News & Analysis

The nation's top-graded true freshman at every offensive position, through Week 11

By Cam Mellor
Nov 14, 2018

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Nov 10, 2018; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Brock Purdy (15) celebrates after catching a pass for the 2 point conversion against the Baylor Bears at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones beat the Bears 28-14. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

With our release this week of how every 5-star recruit has graded to date, it got us thinking about how well other true freshmen that may not have received a 5-star billing coming out of high school have graded this season. Some true freshmen have dominated action this year when given the shot and today, we outline the top-graded true freshman at every offensive position through 11 weeks of action.

This list is brought to you by Eckrich, the Official Smoked Sausage of the College Football Playoff.

Quarterback

Brock Purdy, Iowa State – 89.8

Purdy has been officially handed the torch in Ames, and in four starts this season, has given Cyclones fans wins against West Virginia, Texas Tech, at Kansas and against Baylor. He has not graded lower than 73.3 in a single game and is coming off his best career game against Baylor where he finished with a 91.8 overall grade. He’s handled pressure better than most quarterbacks, currently holding a 93.7 grade when pressured as he’s completed 23-of-37 passes for 429 yards and 6 touchdowns against no interceptions.

Purdy’s 141.8 passer rating when pressured is the best mark in the nation among qualified signal-callers.

True Freshman QBs, Nos. 2-10:

Alan Bowman, Texas Tech – 79.5
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson – 78.9
Adrian Martinez, Nebraska – 77.2
Sam Hartman, Wake Forest – 76.2
Zach Wilson, BYU – 73.8
Tyler Vitt, Texas State – 70.5
M.J. Rivers II, Illinois – 68.5
Holton Ahlers, ECU – 67.2
Zack Annexstad, Minnesota – 61.1

Running Back

Marcel Murray, Arkansas State – 84.0

Murray has toted the ball 104 times this season for the Red Wolves, forcing 29 missed tackles on those carries and gaining 439 of his 640 rushing yards after contact. He has scored seven touchdowns and accumulated 27 more first downs on his carries as he averages 4.22 yards after contact per attempt.

He has also chipped in with another 13 receptions for 134 yards and two more scores. He’s forced six additional missed tackles after the catch to give him 35 total missed tackles forced this year.

True Freshman RBs, Nos 2-10:

Tavion Thomas, Cincinnati – 81.9
Pooka Williams Jr., Kansas – 81.7
Johnny Ford, USF – 80.7
Jermar Jefferson, Oregon State – 78.1
Maurice Washington, Nebraska – 77.8
Jashaun Corbin, Texas A&M – 76.5
Leddie Brown, West Virginia – 76.2
Isaiah Bowser, Northwestern – 75.7
Dameon Pierce, Florida – 75.6

Wide Receiver

Justyn Ross, Clemson – 84.7

Ross leads the nation with an absurd 4.33 yards per route run this season, hauling in 495 yards on 25 receptions. He’s forced seven missed tackles and 17 of his 25 total receptions have either gone for a first down or a touchdown. He averages 8.9 yards after the catch per reception, pacing all the nation’s true freshman receivers.

True Freshman WRs, Nos. 2-10:

Rondale Moore, Purdue – 84.0
Jaylen Waddle, Alabama – 83.2
Jayden Reed, Western Michigan – 77.3
Elijah Moore, Ole Miss – 75.8
Amon-Ra St. Brown, USC – 75.3
Jeshaun Jones, Maryland – 74.4
KeSean Carter, Texas Tech – 72.9
Rashod Bateman, Minnesota – 72.0
Tyleek Collins, UNLV – 70.7

Tight End

Brant Kuithe, Utah – 78.8

Kuithe and teammate Cole Fotheringham top the list here as Kuithe leads the two with 17 receptions for 191 yards. He’s gained 113 yards after the catch, good enough for second among freshman tight ends. He’s forced two additional missed tackles after the catch and nine of his receptions have either gone for a touchdown or first down.

True Freshman TEs, Nos. 2:5:

Cole Fotheringham, Utah – 74.4
Pat Freiermuth, Penn State – 65.3
Brevin Jordan, Miami (Fl.) – 61.0
Henry Pearson, Appalachian State – 60.6

Offensive Tackle

Penei Sewell, Oregon – 81.8

Sewell’s regular season likely came to an end after suffering a high ankle sprain against Washington but he may be able to return for the Ducks’ bowl game at this point. Regardless, Sewell started the first six games of the season and was absolutely dominant. He allowed just five pressures across 179 pass-blocking snaps and also led all freshman tackles with his 75.6 run-blocking grade.

True Freshman OTs, Nos. 2-5:

Brady Christensen, BYU – 71.0
Dylan Wonnum, South Carolina – 67.6
Zuri Henry, UTEP – 66.0
Donovan Jennings, USF – 65.6

Interior Offensive Line

OG Cade Mays, Georgia – 74.0

Mays has been thrust into the lineup for the Bulldogs across the line, logging 179 snaps at left tackle but the majority of his total snaps this season (312) have come at right guard. In pass protection, he’s allowed just nine pressures on 217 pass-blocking snaps but his run-blocking prowess has separated him from his freshman counterparts. His 76.0 run-blocking grade is 9.0 grade points higher than the next closest player in their debut season.

True Freshman Interior O-Line, Nos. 2-5:

C James Empey, BYU – 72.1
C Trace Clopton, Southern Miss – 68.2
G Jalen Momerelle, Texas State – 64.6
C Brad Cecil, USF – 64.1

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