Week ten of the college football season is in the books. A fair amount of true freshmen playmakers have proved to be legitimate contributors to their offense in year one. Many were highly-touted prospects and expected to maintain pivotal roles in their offense from day one. Others caught the staff at Campus2Canton off guard with their ability to perform at a young age when the lights were brightest.
Without further ado, here are Campus2Canton’s Freshmen of the Week for week ten.
Quarterback: MJ Morris – NC State
Morris followed up last week’s three-touchdown performance with another great game against Wake Forest. The Carrollton High School (GA) product threw for 210 yards and three more touchdowns, adding three carries of at least ten yards in the 30-21 win over the Demon Deacons. Morris completed 60 percent of his attempts and, as evident by his 14-yard average depth of target (aDOT), he was consistently pushing the ball down the field. The 6’2″ 192-pounder became the first true freshman quarterback to start for the Wolfpack since Phillip Rivers. He also joined the aforementioned and Jacoby Brissett as the only quarterbacks in program history to throw for three touchdowns in their first start since 2000. Doing so and outperforming Sam Hartman, who North Carolina’s Mack Brown recently called “one of the best quarterbacks to ever play in college football,” in your first career start? The foreseeable future is bright for Morris and the quarterback room in Raleigh.
Running Back: Kaleb Johnson – Iowa
I wrote last week that Johnson’s usage was perplexing, given the eye test indicating that he was the most talented running back on the Hawkeyes’ roster. After his performance in the Hawkeyes’ 24-3 victory over Purdue, it’s not up for discussion anymore. The 6’0″ 212-pounder averaged over nine yards per carry and ran for 200 yards, the second-most by an Iowa running back in program history. The Big Ten Player of the Week physically bullied the Boilermakers throughout the afternoon. His 6.86 yards after contact per attempt and 13 forced missed tackles were the highest marks for FBS running backs with at least 15 carries in week ten. Johnson also showed off some speed with his 75-yard touchdown run on the second play of the second half. Proving he’s more than capable of winning in multiple ways. The Heartland Trophy is on the line this week, with Wisconsin coming to Kinnick Stadium. The Hamilton, Ohio native is within reach of a personal accolade, needing 85 yards to break Tyler Goodson’s freshman rushing record.
Running Back: Kaytron Allen – Penn State
In Penn State’s 45-14 win over Indiana, Allen carried the ball 18 times, rushing for 86 yards and three touchdowns while forcing seven missed tackles. He also caught two receptions for 72 yards, the most by a freshman running back. James Franklin is becoming more open with running Allen for extended periods of the game, even with a player of Nick Singleton’s caliber at his disposal. Since the Nittany Lions’ week six bye, Allen has outpaced Singleton in carries (51-49), yards (255-216), and touchdowns (5-3). While Allen lacks the explosiveness in the run game to break off major chunk plays, something that Singleton possesses, it is clear that the IMG Academy (FL) product is adept enough to handle the workload at the Big Ten level in an efficient manner. Plus, quarterback Sean Clifford said that Allen is one of the most improved players in such a short period he has seen in his entire career. People seem to forget that the 5’11” 201-pounder is a high-four-star prospect in his own right and should be discussed from a devy standpoint accordingly.
Wide Receiver: Joseph Griffin Jr. – Boston College
If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen my tweet saying that Griffin Jr.’s stock was rising mightily from a devy standpoint. For those that did not see it, allow me to explain. In Boston College’s 38-31 loss to Duke, the 6’4″ 200-pounder caught five of his six targets for 103 yards and two touchdowns, reeling in all four of his contested targets. On the year, the Springfield, Massachusetts native has yet to record a drop on 28 targets. The only other true freshman to have accomplished such a feat is Clemson’s Antonio Williams, a player who’s been gaining steam in the fantasy community. He has seen at least six targets in his last three games. He’s building trust with both Phil Jurkovec and Emmett Morehead as a reliable option in the receiving game outside of Zay Flowers. Head Coach Jeff Hafley stated after the game that “[Griffin Jr.] has a chance to be a really special player…keeps his mouth shut and just works.”
Wide Receiver: Evan Stewart – Texas A&M
Stewart has been electric throughout the entirety of his freshman season in College Station but has clearly found his stride in the college game over the last four weeks. After not receiving double-digit targets in the first four games of his career, the 5’11” 170-pounder has seen at least 11 targets and has recorded at least 85 yards in every game, going for at least 100 yards in half of them. Stewart had the best game of his career against the Gators, marking season highs in receptions (8), yards (120), and yards per route ran (2.55). Now there are still some drop issues; the Frisco, Texas native dropped one pass against Florida after dropping three a week ago against Ole Miss. It’s the second time he’s dropped three or more passes in his short career. However, given the overall inconsistencies within the Aggies’ offense this season, Texas A&M fans will take the growing pains and determine he’s still been tremendously successful from a first-year perspective. Looking at his social media, he appears locked in with A&M for the foreseeable future.
Tight End: RJ Maryland – SMU
When a game breaks the NCAA single-scoring record for combined points scored in regulation, and your quarterback throws for nine touchdowns, you will see some astronomical statistical production from some players. How about the freshman tight end from Southlake, Texas? The 6’4″ 217-pounder caught all four of his targets for 52 yards and found the endzone twice in the Mustangs’ 77-63 win over Houston. The son of longtime Cowboys defensive tackle Russell Maryland, he has scored a touchdown on almost 20 percent of his targets this season.