The last few years I have put out daily blogs that listed all the True Freshmen at each position and given you an idea of how many actually played in their first year on campus. I will go thru each position this August and show you how many have played the last two years, so you know what to expect out of this year’s true frosh class.
Here is a look at the top 50 Linebackers that were signed in 2020. Now 2020 was an odd year as with no spring practice, the true frosh LB’s could not benefit from being in early for the spring. With some conferences cancelling their seasons and then starting them up again that put them even further behind. Now in 2020 technically every LB redshirted as 2020 did not count against their eligibility so coaches were more likely to play them.
Here is a look at the Top 50 rated True Frosh LineBackers from 2020 and how many played. There were other freshmen that played at LB in 2020 but I am just going thru the top 50 LB and how many played as these were the freshmen that were most likely to play.
I was surprised that the DL numbers that played were not higher yesterday so I did not know what to expect from the LB’s. In 2020 some guy named Will Anderson led the way with 13 starts, 5 tackles, 7 sacks and was the FWAA National Frosh Player of the Year. Even though some teams only played 6 games, there were five of the top 50 true Frosh LB’s that started 6 or more games. Noah Sewell of Oregon was the Pac-12 Defensive Frosh Player of the year with 5 starts in just 7 games and 45 tackles plus 6.5 tfl. Justin Flowe PS#1) of Oregon played in just 1 game before injury or would have been more productive. With no LB losing a year of eligibility the coaches played 26 of the 50 freshmen in more than four games.
Now let’s look at the 2021 True Freshmen. I know that technically all of 2020’s true frosh were still true frosh, but I will just look at the ones that were in their first year on campus. We will just look at the 2021 signing class of LB’s and how much they played.
With everyone back from Covid and unlike in 2020 if a player played more than 4 games the player would lose a year of eligibility you would think that less true frosh LB’s would play. One advantage the 2021 true frosh had was being able to be on campus for spring if they enrolled early. The uninterrupted summer probably helped the LB’s gain strength in the weight room and be more capable of playing.
Here is a look at the Top 50 True Frosh LB’s from 2021 and how many played.
In 2020 the top 50 true frosh LB’s combined for 59 starts, 360 tkls, 22 sks and 25 tfl.
In 2021 the top 50 true frosh LB’s combined for 17 starts, 330 tkls, 16.5 sks and 9.5 tfl.
In 2021 only one top 50 LB started more than three games! Junior Colson who was PS#16 started 7 games for Michigan and led the top 50 true frosh tacklers with 61 which was more than double the #2 most productive LB in Dallas Turner (PS#30) who had 30 tackles. Turner was used as a pass rush specialist and had an amazing 8.5 sacks which was more than the other 49 true frosh LB’s on this list combined! Only six of the top 50 true frosh LB’s managed to start a game but 34 did play in at least one game. Twenty of the top 50 LB’s played enough to burn their redshirt. I have to think with the large drop in starts and stats from the 2021 Top 50 group that coaches started to rely on the transfer portal more than true freshmen in 2020. Only 19 of the top 50 true frosh LB’s played enough to burn a redshirt.
Now let’s look at the top true freshmen LB’s for this year.
Georgia signed three of the top six LB’s in this year’s class and had to replace a pair of NFL draft picks from that unit so someone like Jalon Walker (PS#6) who was in for the spring could see playing time immediately. Ohio State’s LB unit was a problem area last year so even with veterans back it would not surprise me if PS#1 CJ Hicks got time. I would expect this group of LB’s to start more games and put-up better stats than the 2021 group did as a whole but I do not know if they will top 2020’s numbers. Remember I have a new daily blog each and every day this year so stop back to philsteele.com and check it out each day. Also did you know the digital magazine is updated all the way thru the start of the football season. We circle players that are out for the year, add in any new transfers and update position outlooks for each team. If you want to get the digital magazine along with your hard copy you can purchase it here.