- Detroit’s Heidelberg art project hit by 8 fires in 8 months
- Pa. police pull people over for random DNA tests for feds
- NASA pushing hard to get back into space game
- Harvard student to face federal charges for bomb hoax
- Ronnie Biggs of ‘Great Train Robbery’ fame dies, 84
- Pope Francis wins another ‘Person of the Year’ — from gay rights magazine
- Rep. Steve Stockman: Give my campaign $10, and you’ll get an Obama barf bag
- Putin: Russia to buy $15 billion in Ukraine bonds
- Expert: Obamacare ‘death spiral’ fears exaggerated
- Alabama firefighters dig for survivors of apartment blast
17 freshmen have hit field for both UCLA, Aggies
Back in the day, a college football coach had a stock answer ready when asked to evaluate his latest recruiting class. He’d say to check back in two or three years, after those players had chances to show what they can do.
There’s no need to wait anymore. This season has shown lots of freshmen are ready, willing and able to play _ and often start.
“For us, we’re going to play the best players, the guys who give us the best chance to win, and right now that’s some freshmen,” UCLA coach Jim Mora said. “So we’re playing a bunch of them.”
The 12th-ranked Bruins and No. 14 Texas A&M each have played 17 true freshmen this season. In fact, 13 are listed among the top 22 players on each team’s depth chart.
An Associated Press analysis of the 72 teams in automatic-qualifying BCS conferences and Notre Dame showed that 359 freshmen were listed as first- or second-stringers on this week’s depth charts, not including special teams. That represented almost 12 percent of 3,212 players.
Of those 359, 72 were starters. No. 8 Stanford was the only program that did not list a freshman on its two-deep.
The rapid emergence of youngsters is no surprise to football people. The consensus, from interviews with high school and college coaches, pointed to several factors.
Strength-and-conditioning training has become more sophisticated and closed the physical gap between freshmen and older players. There are more opportunities for year-round, football-specific training through camps, seven-on-seven leagues and personal coaches.
The growing emphasis on video study at the high-school level has made players smarter. The up-tempo spread offenses are more common, allowing quarterbacks and receivers to make quick transitions to the college game.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said the reliance on freshmen has naturally increased since the scholarship limit dropped to 85 in 1994. A run of injuries can force a team to go young. But so can a need for talent.
“You don’t necessarily change but you adapt your offense and defense to make it user-friendly for a young player to play,” said Meyer, who noted that the Buckeyes adapt their offense when speedy running back Dontre Wilson enters a game.
Receiver was the offensive position that had the most freshmen on the two-deeps, with 66. There were 84 defensive backs.
Nine of the 22 freshman quarterbacks on the two-deep charts have started. California’s Jared Goff is tied for 10th in the nation at 319 yards passing per game, and Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg is 17th at 278.
It’s not just four- and five-star recruits like Goff and Hackenberg who are playing right away. Walk-on Baker Mayfield became the first true freshman to start an opener at quarterback for Texas Tech. Davis Webb, another true freshman who was a three-star, took over for Mayfield after the fifth game. The pair has led the Red Raiders to a 7-0 start and a No. 10 ranking.
Some of the other top rookies: Houston’s John O’Korn leads all freshmen with 14 touchdown passes. Virginia Tech cornerback Brandon Facyson has four interceptions. Colorado linebacker Addison Gillam is averaging almost 10 tackles per game. Joey Bosa has become a force on Ohio State’s defensive line. So has Georgia’s Leonard Floyd.
By John R. Bolton
The president fiddles at his domestic altar while the world burns
- U.S. Army mulls wiping out memory of Robert E. Lee, 'Stonewall' Jackson
- PRUDEN: The scam that will not die
- Gov't wasted $30 billion on 'pillownauts,' crystal goblets -- buying human urine!
- Top Democrats reject court ruling over NSA spying on Americans
- BOLTON: Nero in the White House
- White House is obstructing probe on Navy Yard shooter, NSA leaker, Darrell Issa says
- We told you so: Conservatives foresaw polygamy ruling
- Colorado revolt: 55 of 62 sheriffs refuse to enforce new gun laws
- Senators in rush to pass budget vow to undo cut to military retirement pay
- Embassy Row: India strikes back over diplomat's arrest
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Politics, economics, and business from a real world perspective.
Television commentary, reviews, news and nonstop DVR catch-up by Lisa King Dolloff and friends.
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow