Tuesday, December 15, 2009
The 10 best true freshmen in the SEC
By ESPN.com staff ESPN.com
We’ve seen the SEC’s All-Freshman team, and a few Freshman All-America teams are floating around out there.
But who were the top 10 true freshmen in the SEC in 2009?
Warren Norman broke Herschel Walker's freshman record for all-purpose yards.
Based largely on their production and performance this season, and to a lesser degree their potential, here you go:
1. Warren Norman, RB, Vanderbilt: Led the SEC with 1,941 all-purpose yards and broke Herschel Walker’s freshman record for all-purpose yards. Rushed for 783 yards to finish eighth in the league in rushing and returned three kickoffs for touchdowns.
2. Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina: Led all SEC freshman receivers with 43 catches for 735 yards and six touchdowns. Jeffery finished sixth in the SEC in receiving yards per game (61.2) and also averaged 17.1 yards per catch.
3. Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina: Started at cornerback all 12 games for the Gamecocks. He led the team with nine passes defended and was fifth with 52 tackles. Also returned punts and lined up at quarterback in the Wildcat formation in the win over Clemson.
4. Daren Bates, S, Auburn: Started all 12 games at safety and was fourth on Auburn’s team with 63 tackles, which led all SEC freshmen. Included were 2.5 tackles for loss, and he also had an interception for the Tigers.
5. Chad Bumphis, WR, Mississippi State: Started in six games and led the Bulldogs in catches (32), receiving yards (375) and receiving touchdowns (4). Also had a rushing touchdown and returned kickoffs and punts.
6. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama: Backed up Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and was second on Alabama’s team with 642 yards rushing and six touchdowns. Also caught 14 passes and showed off his explosiveness with a 52-yard touchdown run against Arkansas.
7. Washaun Ealey, RB, Georgia: Only started in two games, but led the Bulldogs with 639 yards rushing. He averaged 5.7 yards per carry and averaged 103.4 yards in his last five games. Ealey had 183 yards on the ground in the win over Georgia Tech.
8. Johnthan Banks, S, Mississippi State: Started in seven games and tied for second on the team with four interceptions, which led all SEC true freshmen. He intercepted Tim Tebow twice in the Florida game and returned both for touchdowns.
9. Orson Charles, TE, Georgia: Capable of lining up at several different spots in the passing game, Charles started in two games and was third on Georgia’s team with 21 catches for 366 yards and three touchdowns. He averaged 17.4 yards per catch.
10. Nico Johnson, LB, Alabama: His role increased after Dont’a Hightower went down with a knee injury. Johnson started in two games and had 25 tackles, including 3.5 for loss, and he also broke up two passes and forced a fumble.