Top 10 Freshmen Performances from Week 6 of College Football
College football has a ridiculous amount of talented freshmen who are quickly becoming the stars of their team. Forget the senior who feels like he's been on the team for a decade, today's game is all about the young blood who are fresh out of high school and dominating the veterans of the sport.
Quarterbacks, running backs and defensive players—it doesn't matter which side of the ball these players are most comfortable, they're taking the bull by the horns and playing at an extremely high level. Week 6 of the college football season was no different.
Which freshmen had the biggest impact?
10. Jared Afalava, LB, Nebraska
A Nebraska defensive player makes the list? This can't be real.
Redshirt freshman Jared Afalava made his first career start in a 39-19 win over Illinois. He was making plays all over the field, as he finished the game with eight tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack.
His contributions were overshadowed, thanks to running back Ameer Abdullah rushing for 225 yards, but the young linebacker didn't shy away from the big moment and played his heart out.
Nebraska has been horrendous defensively the last two seasons. Maybe giving younger players is the key to turning things around. It certainly didn't hurt putting Afalava in the game.
9. Baker Mayfield, QB, Texas Tech
Quarterback Baker Mayfield had his best performance since the season opener against Southern Methodist. He threw the ball 51 times and completed 64.7 percent of his passes for 368 yards in Texas Tech's 54-16 win over Kansas.
He also rushed for 23 yards and a touchdown.
What's crazy about this performance is that Mayfield left in the third quarter with a knee injury. Just imagine what his statistics could have been had he played the entire game.
Mayfield has been a solid quarterback for the Red Raiders and seems to only be getting better with time.
8. Joey Bosa, DL, Ohio State
Ask anybody who wagered on Ohio State and they'll tell you Joey Bosa is their favorite player. The last play of the Northwestern-Ohio State game was a gamblers dream and Las Vegas' worst nightmare, as Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer described.
But besides being the player who fell on the loose ball for a touchdown to help the Buckeyes cover the spread, Bosa played a solid all-around game. He had five tackles and two sacks to go along with the first touchdown of his collegiate career.
If Bosa is never productive again for Ohio State, he'll at least always be remembered as the guy who helped degenerates cash in big.
7. Shock Linwood, RB, Baylor
Lache Seastrunk who?
While Baylor fans aren't ready to go that far, it's nice to know that the Bears have more than one running back who can help carry the load. As Baylor dropped an incredible 73 points in its victory over West Virginia, freshman Shock Linwood stepped in and ran for 126 yards and a touchdown.
He only touched the ball 14 times, averaging a whopping nine yards per carry!
It was easily the best game of his young career and should be good enough to help him see more playing time in the near future. As the Bears continue to make their run towards a Big 12 title and possible BCS bowl, they will need Linwood to continue to play at this level.
6. J.J. Green, RB, Georgia
Does Georgia ever run out of talented running backs?
When Keith Marshall left the game against Tennessee with an injury, freshman J.J. Green stepped in and ran for 129 yards on 17 carries. It was his first game with more than two carries and his production was crucial in helping the Bulldogs pull off a 34-31 overtime victory against the Volunteers.
Whether it's Todd Gurley, Marshall or Green, it seems like anybody could become a star running back for Georgia. Even with Marshall out for the season, Georgia should be fine as long as Green can continue to carry the rock this effectively.
5. Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
Penn State didn't perform the way it would have liked, as the Nittany Lions lost their first game ever to Indiana in a 44-24 blowout on the road.
But it's hard to blame Christian Hackenberg for the loss.
The promising quarterback threw for 340 yards and three touchdowns. Sure, he could have completed more passes than the 30 out of 55 attempts, but Indiana did a nice job with pressure and forcing him to get rid of the ball quickly.
Hackenberg did what he could to keep Penn State in the game until things began to unravel in the fourth quarter.
4. Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
That's the Jaylon Smith Irish fans were hoping to see when he committed to Notre Dame.
The freshman linebacker came up big in the 37-34 win over Arizona State, as he led the way with nine tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, a broken up pass and a forced fumble. It was easily the best game of his career and was a clear sign that he is beginning to find his comfort zone within the defense.
Smith was a highly recruited player in 2013 and was expected to contribute right away. However, he's gotten off to a slow start this season. If he can build off this performance, Notre Dame's defense will start looking like the defense from 2012.
3. Jared Goff, QB, Cal
It's safe to say that California hit the jackpot with quarterback Jared Goff. Although the Bears have lost four of five games, they can't blame the freshman quarterback who has played out of his mind right out of the gate.
In a 44-22 loss to Washington State, Goff set a school record with 504 passing yards, surpassing Pat Barnes, who set the record in 1996. Goff also threw for two touchdowns in the losing effort.
Yes, Cal has a ways to go before seriously competing in the Pac-12, but as long as its quarterback continues to progress, better days are right around the corner.
2. Addison Gillam, LB, Colorado
Addison Gillam continues to come up big for Colorado and is looking more and more like one of the best freshman in the country.
In a 57-16 beat down to Oregon, the freshman outside linebacker racked up 15 tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack. It was one of the better games by any defensive player college football has witnessed this season. He wasn't intimidated by the bright lights and never took a play off despite the lopsided score.
Colorado has a special player in Gillam and he's second in the Pac-12 with 49 tackles on the season.
1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
There is no doubt Jameis Winston has established himself as an elite college quarterback. He entered the year over hyped and many wondered if he would ever fulfill expectations. Through the first five games, he's done that and more, as Florida State is making a strong push for an ACC title.
In a 63-0 thrashing of Maryland, Winston completed 71.9 percent of his passes and threw for 393 yards and five touchdowns. He also rushed for 24 yards on seven attempts. He rarely made a bad decision, flashed the arm strength a few times and made a lot of Maryland fans sick to their stomach.
Winston has now thrown 17 touchdowns in five games and is completing 73.2 percent of his passes.
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