|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:
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)|
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.
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.