DALLAS (FWAA) – The 2020 Football Writers
Association of Freshman All-America Team features two defensive
starters from national champion Alabama, a quarterback-receiver
tandem that helped Oklahoma win the Big 12 championship, the two
national interception leaders amid a top-flight secondary and six
schools that have a pair of players on the roster.
This is the 20th season the FWAA has honored Freshmen All-Americans.
Perhaps in no other season have freshmen played such an important
part of a college football season than in 2020. Teams were constantly
stretched on their depth charts and player participation varied
by the day. It was a challenge that no other freshman class has
had to face starting their collegiate careers in the middle of a
pandemic. Their learning curve and adjustments had to come fast,
and so many delivered. So as the FWAA recognizes the impressive
seasons from 32 first-year players, it also salutes all the true
and redshirt freshmen who contributed to start, and finish, the
oddest and most challenging college football season on record.
The Southeastern Conference led all conferences with eight members
followed by the Atlantic Coast's five and four from the Big 12.
The American Athletic, Big Ten and Sun Belt each had three representatives
among all 10 conferences and one independent represented. Of the
32 players, 15 are redshirt freshmen.
A 13-person panel of nationally-prominent college football experts
represented each of the FBS conferences along with independents
in the selecting the team. Both true freshmen (17 players) and redshirt
freshmen (15 players) were considered for the team and are so noted.
Following is the complete, 32-man 2020 FWAA Freshman All-America
FWAA FRESHMAN ALL-AMERICA TEAM
||Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina
||Indian Trail, N.C.
||Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma
||Ulysses Bentley IV, SMU
||Kyren Williams, Notre Dame
||St. Louis, Mo.
||• Kayshon Boutte, LSU
||New Iberia, La.
||• Marvin Mims, Oklahoma
||Tahj Washington, Memphis
||Matt Goncalves, Pitt
||Jeremy James, Ole Miss
||• Willie Lampkin, Coastal Carolina
||Warren McClendon, Georgia
||• Peter Skoronski, Northwestern
||Park Ridge, Ill.
||Tyler Smith, Tulsa
||Fort Worth, Texas
||Ricky Barber, WKU
||• Khari Coleman, TCU
||New Orleans, La.
||Calijah Kancey, Pitt
||• Myles Murphy, Clemson
||• Will Anderson Jr., Alabama
||• Tyler Grubbs, Louisiana Tech
||New Orleans, La.
||• Noah Sewell, Oregon
||Malaeimi, American Samoa
||• Stefon Thompson, Syracuse
||Derrick Canteen, Georgia Southern
||Jalen Catalon, Arkansas
||• Emmanuel Forbes, Mississippi
||Brandon Joseph, Northwestern
||College Station, Texas
||• Malachi Moore, Alabama
||• Eli Ricks, LSU
||Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
||• John Hoyland, Wyoming
||• Tory Taylor, Iowa
||• Trayvon Rudolph, NIU
||Demario Douglas, Liberty
||• Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State
||Round Rock, Texas
|Karl Dorrell, Colorado
|• Denotes true treshman
All-Time Freshman All-America Teams (since 2001)
National champion Alabama stands out with two starters from its
defense punctuated with jack linebacker Will Anderson Jr. earning
the Shaun Alexander National Freshman Player of the Year Award.
Anderson started every game and led the SEC and all national freshmen
with 7.0 sacks while also adding 10.5 tackles for loss. His 52 total
QB pressures were second nationally.
Four of the SEC's eight members make up the six-man secondary.
Alabama's star (nickel) back Malachi Moore was an every-game starter
and grabbed three interceptions to earn All-SEC Freshman honors.
The last 'Bama secondary member on the Freshman All-America team
was in 2018, Patrick Surtain II, who this year was a Bronko Nagurski
Trophy finalist and a consensus All-American. Alabama has had a
pair of selections in three consecutive seasons.
LSU continues to produce outstanding young cornerbacks. Eli Ricks'
four interceptions were second in the SEC and tied for eighth nationally
and he gives the Tigers a third Freshman All-American in the last
four seasons at corner (Derek Stingley Jr. in 2019, Greedy Williams
in 2017). The SEC's leading pick-man is also on the team, Emmanuel
Forbes of Mississippi State, who had five in 10 games, returning
two for scores. Forbes' 617 defensive snaps played were sixth in
the nation among true freshmen. Forbes is only the third Bulldog
to earn Freshman All-America status. Arkansas safety Jalen Catalon
had 99 tackles, more than any other freshman. Catalon is the first
Arkansas defensive back to be a Freshman All-American since Lawrence
Richardson on the initial team in 2001 and the Hogs' first overall
Also in the secondary is Brandon Joseph, one of two Northwestern
players and the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Joseph's six interceptions
tied for the national lead. Derrick Canteen of Georgia Southern
also had six picks and added 10 PBU's in eight games to become the
first Eagles player to receive any postseason honor from the FWAA.
The Sun Belt trio also boasts its Player of the Year in redshirt
quarterback Grayson McCall, who keyed Coastal Carolina's upstart
11-1 season with 29 total touchdowns against just two interceptions.
He led the Sun Belt in passing efficiency and passing yards. Willie
Lampkin, Coastal's left guard, is on the team as an every-game starter
for the nation's 15th-best rushing offense who allowed just one
sack this season. It's been quite an FWAA postseason debut for Coastal
Carolina – McCall and Lampkin join head coach Jamey Chadwell (Eddie
Robinson Award as Coach of the Year) and defensive end Tarron Jackson
(First Team All-American) as the Chanticleers' first postseason
honorees by the FWAA.
Oklahoma's tandem of Spencer Rattler and Marvin Mims helped the
Sooners claim another Big 12 title. Rattler joins McCall at the
helm of the team after an All-Big 12 and Big 12 Newcomer of the
Year season, leading the nation's freshmen in passing touchdowns
(25), passing offense (278.4 ypg) and total offense (290.4 ypg).
Mims became his prime target, as the Big 12 second-teamer led the
Sooners with 37 catches and an Oklahoma freshman-record nine touchdowns.
Oklahoma has freshman All-America selections for a fourth straight
season and seventh of the last eight.
Kayshon Boutte is LSU's first receiver to be a Freshman All-American
and gives the Tigers (along with Ricks) at least one member on five
of the last seven teams. Boutte finished with three straight 100-yard
games against Alabama, Florida and Ole Miss, where he set the SEC's
single-game record with 308 yards on 14 catches with three touchdowns
– which is the FWAA's Freshman Performance of the Year. Memphis'
Tahj Washington is the school's fourth Freshman All-American in
the last five seasons and follows Kenneth Gainwell, last year's
Shaun Alexander National Freshman Player of the Year. Washington
had 670 receiving yards and six touchdowns.
The All-America backfield has the ACC Rookie of the Year, Notre
Dame's Kyren Williams, and the American Athletic Offensive Rookie
of the Year, Ulysses Bentley IV of SMU. Williams led all FBS freshmen
in rushing yards (1,061) and touchdowns (12) in helping take the
Irish to the College Football Playoff. He is only Notre Dame's second
Freshman All-American on offense and its first since 2006. Bentley
led the Mustangs with 913 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns to set
a SMU freshman single-season record. He is SMU's first Freshman
Joining Lampkin on the line is Northwestern's Peter Skoronski,
the Wildcats' first Freshman All-American (along with Joseph) since
2017 and its first on offense since 2005. Skoronski allowed only
two sacks in 587 snaps filling in at left tackle after veteran Rashawn
Slater opted out. From the SEC is Ole Miss' Jeremy James, the Rebels'
first Freshman All-American since 2012 who started all nine games
at right guard for an offense that averaged 40.7 points per game.
Georgia's Warren McClendon was an All-SEC Freshman selection and
gives the Bulldogs a freshman All-American in five straight seasons
and an All-American offensive lineman in three of the last four.
Tulsa left tackle Tyler Smith started all eight games for a team
that was picked eighth in its conference but closed playing for
The American title. Tulsa's last Freshman All-American came in 2018
with linebacker Zaven Collins, this year's Bronko Nagurski Trophy
winner as the nation's top defensive player. Matt Goncalves is Pitt's
first Freshman All-American on offense since 2015.
Pitt's other honoree is Calijah Kancey, part of an impressive
foursome of young pass rushers who already stand out among the national
leaders. Kancey gives the Panthers a defensive lineman on both the
First Team All-America squad (Rashad Weaver) and its Freshman All-America
Team after he filled into the starting lineup when 2019 All-American
Jaylen Twyman opted out for the season. He answered with 21 quarterback
pressures, 27 tackles and 7.0 TFL's. TCU's Khari Coleman, the Big
12 Co-Defensive Freshman of the Year, led all freshmen nationally
and was seventh overall with 15.0 TFL's to go with 3.0 sacks. He
had at least two TFL's in six of his last seven games. TCU has had
a Freshman All-American in three of the last four seasons.
Clemson's defense is restocked on the line with tackle Myles
Murphy, who finished fourth on the team with 34 tackles, led the
Tigers with 9.0 TFL's and had three forced fumbles. The ACC's Co-Newcomer
of the Year is Clemson's first Freshman All-American since quarterback
Trevor Lawrence in 2018. WKU's Ricky Barber finished as perhaps
the top pass rusher from the Group of Five programs. Barber's 43
tackles were ninth nationally among defensive linemen to go with
6.0 TFL's and four sacks in 10 games. He is the fourth Freshman
All-American at WKU, which now has two in the last three seasons.
Anderson leads the four-man linebacking crew but watch out west
for another name to rise next season. Noah Sewell at Oregon made
an immediate impact posting sacks in his first two games and finishing
with 44 tackles and 6.5 TFL's in just seven games. The Pac-12 Defensive
Freshman of the Year and the younger brother of 2019 Outland Trophy
winner Penei Sewell, Noah Sewell is only the second Oregon linebacker
to be named a Freshman All-American (Troy Dye in 2016) and gives
the Ducks a freshman All-American in four of the last five seasons.
Stefon Thompson is Syracuse's sixth Freshman All-American and its
first at linebacker. He set the Orange record for a freshman with
4.0 TFL's against Louisville, the most in a single game by a rookie
there since the statistic has been kept (1994).
Tyler Grubbs made the Conference USA All-Freshman team, leading
Louisiana Tech and finishing 25th in the FBS with 9.9 tackles per
game (99 total) with 9.5 TFL's. He posted 16 tackles in his collegiate
debut and had double-digit totals in five of 10 games. Grubbs is
Louisiana Tech's fourth Freshman All-American and its first since
Deuce Vaughn lit up Big 12 defenses from multiple positions and
closed the regular season as one of two FBS players to have at least
600 rushing yards and 400 receiving yards, the other being the FWAA’s
all-purpose First-Team All-American, Travis Etienne of Clemson.
The Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year racked up 1,221 all-purpose
yards that including a K-State freshman-record 642 rushing yards
and a team-leading 434 receiving yards. Of the Wildcats’ eight Freshman
All-Americans, four have been on special teams or all-purpose.
Tory Taylor of Iowa finished with a 44.1-yard average to lead
all FBS freshmen. The 23-year-old Australian is only the fourth
Freshman All-American at Iowa and its first non-lineman. John Hoyland
of Wyoming was tops in the country in field goals made per game
(2.17) missing only one kick, which was sixth nationally by percentage
(92.9) and he averaged 9.2 points per game. He is the Cowboys’ first
special teams Freshman All-American and gives them a member for
a third consecutive season and fifth in the last six years.
NIU’s Trayvon Rudolph was a MAC first-teamer and led the nation
in kickoff return yards (717) averaging 23.9 yards per return with
six returns of 30 or more yards. Rudolph is NIU’s first Freshman
All-American since 2015 and its first on special teams. Demario
Douglas gave Liberty its first punt return touchdown in five seasons
and was 10th nationally with an 11.1-yard average. He is Liberty’s
second Freshman All-American.
The Freshman Coach of the Year is Colorado's Karl Dorrell, who
led the Buffaloes to their first winning record since 2016 at 4-2 after
Colorado started its conference season 3-0 for the first time since
From this Freshman All-America team, Texas was the home state
for seven of the players – each playing for a different program
– to lead all others, followed by Georgia’s five and Florida and
Louisiana with three each. The team also included a player (Noah
Sewell) from an American territory for the first time, and Iowa’s
Taylor is the fifth Australian to earn a Freshman All-America honor.
No freshmen made the FWAA All-America Team this season.
About Shaun Alexander
Shaun Alexander is
a former All-Pro running back with the Seattle Seahawks (2000-07)
and Washington Redskins (2008) and a former All-SEC player at Alabama
(1995-99). He finished a four-year career with the Crimson Tide
holding 15 records including 3,565 career rushing yards and most
touchdowns (5) in a game. He was drafted by Seattle as the 19th
overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, and in his second season had
a breakout year with 1,318 yards and 14 touchdowns, including a
franchise-record 266 yards on 35 carries in a memorable ESPN Sunday
Night Football game against Oakland. Today Alexander travels the
country speaking and teaching people about the things he is passionate
about – his Christian faith, marriage, fatherhood, football, winning,
leading and love.
About the Football Writers Association of America
The FWAA consists of 1,300 men and women who cover college football.
The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists,
as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game.
The FWAA works to govern areas that include game-day operations,
major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information
about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson
2020 FWAA Freshman All-America Committee:
Shaun Alexander; Mark Anderson, Las Vegas Review-Journal (MW);
Mark Blaudschun, TMGCollegeSports.com (ACC); Scott Dochterman,
The Athletic (Big Ten); Michael Griffith, Freshman Focus; Mike
Griffith, Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Chair/Independents);
Tommy Hicks, Freelance (Sun Belt); Ron Higgins, Tiger Rag (SEC);
Blair Kerkhoff, The Kansas City Star (Big 12); Matt Murschel,
Orlando Sentinel (American Athletic); Nick Piotrowicz, Toledo
Blade (MAC); Steve Richardson, FWAA; Grant Traylor, Huntington
Herald-Dispatch (Conference USA); Ryan Young, Rivals.com
FWAA Freshman All-America Teams (.pdf)