A three part series that takes a look into the 5 Star recruits and how they fared in their first season on campus.
Part 2 looks at recruits ranked 9-16 heading into least season. Clemson’s Sammy Watkins and Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas lead this group and it’s amazing what they were able to accomplish as true freshamn. They both were key figures in their teams success, and the sky is the limit for both of these game breakers.
Note: Ratings are based on an average of the top recruiting services around the web.
16. WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
Season Stats: Receiving: 82-1219, 12 TD’s Rushing: 32-243 yards Return:s 33 Kick Returns for 826 yards 1 TD
What he did: What didn’t he do? Watkins was Mr. Everything for the Tigers last season. He was a consensus national freshman of the year and was only the third true freshman to make the All-American First Team(Herschel Walker in 1980 and Adrian Peterson in 2004 being the others). Watkins accounted for 1,456 yards from scrimmage while averaging 12.7 yards every time he touched the ball. In a win against Maryland, Watkins 345 all-purpose yards was the 4th highest in ACC history. Had two 10 catches games, and had 3 games in which he scored multiple touchdowns. Mel Kiper had this quote about Watkins “Freshman Sammy Watkins would be a top-5 pick if he was allowed in this upcoming NFL draft.”
What to look for: Named to multiple Preseason All-American 1st team list while also being named ACC preseason player of the year. Watkins is easily the best WR in the conference, and one of the best in the entire country. Clemson loses John Mackey Award winner Dwayne Allen, so the Defenses should, and will focus their attention on Watkins. It could be hard for him to finish third on the team in rushing, and amass over 80 catches again, but make no mistake, as Sammy Watkins goes, so do the Tigers.
15. RB Brandon Williams, Oklahoma
Season Stats: 46 carries for 219 yards
What he did: Williams had an excellent shot early on at becoming the top backup behind Roy Finch for the Sooners. However with the emergence if Dominique Whaley in week 1, Williams quickly found himself at the bottom of the depth chart. Didn’t see action until the 4th game, and a season best of 80 yards rushing on 11 carries against Iowa St.
What to look for: Williams transfered to Texas A&M this offseason and will be in line for a larger workload for the Aggies in 2013.
14. RB James Wilder, Florida St
Season Stats: 35 carries for 161 yards
What he did: Started of the season 4th on the depth chart, and was unable to take advantage of injuries by other RB’s and was quickly overshadowed by fellow true freshman RB Devonta Freeman. Had a season high 10 carries against Charleston Southern, but never really got into a groove offensively. Was productive however on special teams in punt and kickoff coverage units.
What to look for: Served 11 days in jail for violating his probation this offseason. Had a strong spring and looks to figure more into the offense even though he will be #2 on the depth chart and pushed by another highly touted freshman Mario Pender.
13. S Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, Alabama
Season Stats: 11 tackles, 2 pbu
What he did: 2012 was spent as a learning season has Clinton-Dix sat behind 1st round pick Mark Barron. Saw most of his action on Special Teams and in mop-up duty.
What to look for: With Barron gone, Clinton-Dix will be in a tight battle with Vinnie Sunseri for the starting spot alongside Robert Lester. He won the most-improved freshamn award after the spring game and could have one of the bigger breakout seasons among players on this list.
12. RB De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon
Season Stats: Rushing: 55-595 yards 9 TD’s Receiving: 46-605 9 TD’s Returns: 36 Kick Returns for 983 yards and 2 TD’s
What he did: Aside from Sammy Watkins, Thomas was the most dynamic freshman last season. His versatility and game breaking speed was one of the reason why the Ducks won 12 games last season. In his only 2 carries in the Rose Bowl, he found the end-zone both times from 64 yrds and 91 yards out. Was named to the Pac-12 First Team as a kick returner, and to several freshman All-American 1st team list. Also was named Pac-12 Co-Freshman of the Year with USC’s Marquis Lee Finished 11th nationally in total yardage.
What to look for: Thomas’ success going forward is only limited by Chip Kelly’s imagination. “There are some things in practice that he’s done that just make you go, ‘Wow!'” Kelly said. “He was like that from the start last year. … He’s a smart kid, he understands concepts well. We’ll keep adding to his plate a little bit.” With LaMichael James, Lavasier Tuinei, and David Paulson all gone, Thomas will be by far the biggest weapon for the Ducks. If Oregon continues to win, and the touches kept coming for Thomas, you have to consider him a darkhorse Heisman contender.
11. RB Isaiah Crowell, Georgia
Season Stats: 185 carries for 850 yards with 5 TD’s
What he did: With Caleb King being lost over the summer due to academics, Crowell was handed the starting job for the Bulldogs. Crowell lead the team in rushing and rushing TD’s as a true freshman. Tallied four 100 yard games with high of 147 against Ole Miss. His season ended ugly as he was suspended twice and only managed 29 yards in the final 4 games. However, was still named the SEC Freshman of the Year by the AP and earned Freshamn All-American honors.
What to look for: Was arrested on three weapons charges, two being felonies and was dismissed from the team. Chose to transfer to Alabama State in July and will be eligible to play this fall.
10. WR George Farmer, USC
Season Stats: Rushing: 5-15 yards Receiving: 4-42 yards
What he did: Many thought Farmer would redshirt, but wasted that chance when he appeared in the 6th game of the season against Cal. Switched to more of a RB role, and Farmer was left searching for constant playing time. His best game came against Notre Dame when he touched the ball twice for a total of 29 yards.
What to look for: After moving back to WR in the Spring, Farmer should be the Trojans #3 wideout behind Marquis Lee and Robert Woods. With Matt Barkley under center, Farmer should see his fair share of opportunities this season. He gives USC an added dimension with his versatility in the run game and as a potential returner on Special Teams.
9. LB Curtis Grant, Ohio St.
Season Stats: 2 tackles
What he did: Took his lumps as a freshman and barely saw the field. Finished the season with only 2 tackles and wasted a possible redshirt season. Did recover a fumble against Wisconsin which lead to a TD.
What to look for: After a stellar spring and loss of weight, Grant is poised for huge 2012. With the dismissal of former starting LB Storm Klien, Curtis Grant will be the Buckeyes starting MLB against Miami(OH) week 1. Grant is a breakout player waiting to happen this season.
Jeremy Cabler covers the NFL Draft and College Football for Rant Sports. Check out his Scouting Reports