Usually, when freshmen arrive on campus, they’re generally not expected to contribute significantly their first year. Even if they red shirt, they may not contribute much. As we are finding out this year, there are quite a few players contributing significantly to the success of their teams this season. Here’s a look at just a few.
Jarren Williams, Miami It was a little bit of a surprise when Williams beat out N’Kosi Perry and Tate Martell to win the starting quarterback job. When he’s not running for his life behind a porous offensive line, Williams has shown that Manny Diaz made the right choice. Through three games, Williams has completed 73% of his passes, with six touchdowns, and, most importantly, zero interceptions.
Sam Howell, North Carolina Howell has met every expectation in the infancy stage of his career at North Carolina. Showing poise and maturity beyond his years, Howell has lead his team to two impressive wins. He has also completed 63% of his passes, and, like Williams above, thrown zero interceptions.
Javian Hawkins, Louisville Through three games, only Cam Akers has more rushing yards. Yes, you’re reading that right. Williams has more rushing yards than Travis Etienne and AJ Dillon. And, he hasn’t been doing it all against the cream puffs on their schedule. Williams had 122 yards in the season’s opening loss to Notre Dame, averaging 6.4 yards per carry in that game.
Zonovan Knight, NC State It’s hard to top the start of your college career by scoring a touchdown on your first carry, but that’s what Knight did. While in a bit of a time split, Knight has lived up to his highly touted recruiting ranks, averaging nearly six yards per carry on only 39 carries.
Kenneth Walker III, Wake Forest Filling in for an injured Cade Carney, Walker has been outstanding in the two games he has played. He’s averaging just under 10 yards per carry so far, including a 96 yard touchdown run against Rice.
Zay Flowers, Boston College The Eagles offense is no longer AJ Dillon left, right, and up the middle. Flowers adds another dimension to this Eagles offense that hasn’t been seen in a long time. Flowers only has two touchdowns so far, but one came on a 33 yard receiving touchdown, and the other came on a 46 yard rushing touchdown. In other words, any time he has the ball in his hands, he’s a legitimate scoring threat.
With the new rules allowing freshmen to play in up to four games to be eligible to red shirt, it would allow for them to contribute, and maybe impress the coaches enough where they simply can’t be kept off the field. By then a stat list like this would grown even more by the time the season ends.
Will Ojanen is a Columnist and the Co-Host of ACC Nation Podcast. He is a member of FWAA (Football Writers Association of America). He and his wife, Sami explore the world of craft beer together and share their adventures at WillandSamisBeerBlog. Follow Will on Twitter @WillsWorldMN.