2017 Freshman All-America team

Just a few snaps into the new season, Georgia lost its starting QB and was forced to turn to a true freshman. Now, the Bulldogs are in the Rose Bowl, eyeing a national championship.

Wisconsin's true freshman running back dashed into Heisman consideration, and has the Badgers in the Orange Bowl.

The Heisman campaign for Baker Mayfield got help from a true freshman receiver, too.

Long gone are the days when giving true freshmen a heavy workload meant surefire struggles, and the host of talented newcomers from 2017 proves that not all young talent must go through growing pains. The members of our true freshman All-America team earned their spots and made major impacts from day one.


QB: Jake Fromm, Georgia

This wasn't supposed to be Fromm's job, but when Jacob Eason went down in Georgia's opener, Fromm stepped in and looked like a savvy veteran. For the year, his 9.4 yards per attempt ranked sixth nationally, and he was especially good vs. the blitz, throwing 12 TDs with just one interception and posting an astonishing passer rating of 256.1, best in the Power 5.

RB: Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin

Taylor was the backbone of Wisconsin's offense this season, rushing for 1,847 yards, the most by a freshman since Adrian Peterson in 2004. Taylor had nine games with more than 100 yards, three with more than 200, and his 6.8 yards per rush ranked fifth among running backs with at least 150 rushes.

RB: AJ Dillon, Boston College

Dillon didn't open the season as the Eagles' lead back, but once he got the job, he ran with it. From Week 5 on, Dillon rushed for 1,254 yards (second only to Taylor among Power 5 backs), and BC scored 28 points in six of seven games. The Eagles had hit the 28-point mark just seven times in their previous 34.

WR: Justin Hall, Ball State

No freshman had more receiving yards this season than Hall's 801, and his 78 catches were the 10th most nationally. Hall was remarkably consistent for a true freshman, catching at least five passes in 9 of his 12 games.

WR: CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma

His 18.5 yards per reception ranked seventh nationally among players with at least 40 grabs, and was tops among freshmen. He led all Power 5 true freshmen in receiving with 741 yards and had at least 50 yards receiving in eight of 13 games this season.

TE: Hunter Bryant, Washington

Bryant missed the final four games of the season, but he still ranked second on the team in receiving with 22 catches and 331 yards. The yardage total also ranked second among Power 5 true freshman tight ends.

OT: Andrew Thomas, Georgia

A year ago, Georgia's offensive line was a major weakness. In 2017, it was the foundation of the team's offensive game plan. That was due, in no small part, to Thomas, who started all 13 games at right tackle. At 6-5, 320 pounds, Thomas fit in from day one, working with the Bulldogs' first team throughout preseason camp. His impact was obvious. Georgia allowed eight fewer sacks this season, despite playing with a freshman QB, and UGA runners averaged nearly 6 yards per carry when going to Thomas' side of the line.

OT: Walker Little, Stanford

Little helped lead the way for Heisman finalist Bryce Love. In Little's third career start, Love rushed for a school-record 301 yards. In his eight games, Stanford averaged 11.5 yards per carry outside left tackle, the best mark among Power 5 offenses.

OG: Jack Anderson, Texas Tech

Texas Tech's highest-ranked offensive recruit in the past decade, according to ESPN's rankings, Anderson started all 12 games for the Red Raiders, and he regularly graded out as the team's top offensive lineman. With Anderson, Texas Tech rushed for nearly a yard more per carry than it had in 2016.

OG: Navaughn Donaldson, Miami

Donaldson cracked the starting lineup the moment he stepped on campus, working with the first-team line during the spring. At 6-6, 350 pounds, he certainly looked the part. In all, he ended up starting 10 games for the Canes, and the results were exceptional, with Miami rushing for 4.3 yards per carry before contact when running behind right guard.

C: Ben Petrula, Boston College

When starting center Jon Baker went down in Week 1 with a knee injury, the Eagles turned to Petrula to fill the void. Never mind that he'd never played center before. Aside from a few early growing pains, he was a natural. BC's offense found its groove in late September and finished the regular season averaging 1.25 more yards per rush than in 2016 and allowed just 13 sacks, second fewest in the ACC.

All-purpose: J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State

There's a good case to put Dobbins on the list as one of the top running backs, but his work as a pass-catcher out of the backfield makes him a nice fit here. Dobbins' 1,364 rushing yards ranked 14th nationally, and his 7.54 yards per carry was among the nation's best. But his 22 catches helped set him apart as a dynamic threat both on the ground and through the air.


DE: Victor Dimukeje, Duke

Dimukeje's 7.5 tackles for loss were tops among ACC freshmen. He chipped in with 39 tackles, two sacks and four QB hurries to go with an interception in a critical win over Georgia Tech. Dimukeje's impact was huge for a Blue Devils defense that allowed eight fewer points per game than it had in 2016.

DT: James Lynch, Baylor

Lynch's five tackles for loss and three sacks over his final six games made him one of the most impactful freshman interior linemen in the country down the stretch.

DT: Lamonte McDougle, West Virginia

Starting the final eight games of the season at nose tackle for West Virginia, McDougle racked up 22 tackles -- 14 solo -- and four TFLs. McDougle also forced a fumble and recovered another.

DE: Sam Miller, Northwestern

His 8.5 tackles for loss led Power 5 freshman defensive linemen, and he added 5.5 sacks -- good for 13th in the Big Ten -- 32 tackles and four QB hurries.

LB: Colin Schooler, Arizona

No freshman finished with more TFL than Schooler (13.5), who also finished 13th in the Pac-12 in tackles (88), picked off two passes, racked up four sacks and forced a fumble, emerging as one of the league's top all-around linebackers.

LB: Tony Fields, Arizona

If Schooler was the rising star on Arizona's defense, Fields wasn't far behind. He led the team with 91 tackles, had four sacks and an interception. Fields and Schooler's 179 tackles were tops among freshman teammates in the nation.

LB: Dorian Etheridge, Louisville

Aside from the dynamic duo at Arizona, no Power 5 true freshman recorded more tackles this season than Etheridge, who led Louisville with 77 stops. A critical part of the Cardinals' defense, Etheridge had double-digit tackles twice, adding three tackles for a loss and two pass breakups on the year.

S: Grant Delpit, LSU

The Tigers' stifling defense was helped by the instant impact of Delpit, who picked off one pass, broke up eight more and finished with 52 tackles in an LSU secondary that was among the SEC's best. His nine tackles and interception against Ole Miss proved to be one of the top defensive performances by a freshman in the SEC this season.

S: Bennett Williams, Illinois

It was a rough year for Illinois as coach Lovie Smith rebuilds with young talent, but of the nearly dozen freshmen who saw regular work on the Illini defense, Williams stood out. His 64 tackles were fifth-most on the team and the second most in the Big Ten by a freshman. Williams also picked off three passes, broke up two more, and had 1.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble.

CB: Josiah Scott, Michigan State

Scott started 11 games for the upstart Michigan State defense, picking off two passes and leading the team with nine pass breakups. With Scott at corner, Michigan State's secondary jumped from 12th in the Big Ten in opponent passer rating to fourth.

CB: TJ Carter, Memphis

A two-way star in high school, Carter blossomed immediately as Memphis' top corner. He finished second in the AAC with five interceptions, had nine pass breakups, and his 61 tackles were the second most among AAC freshmen.

Special teams

Returner: Marcus Jones, Troy

Jones had more touchdowns this season than Alabama star Calvin Ridley -- and Jones doesn't play offense. In addition to his pick-six on D, Jones took three kick returns to the house -- tied for third-most nationally -- and his 789 kick return yards ranked ninth nationally. Jones averaged 33 yards per return, 7 yards more than any other freshman and the fourth-best rate in FBS.

P: Pressley Harvin III, Georgia Tech

Harvin ranks 18th nationally and tops among freshmen with a 44.1 yards-per-punt average. He finished second in the ACC in punting, and 32 percent of his punts were downed inside the opponent's 20-yard line. He was fifth in the league in net punting, averaging nearly 40 yards per kick after returns.

K: James Stefanou, Colorado

Stefanou's 17 field goals are tied for the sixth most in Colorado history, and were the second most by a true freshman this season. His 53-yarder against Arizona State was the second-longest field goal in school history. Bonus points for being the nation's oldest freshman. The Australia native is 30.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this list incorrectly included redshirt freshman Dez Fitzpatrick of Louisville. He has been replaced with true freshman Justin Hall of Ball State.