Checking in on the top 50 true freshmen in the country

Steve Palazzolo provides analysis on every true freshman included in 247Sports' preseason ranking.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Michael Thomas)

(AP Photo/Michael Thomas)

Checking in on the top 50 true freshmen in the country

With almost half of the season already gone, it’s time to check in on true freshmen from around the country. For this, we’ve used 247Sports who consolidates their own recruiting rankings with those from ESPN, Rivals, and Scout to form one composite ranking.

As is the case every year, some freshmen are able to step right into a prominent while others take a few weeks to get going. Still others are destined to redshirt and live up to their hype starting next season.

Here’s an update on the top 50 freshmen in the country based on 247Sports’ composite rankings coming in the season.

  1. DT Trent Thompson, Georgia

The nation’s top recruit has started to live up to the hype in recent weeks, grading at +9.9 in his last three games. His +8.7 grade against the run ranks second among Georgia defensive linemen and his 61 snaps last weekend against Tennessee marked a career high.

  1. OT Martez Ivey, Florida

The consensus top offensive tackle recruit has played 67 of his 108 snaps at left tackle and 39 snaps at left guard, along with two as an extra tight end. He’s given up three pressures on 65 pass block attempts while posting a run blocking grade of -4.2.

  1. DE Byron Cowart, Auburn

Played 95 snaps as part of Auburn’s defensive line rotation, grading at +1.2 against the run and +0.2 as a pass rusher (three hurries on 38 rushes).

  1. CB Iman Marshall, USC

No USC defensive back has played more than Marshall’s 280 snaps and he’s handled them well with a +3.9 coverage grade that ranks second among FBS true freshmen. He’s allowed eight catches on his 16 targets for 166 yards.

  1. S Derwin James, FSU

James has started to see the field more in recent weeks, including 64 of his 130 snaps last Saturday against Miami. He’s grading positively against the run and in coverage, and he’s been quite effective as a pass rusher picking up a sack, two hits, and three hurries on only nine rushes.

  1. DT Kahlil McKenzie, Tennessee

Yet another freshman coming off his best game, McKenzie was a force against the run versus Georgia on Saturday. He’s grading at +3.1 in the run game though he’s managed only one pressure on his 63 pass rushes this season.

  1. DE CeCe Jefferson, Florida

An important piece of the Florida defensive line rotation since Week 1, Jefferson has played almost all of his 178 snaps on the edge with a few lined up at defensive tackle. He’s grading at +2.3 against the run and +2.4 as a pass rusher with a hit and nine hurries on his 96 rushes.

  1. CB Kevin Toliver, LSU

The top true freshman cornerback to this point, Toliver is grading at +7.1 overall and +4.5 in coverage. He’s given up only nine catches on 18 targets for 114 yards to go with an interception and one pass defense.

  1. DE Josh Sweat, FSU

Sweat boasts the top grade against the run among true freshmen edge players at +7.0 and he also leads in tackles with 12 and stops with eight. He’s coming of the best pass rushing outing of his career as he notched a hit and five hurries against Miami on Saturday.

  1. LB Malik Jefferson, Texas

No true freshman defensive player has played more than Jefferson’s 413 snaps, although he’s had his ups and downs. He’s missed 10 tackles in six games — a big part of his -4.2 grade against the run — but he’s improved in coverage in recent weeks and he’s picked up two sacks, three hits and nine hurries on his 65 rushes.

  1. WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama

Ridley leads all true freshman receivers with 358 snaps and he ranks second in targets with 45. He leads Alabama with 31 catches for 385 yards and he’s started to assert himself as their top option with 260 yards in the last two games, 159 of which have come after the catch (7.5 YAC per reception on the season).

  1. QB Josh Rosen, UCLA

When putting Rosen’s season into proper perspective, it’s been an impressive start for the true freshman with excellent games against Virginia (+4.6) and Arizona (+3.5), but two poor showings against UNLV (-2.4) and BYU (-4.8). While he’s certainly made his fair share of freshman mistakes, the overall body of work has been impressive for Rosen who has made plenty of big boy throws as well.

  1. DT Terry Beckner, JR, Missouri

The top run-stopping defensive tackle among the freshmen, Beckner’s +13.3 ranks 12th in the nation among all interior defensive linemen. He’s added a sack and five hurries on 94 rushes.

  1. DT Daylon Mack, Texas A&M

Mack ranks right behind Beckner and Thompson as a run stopper at +8.2, though he has added little as a pass rusher (-3.0) on his 146 total snaps.

  1. CB Tarvarus McFadden, FSU

Played all 25 of his snaps in Week 1 against Texas State, picking up a hurry and a run stop while not facing any targets.

  1. DE Canton Kaumatule, Oregon

Kaumatule has played the majority of his 56 snaps in mop-up duty, picking up two run stops and one batted pass.

  1. OLB Keisean Lucier-South, UCLA

Has yet to play a snap this season.

  1. WR Deon Cain, Clemson

While he’s only been targeted 15 times this season, Cain made a big impact against Georgia Tech last weekend with five receptions for 96 yards. He has a +3.1 receiving grade on 78 snaps this season.

  1. WR George Campbell, FSU

Campbell has played only 18 snaps on the season and caught three of his four targets for 42 yards in week 1 against Texas State.

  1. CB Kendall Sheffield, Alabama

Has yet to play a snap this season.

  1. QB Blake Barnett, Alabama

Has yet to play a snap this season.

  1. OT Mitch Hyatt, Clemson

Hyatt has stepped right into the left tackle spot for Clemson, leading their offensive linemen with 302 snaps. He ranks second among true freshmen offensive tackles with a +3.7 pass block grade (two hurries on 145 attempts), but a -7.0 run blocking grade reflects his struggles.

  1. DT Rasheem Green, USC

Another rotational defensive tackle, Green has played 107 total snaps, grading at -0.5 against the run and +0.4 as a pass rusher. He’s notched a hit and four hurries on his 66 rushes.

  1. DT Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

A part of Clemson’s defensive line rotation with 147 total snaps, Wilkins is grading at +0.5 against the run and -1.0 as a pass rusher with two sacks and five hurries on 75 rushes.

  1. WR Christian Kirk, Texas A&M

Kirk leads all true freshmen receivers in overall grade (+6.1), receptions (32), and yards (519), while his 334 yards after the catch rank fifth in the entire nation. He’s become an instant playmaker for the Aggies in both the passing game and as a runner, while also adding an explosive threat to the return game (+2.4).

  1. G Chuma Edoga, USC

Edoga has seen the field in all five games, totaling 135 snaps at right tackle. He’s struggled in the run game at -3.4 and in pass protection at -4.3 (seven hurries on 63 attempts).

  1. WR Tyron Johnson, LSU

Johnson has played only 59 snaps this season, but he’s coming off a career high of 39 last week against South Carolina. He’s managed only six yards on his three catches while dropping one pass.

  1. WR Terry Godwin, Georgia

Seeing an increased role in recent weeks, Godwin has played 169 snaps on the season, catching 11 of his 19 targets for 125 yards (11.4 yards per reception). He’s forced four missed tackles on those 11 catches and he’s yet to drop a pass.

  1. DT Daron Payne, Alabama

Payne has become a bigger part of Alabama’s defensive line rotation in recent weeks, totaling 98 snaps on the year. He’s grading at +5.0 against the run with five stops and he’s added three hurries on 56 rushes.

  1. CB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama

Fitzpatrick has stepped in and played 287 snaps, mostly in the slot for the Crimson Tide. He’s grading at +3.1 overall and +2.7 in coverage, targeted 30 times, surrendering 18 catches for 110 yards and four passes defensed.

  1. RB Damien Harris, Alabama

The No. 3 running back in the rotation, Harris has picked up 105 yards on 31 carries this season while playing 66 total snaps. He’s forced only three missed tackles while averaging 2.5 yards after contact per rush.

  1. RB Soso Jamabo, UCLA

Carries have been hard to come by in UCLA’s backfield as Paul Perkins is their workhorse, but Jamabo has made the most of his 25 attempts, picking up 181 yards and a touchdown. He’s played only 47 snaps on the season, grading at -0.6 overall.

  1. QB Kyler Murray, Texas A&M

Backing up starter Kyle Allen, Murray has seen the field for 79 snaps, most of which came in Weeks 1 and 2. He’s completed 15-of-27 for 146 yards, throwing one touchdown and one interception, good for a passing grade of -0.9. As a runner, he’s picked up 116 yards on 12 carries, including 81 yards on five scrambles.

  1. OLB Justin Hilliard, Ohio State

Has yet to play a snap this season.

  1. OLB Osa Masina, USC

Masina has played 135 snaps in five games, grading at +2.7 against the run and -3.0 in coverage. He’s picked up a hit and four hurries on only 17 rushes.

  1. DE Kyle Phillips, Tennessee

Limited to only 42 snaps this season, 23 of which came against Western Carolina in week 3. He’s picked up a sack and a hurry on 28 rushes while grading at -2.4 overall on the year.

  1. G Maea Teuhema, LSU

Teuhema has played nearly every snap at left guard since Week 2, totaling 301 on the season. He’s grading at -0.8 in pass protection (one sack, one hit, three hurries on 99 attempts) while doing solid work as a run blocker at +0.1.

  1. QB Jarrett Stidham, Baylor

After throwing a touchdown pass on his first college throw, Stidham has put up huge numbers in a backup role for the Bears. He’s completed 22-of-26 passes for 310 yards and four touchdowns, good for a +3.4 passing grade.

  1. RB Jacques Patrick, FSU

Played only seven snaps this season, six of which came against Texas State in Week 1. He has 13 yards on his three carries.

  1. RB Ronald Jones II, USC

The No. 2 running back on the team, Jones II has picked up an impressive 307 yards on 38 carries (8.1 yards per carry), good for a +6.2 run grade that ranks second among all true freshmen. He’s averaged 4.95 yards after contact while posting an elusive rating of 126.8.

  1. OLB Porter Gustin, USC

Gustin has rotated in on the edge for USC, playing 154 snaps on the season. He’s rushed the passer 55 times, picking up a sack, three hits, and nine hurries for a pass rush grade of +0.4 while showing well against the run at +1.8.

  1. WR Damarkus Lodge, Ole Miss

Lodge’s 61 snaps have come in mop-up duty, including a career-high 25 against New Mexico State last weekend. He caught his only target for a 12-yard touchdown in week 1 against UT-Martin.

  1. RB Kerryon Johnson, Auburn

Played 42 snaps on the year, with 16 carries for 71 yards (4.4 yards/carry). He’s averaged only 1.9 yards after contact per rush.

  1. S Deionte Thompson, Alabama

Has yet to play a snap this season.

  1. QB Brandon Wimbush, Notre Dame

Wimbush played all 25 of his snaps against UMass in Week 4, completing three of five passes for 17 yards. The highlight was a 58-yard touchdown run and 92 total rushing yards on four carries that featured four missed tackles forced.

  1. RB Derrius Guice, LSU

Guice had only 13 carries on the season heading into the South Carolina game last weekend and he put together a huge performance with 161 yards on 16 carries. He forced eight missed tackles in the game, and has 12 on the season, a big part of his gaudy 248.9 elusive rating in his limited sample this year.

  1. LB Roquan Smith, Georgia

Only played 35 garbage-time snaps, but Smith has made an impact against the run in his limited time with a +2.1 grade and five stops.

  1. WR Preston Williams, Tennessee

Williams has been part of the wide receiver rotation all season, playing 148 total snaps. He’s been targeted 16 times, catching seven passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns, though he’s dropped three passes and also had a fumble.

  1. OLB John Houston, USC

Has yet to play a snap this season.

  1. DT Breiden Fehoko, Texas Tech

Fehoko’s 215 snaps lead all true freshmen interior defensive linemen as he’s become an integral part of Texas Tech’s defensive line rotation. He is grading at -4.5 against the run while picking up two hits and a hurry on 93 rushes (-1.3 pass rush).



| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.