CBSSports.com 2012 All-Freshman Team

By Jerry Hinnen | College Football Writer
Todd Gurley exploded onto the scene at Georgia as one of the nation's top freshmen. (US Presswire)

Was 2012 the Year of the Freshman in college football? You could make quite an argument: the nation's No. 1 team is quarterbacked by one; their BCS Championship opponent's leading receiver and second 1,000-yard rusher are both freshmen; the team that came within five yards of beating that BCS Championship opponent in the SEC title game has a freshman as its leading rusher; and the team that did beat that BCS championship opponent in mid-November is quarterbacked by a player universally expected to become the first-ever freshman Heisman Trophy winner Saturday night.

So even more than usual, earning a freshman All-America nod in 2012 is something special -- particularly in the loaded offensive skill positions. (Marcus Mariota? T.J. Yeldon? Brett Hundley? All amazing players -- but none of them made the final cut here.) Here's the CBSSports.com version, as chosen by the Eye on College Football team. Enjoy:

OFFENSE

QB: Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M* -- 4,600 yards of total offense broke Cam Newton's SEC record; first freshman Heisman finalist since Adrian Peterson in 2004.

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RB: Todd Gurley , Georgia -- First-team All-SEC back ran for 1,260 yards and 16 touchdowns, averaged 6.3 yards per carry.

RB: Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech -- Led all FBS players with 28 touchdowns; led all freshmen at 100 yards rushing per game.

WR: Amari Cooper, Alabama -- 895 receiving yards accounted for 32 percent of Crimson Tide receiving production; 17.2 yards per reception average ranked sixth among all FBS receivers with more than 50 catches.

WR: Mike Evans, Texas A&M* -- 75 receptions, 1,022 yards both team-highs for nation's No. 3 offense.

WR: Davante Adams, Fresno State* -- 26 more catches, 314 more yards, and 7 more receiving touchdowns than any other Mountain West player for FBS' leading freshman receiver.

TE: Kyle Carter, Penn State -- 453 receiving yards ranked second on the Nittany Lions.

OL: Isaac Seumalo, Oregon State -- Top-ranked recruit and immediate starter at center earned honorable mention All-Pac-12.

OL: Tyler Johnstone, Oregon* -- Starting left tackle for nation's No. 1 offense in yards per carry.

OL: John Theus, Georgia -- Five-star recruit started all 13 games at tackle for SEC East champion and conference's No. 1 offense in yards per play.

OL: Cody Whitehair, Kansas State* -- Honorable mention All-Big 12 guard for 11-1 Big 12 champions.

OL: Jake Brendel, UCLA* -- Honorable mention All-Pac-12 for Pac-12 South champions.

Return specialist/All-Purpose: Duke Johnson, Miami -- ACC Rookie of the Year placed third in league with 947 yards rushing and returned two kicks for touchdowns.

Return specialist/All-Purpose: Stefon Diggs, Maryland -- 848 yards accounted for 39 percent of team's total; finished 13th nationally at 28.5 yards per kickoff return.

Devonte Fields enjoyed a monstrous first season for the Frogs. (US Presswire)

DEFENSE

DL: Dante Fowler Jr., Florida -- 7 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks for nation's fifth-ranked defense.

DL: Deion Barnes, Penn State* -- Big Ten Freshman of the Year collected six sacks.

DL: Devonte Fields , TCU -- AP Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year led the league with 17.5 tackles for loss, placed second with 9 sacks.

DL: Leonard Williams, USC -- Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year finished with 7.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss.

LB: Kyler Fackrell, Utah State* -- First-team All-WAC selection collected 84 tackles for nation's fifth-ranked defense in yards per play.

LB: Eddie Johnson, Miami* -- Redshirt collected 59 tackles, 7.5 for loss, with 1 sack and 1 interception.

LB: Denzel Nkemdiche, Ole Miss* -- Second-team All-SEC player led Rebels with 78 tackles, 12 for loss.

LB: Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi St.* -- Finished second on team with 97 tackles, 4.5 for loss.

CB: Jalen Mills, LSU -- Started all 12 games for Tigers, finishing with two interceptions and 7 passes defended.

CB: KeiVarae Russell, Notre Dame -- 2 interceptions, 50 tackles for key member of nation's No. 1 scoring defense.

S: Shaq Thompson, Washington -- 66 tackles for 12-game starter and honorable mention All-Pac-12 honoree.

S: Karl Joseph, West Virginia -- Led team with 95 tackles, totaled 7 for loss, 2 interceptions, 1 sack.

SPECIAL TEAMS

PK: Ross Martin, Duke -- Finished 18-of-20 on the season.

P: Ethan Perry, TCU -- 10th nationally at 45.16 yards per punt.

*Indicates redshirt freshman.

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