I received some feedback about a few deserving freshman players that quite frankly we missed in our previous updates. So here’s one last update to the Freshman of Influence series for this season. I had several offensive linemen suggested to me…so I included a few. I’m continually amazed at the athletic backgrounds of players at all positions but particularly the linemen.
Freshman of Influence – the misses
Obviously this guy is deserving as the leading rusher of the second ranked team in the nation. Newton gained 513 yards on 102 carries for six touchdowns and 12 receptions for 106 yards. Being from Texas it should not surprise anyone that Newton was a high school track athlete at Southlake Carroll High. Newton ran (10.87) 100 meters and (21’02) long jump at the 2005 District 5-5A Meet and was a member of 4×100 (42.45) and 4×200 (1:31.05) relay teams at 2007 District 5-5A Meet.
This freshman turned some heads with his play at right guard for the Aztecs. At 6’04 and 290 pounds he’s got the frame to be a dominant player. Embernate was a very solid high school shot putter at Yucaipa High School in California. His best shot put effort was 54’06 at the CIF Southern Section Division 1 Preliminaries.
This redshirt freshman overcame a bumpy start to his career at Iowa and had a solid season at guard for the Hawkeyes. At 6’06 he’s an imposing player that should continue to get better. He was a three-time state champion wrestler in South Dakota while at Parkston High School. He was twice state champion at the 215 pound class and once at 275 pound (heavyweight) class. In addition, Reiff was the Class A state runner-up in the shot put (54’05) as a junior in 2007.
This true freshman ‘backer has the Horned Frogs pointed in the right direction for the future and will be a major contributor to their top notch defense. For the season he was credited with 31 tackles, one TFL and 1 forced fumble. Brock also threw a little shot put in high school. He attended Copperas Cove High School (Texas) and threw at his regional track meet. His best throw was 49’07.
One of Illinois’ few bright spots this season…this freshman corner made some exciting plays including and interception returned for a touchdown. Hawthorne had 30 tackles and five PBUs in 12 games. He also dabbled a bit in track and field while attending East St. Louis High School in Illinois. He was a part of the school’s 1600 meter relay team that finished fourth at the state meet with a time of (3:17.86)….was a high school teammate of Wisconsin’s freshman wide receiver, Kraig Appleton.
DeCastro had an eye-opening season as a redshirt freshman starter on the O-line. Listed at 6’05 and 310 pounds, DeCastro helped clear holes for Stanford’s Toby Gerhart. His size and athleticism, evidenced by his state champion shot putter status, make for the prototypical super lineman in the coming years. He won the Class 3A shot put state championship while at Bellevue High School in Washington. His winning throw was 58’09.
Another true freshman defensive back that made an early impact with his team. Trufant had two interceptions, 47 tackles, one fumble returned for touchdown, six PBUs and two TFLs. Trufant was a super triple jumper in high school (Woodrow Wilson, Washington). In fact, he was the Class 4A state runner-up in the triple jump (46’05) and was a member of state qualifying 400 relay (42.77) also long jumped with a best of (22’08).
This redshirt freshman displayed amazing athleticism winning South Carolina’s Class 4A triple jump title going 48’03″ as a senior attending Beaufort High School. His listed height 6’07 and weight of 232 pounds made him an almost can’t miss talent and he’s delivered. Taylor’s made 26 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, two sacks, two blocked kicks and one forced fumble over 12 games. For good measure he also high jumped (6’04) and threw the shot put (48’05) and discus (146’10) in high school.
This is easily one of the most interesting freshman stories of the college season. Hunt a 6’08, 22-year-old, Junior World Champion shot put and discus thrower is playing football for the first time . He attended SMU with the hopes of resurrecting the track program and training under coach Dave Wollman. But a few chance encounters with SMU football coaches and he decided to give football a try. The results have been pretty amazing…12 games, seven tackles, 1.5 TFLs, 1.5 sacks, one PBU…AND SEVEN BLOCKED KICKS, led the nation in that category. He’s got a lot to learn but head coach June Jones believes Hunt might be a future NFL lineman.
Here’s a good link getting Hunt’s insights on his transition to football.