Georgia Bulldogs cornerback Rico McGraw is seeing time in Athens.

KICKERS and PUNTERS

Hey, I want to throw a kicker and punter in here as well. Oklahoma's Austin Seibert does both for the Sooners. He’s 3/3 on field goals and averaging 46.1 yards per punt. Missouri punter Corey Fatony is averaging over 47 yards per punt.


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