Thursday, February 14, 2013
FSU's top recent freshman performances
By David M. Hale
As Florida State fans begin to break down the incoming freshmen after national signing day, we took a look back at Jimbo Fisher's first three recruiting classes as head coach to find the true freshmen who made the biggest impact right off the bat.
Honorable mentions:Austin Barron and Bobby Hart both became regular starters on the offensive line in 2011, though that early success didn't last into 2012. Christian Jones showed some early promise, recording 18 tackles, 3 sacks and recovering a fumble as a freshman in 2010. Ronald Darby was the toughest cut from this list. He earned Freshman All-American honors last season after recording 22 tackles, eight pass break-ups and a forced fumble in a reserve role.
Bjoern Werner showed flashes of his talents as a freshman in 2010.
The best was obviously still ahead for Werner, a three-star recruit with limited football experience before arriving at FSU, but he showed flashes of dominance right from the start. Despite a limited role, Werner finished the season with 20 tackles, six TFLs (tied for fourth on the team), and 3.5 sacks.
Joyner gets credit for making an impact both on defense and special teams. He wasn't a key cog in FSU's secondary right off the bat, but Joyner did finish the season with 23 tackles, one interception and four passes defended. He chipped in as a kick returner with 329 return yards, too.
It's not that Freeman was exceptional as a rookie in 2011, but given the circumstances, he more than held his own. FSU's offensive line was in tatters, and a rash of injuries left Freeman to carry the bulk of the workload on the ground. He responded by leading the team in rushing (579 yards) and touchdowns (8) while chipping in with another 111 yards receiving.
One of the nation's top recruits, Jernigan was an instant hit on Florida State's defensive line, despite never claiming the starting job. Jernigan quickly worked his way into Mark Stoops rotation at tackle, and once he got on the field, he was tough to stop. He finished his freshman campaign with 30 tackles, six TFLs, 2.5 sacks and three QB hurries.
The four-star recruit came in highly regarded, but his impact was even bigger than most fans could have anticipated. Despite missing four games due to injury, Greene finished as FSU's leader in receptions (38), receiving yards (596) and all-purpose yards (706) for the season. Had he stayed healthy all season -- or had he not been in the shadow of fellow freshman Sammy Watkins in the ACC -- his immediate impact would have been even bigger.