The Campus Insiders 2016 Freshman All-American Team is led on offense by Alabama QB Jalen Hurts and defense by Houston DT Ed Oliver.
All of the future stars in college football are celebrated with the unveiling of Campus Insiders’ 2016 Freshman All-American Team, which is a mix of true freshmen and redshirt freshmen. Each player began the year without a snap of experience on their respective college resumes. All ended the regular season as building blocks of tomorrow after performing well beyond their years.
Offensive Freshman of the Year: QB Jalen Hurts, Alabama
Defensive Freshman of the Year: DT Ed Oliver, Houston
First Team Offense
QB Jalen Hurts, Alabama
Nick Saban likes having a senior behind center. This year, he had to settle for a true freshman who happens to carry himself like a senior. Hurts was the embodiment of poise as the Tide won a third straight SEC title, while providing the offense with new wrinkles and pass-run options. The First Team All-SEC selection is second on the team with 841 yards and 12 scores on the ground, adding 22 scores and 2,592 yards through the air.
RB Mike Weber, Ohio State
The Buckeyes needed a successor to Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield. Weber answered the bell by becoming just the third Ohio State rookie to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. The Big Ten Freshman of the Year has displayed toughness, both as a runner and a blocker, playing through shoulder pain for much of the season’s second half. Weber went over 100 yards in three of his first four games, but his touches were scaled back late in the year to prevent aggravating the injury.
RB Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M
Williams’ production declined late in the regular season, in part because the Aggies trailed so often. But he showed enough pop during A&M’s 6-0 start to be considered a cornerstone of the future in College Station. Williams is a game-breaker, who was averaging 8.6 yards a carry prior to the Oct. 22 contest against Alabama. Despite the quiet finish, he still finished the regular season with a team-high 1,024 yards and eight touchdowns on only 147 carries.
WR N’Keal Harry, Arizona State
Harry is as good as advertised. Now it’s up to the Sun Devil staff to develop the quarterbacks so that the budding star receiver’s potential is maximized. Harry is the total package at the position—size, ball skills and the quickness to make defenders whiff. In his debut out of high school, the blue-chip recruit ran for two scores and caught 58 passes for 659 yards and five more touchdowns, numbers that would have been higher if the situation behind center wasn’t so unsettled.
WR Ahmmon Richards, Miami
Fast. It describes the start of Richards’ career with the Hurricanes, as well as his most visible athletic trait. According to Miami’s numbers, Richards is a legit 4.3 sprinter. He’s a pretty good pass-catcher, too, pulling in 46 receptions for 866 yards and two touchdowns to smash Michael Irvin’s single-season yards mark for a freshman. Richards had three 100-yard games in November, an underlying reason Miami enters the postseason on a four-game winning streak.
TE Isaac Nauta, Georgia
It’s been a solid first season for Nauta, the nation’s most coveted tight end recruit a year ago. And far better days are ahead as he develops alongside fellow blue-chip true freshman QB Jacob Eason. Nauta is the prototype at the position, big enough to plow through tackles and athletic enough to beat linebackers down the seam. He currently ranks third on the Bulldogs with 27 receptions for 353 yards and three touchdowns.
OT Bobby Evans, Oklahoma
Evans didn’t start the opener against Houston, but after being promoted as part of a Week 2 O-line shakeup he never left the lineup. Evans not only started the final 11 games at right tackle, but he excelled as well. While built more like a guard at 6-foot-4 and 304 pounds, he has the feet and the athleticism to seal off the edge on opposing rushers. Evans has been a key cog in Oklahoma’s balanced, third-ranked scoring offense.
OG Gus Lavaka, Oregon State
Lavaka was a freshman in 2016, but hardly the typical freshman. He’s 22 years old, having spent the past couple of years as an LDS missionary on the Kingdom of Tonga. There was rust—and weight—to be shed in the summer, but the 6-4, 340-pounder gradually became more comfortable on the Beaver interior. In fact, he earned honorable mention All-Pac-12, laying the foundation for a promising future in Corvallis.
C Jake Hanson, Oregon
The Ducks started four freshmen O-linemen this season. Hanson is the linchpin of the youth movement up front, which will be inherited by Willie Taggart and his new staff. Hanson has the temperament, smarts and work ethic to blossom into the next Hroniss Grasu in Eugene, a steady leader at the pivot. The 6-5, 295-pound Hanson started every game of his first season, adding an exclamation point be being named honorable mention All-Pac-12.
OG Tim Lynott, Colorado
Lynott turned heads in the spring, setting the stage for a terrific fall as one of the lead blockers for QB Sefo Liufau and RB Phillip Lindsay. Lynott is an athletic and physical guard, getting to the second level in a hurry and rarely allowing the pocket to be compromised. He started every game on the right side during this breakout season for the Buffs, leading the team in touchdown blocks.
OT Jonah Williams, Alabama
It’s admittedly still early, but Williams has flashed all the signs of being the next great tackle in Tuscaloosa, following in a long and distinguished line of next-level edge blockers. Just a year removed from Folsom (Calif.) High School, he transitioned smoothly into the Bama lineup at right tackle. At 6-foot-5 and 296 pounds, he was built to contribute immediately. However, it’s been Williams’ technique and preparation that have really elevated him to such a high level at such an early stage of his Tide career.
First Team Defense
DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State
Who knows if Bosa will wind up as dominant in Columbus as older brother Joey was for three seasons? Who cares? The younger Bosa is carving out his own path and is going to be very special in his own right. He’s a powerful 6-foot-4, 265-pounder, with the strength and the technique to whip opposing tackles and harass quarterbacks. As a part of a deep rotation, Bosa came off the bench to collect seven tackles for loss and five sacks, the ground floor of what should be a decorated Buckeye career.
DT Dexter Lawrence, Clemson
Lawrence is just a big teddy bear … unless you’re on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage. Yeah, then he’ll destroy you with a freakish level of agility and quickness for a 6-foot-5, 340-pounder. Lawrence has contributed like a seasoned vet this season for the Tigers, collecting 59 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks and two blocked kicks to earn Second Team All-ACC. That a player Lawrence’s size ranks fourth on Clemson in tackles and second in sacks is a barometer of where he’s headed before the NFL scoops him up in 2019.
DT Ed Oliver, Houston
The most decorated recruit in Cougar history, and he performed like it every week of his first season on campus. Oliver is compact and quick off the snap, schooling opposing linemen with his get-off and quick-twitch athleticism. However, he also craves greatness and plays with an unusually high motor for an athlete with his raw ability. Oliver leads the country’s interior linemen with 19.5 tackles for loss, while also notching 61 stops, five sacks, nine pass breakups and three forced fumbles.
DE Reggie Walker, Kansas State
Walker is built like an outside linebacker. He moves like one, too, and therein lies the problem for tackles trying to keep the pocket clean. Walker is only 6-2 and 235 pounds, the latter of which will surely increase before the start of next season. But he’s very quick, uses his hands well and plays to the whistle. Forming a bookend with Jordan Willis, Walker has notched 11 stops for loss, 6.5 sacks and three forced fumbles to earn Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year.
LB Troy Dye, Oregon
Last year, Dye was playing for Norco (Calif.) High School. This fall? He was voted honorable mention All-Pac-12 as well as the Ducks’ Most Outstanding Defensive Player. Dye is an exceptional all-around athlete, with the range, closing speed and instincts to evolve quickly, especially after packing on some good pounds to his lean, 6-4-225-pound frame. He missed the Oct. 1 Washington State game, yet still led Oregon in tackles (91), stops for loss (13) and sacks (six).
LB Joe Giles-Harris, Duke
There wasn’t a ton to cheer about in Durham this fall. Giles-Harris was one of the notable exceptions. He had a knack for being around the ball, finishing with a team-high 107 tackles, 9.5 stops for minus yards and four sacks from weakside to earn honorable mention All-ACC. In just his second game, Giles-Harris, a quick study, registered 15 stops, including 11 solos. The student of the game will continue improving his reads and his angles with another offseason of study and practice.
LB Shaq Quarterman, Miami
There’s a bit of a youth movement taking place in Mark Richt’s debut season with the Canes. And Quarterman is the baby face of Manny Diaz’s D. Quarterman won the starting job in the middle during spring and never looked back. He’s tied for the team lead with 79 stops, including nine tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and eight quarterback hurries, a mainstay of a unit allowing just 18.9 points per game. Plus, Quarterman is a punishing hitter who’ll deploy airbags when he lowers his shoulders.
CB Xavier Crawford, Oregon State
Crawford is one of the young building blocks of Gary Andersen’s defense in Corvallis. After greyshirting in 2014 and redshirting in 2015, Crawford started every game this past year, improving in coverage as his first season of action unfolded. At 6-foot-1 and 188 pounds, he has the length to match the taller Pac-12 receivers, and his 70 tackles and 10 pass breakups led to honorable mention all-league recognition in December.
S Jessie Bates, Wake Forest
The Demon Deacons develop players that other schools overlook. Bates, for example. He’s a Fort Wayne, Indiana kid who was overlooked by every Big Ten school except Iowa, which also excels at unearthing hidden gems. Bates has already exceeded expectations after redshirting in 2015 to get bigger, stronger and more comfortable with the speed of the game. The Second Team All-ACC selection has 93 stops, including a team-high 65 solos, while also intercepting five passes, two of which were pick-sixes.
S Taylor Rapp, Washington
When Budda Baker heads to the NFL, either in 2017 or 2018, Rapp is poised to be his successor in the Husky secondary. Rapp shares many of the same attributes as Baker—versatile and tough with the instincts to alter the tempo of a game. Rapp only started when U-Dub employed five defensive backs, yet he still made enough of an impression to be named the Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year. He has 45 tackles and four picks, two in the league championship game.
CB Julian Love, Notre Dame
The Irish defense will be under new ownership in 2017. Love, though, already solidified an important role with his play in the fall. He possesses the requisite size and athleticism to excel at this level. But it’s his ability to quickly pick up new assignments that helped make him a versatile contributor in his first season out of Nazareth (Ill.) Academy. Love focused on playing corner in 2016, making 45 stops, three pass breakups and marked improvement in coverage throughout the year.
First Team Special Teams
PK Louie Zervos, Ohio
Frank Solich traveled all the way to Tarpon Springs, Florida to land Zervos, and the coach couldn’t be happier with his choice for Bobcat kicker of the future. Zervos provided Ohio with points when the offense stalled in the red zone, hitting 26-of-31 field goals, highlighted by a 51-yarder. Those 26 three-pointers are tied for most in the country, and are the main reason he was named to the All-MAC First Team.
P Sterling Hofrichter, Syracuse
Hofrichter began the year with the unenviable task of replacing Riley Dixon, who now punts for the Denver Broncos. So far, so good. Hofrichter is more of a directional, crafty specialist than the booming Dixon. But expectations were exceeded last season. Hofrichter averaged 42.7 yards an attempt, placed 24 of his 77 punts inside the opponent’s 20 and was honored with a spot on the All-ACC Third Team.
Second Team Offense
QB Sam Darnold, USC
RB Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
RB Benny Snell, Jr., Kentucky
WR Dimetrios Mason, Missouri
WR Demetris Robertson, Cal
TE Daniel Imatorbhebhe, USC
OT Ben Bredeson, Michigan
OG Jon Dietzen, Wisconsin
C Erik McCoy, Texas A&M
OG Michael Jordan, Ohio State
OT Calvin Throckmorton, Oregon
Second Team Defense
DE Joe Jackson, Miami
DT Kevin Givens, Penn State
DT Dre’Mont Jones, Ohio State
DE Anthony Nelson, Iowa
LB Markus Bailey, Purdue
LB Leo Lewis, Mississippi State
LB Logan Wilson, Wyoming
CB Javaris Davis, Auburn
S Marcelino Ball, Indiana
S Brenden Schooler, Oregon
CB Jaylon Jones, Ole Miss
Second Team Special Teams
PK Ricky Aguayo, Florida State
P Dom Maggio, Wake Forest
QB: Jake Bentley (South Carolina), Shane Buechele (Texas), Jacob Eason (Georgia), Deondre Francois (Florida State), Justin Herbert (Oregon), Ben Hicks (SMU), Alex Hornibrook (Wisconsin), Tyree Jackson (Buffalo), Daniel Jones (Duke), McKenzie Milton (UCF) and Chason Virgil (Fresno State)
RB: Reggie Corbin (Illinois), Damarea Crockett (Missouri), Rico Dowdle (South Carolina), Chris Evans (Michigan), Lorenzo Harrison (Maryland), JaMycal Hasty (Baylor), Josh Jacobs (Alabama), Adrian Killins (UCF), Dedrick Mills (Georgia Tech), David Montgomery (Iowa State), Devin Singletary (Florida Atlantic), Devwah Whaley (Arkansas), Charles Williams (UNLV) and James Williams (Washington State)
WR: Donnie Corley (Michigan State), Van Jefferson (Ole Miss), Deshaunte Jones (Iowa State), Ty Lee (Middle Tennessee), Blake Lynch (Baylor), James Proche (SMU), Kevin Stepherson (Notre Dame) and John Ursua (Hawaii)
TE: Austin Cantrell (Arkansas), Brycen Hopkins (Purdue) and Mitchell Wilcox (South Florida)
OL: Hakeem Adeniji (Kansas), Ryan Bates (Penn State), Parker Braun (Georgia Tech), Coy Cronk (Indiana), Terrance Davis (Maryland), Landon Dickerson (Florida State), Kevin Dotson (Louisiana-Lafayette), Jack Driscoll (Massachusetts), Tommy Hatton (North Carolina), Scott Frantz (Kansas State), Bryce Harris (Toledo), Elijah Johnson (Boston College), Victor Johnson (Appalachian State), Josh Jones (Houston), Luke Juriga (Western Michigan), Marcus Keyes (Oklahoma State), Greg Little (Ole Miss), Colton McKivitz (West Virginia), Matt Peart (Connecticut), Ean Pfeifer (Vanderbilt), Zach Shackelford (Texas) and Jawaan Taylor (Florida)
DL: McTelvin Agim (Arkansas), JaQuan Bailey (Iowa State), Brian Burns (Florida State), Marlon Davidson (Auburn), Carlos Davis (Nebraska), Joe Dillon (Louisiana-Lafayette), Clelin Ferrell (Clemson), Neville Gallimore (Oklahoma), Rashan Gary (Michigan), Joe Gaziano (Northwestern), Benito Jones (Ole Miss), Robert Landers (Ohio State), Jamal Milan (Illinois), Malcolm Roach (Texas), Julian Rochester (Georgia), Tim Settle (Virginia Tech), Jeffery Simmons (Mississippi State), Jonathan Wilson (Memphis) and Jabari Zuniga (Florida)
LB: D.J. Beavers (Washington), Jordyn Brooks (Texas Tech), Calvin Bundage (Oklahoma State), Omari Cobb (Marshall), Caleb Kelly (Oklahoma), Bryan London (Texas State), David Long (West Virginia), Jordan Mack (Virginia), Michael Pinckney (Miami), David Reese (Florida) and Josiah Tauaefa (UTSA)
DB: Ben Deluca (Charlotte), Clifton Duck (Appalachian State), Alohi Gilman (Navy), Javon Hagan (Ohio), Austin Hall (Memphis), Dayan Lake (BYU), Mike Lee (Kansas), Patrick Nelson (Illinois), Jordan Parker (Oklahoma), A’Shon Riggins (Indiana), Jalen Thompson (Washington State), Justin Tranquill (Western Michigan), Trae Williams (Northwestern) and Antoine Winfield (Minnesota)
PK: Rodrigo Blankenship (Georgia), Aaron Boumerhi (Temple) and Paul Fricano (Eastern Michigan)
P: Michael Farkas (Ohio), Blake Gillikin (Penn State), Josh Growden (LSU), Mason King (Louisville), Adam Nunez (TCU) and Tom Sheldon (North Carolina)