North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye is in the midst of a stellar freshman campaign, ranking first among all FBS signal callers with 34 passing touchdowns and third with 3,412 passing yards.
According to FOX Bet, Maye currently has the fourth highest Heisman rating at +600, behind only Ohio State QB CJ Stroud (+150), Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker (+400) and Michigan RB Blake Corum (+550).
But is Maye college football’s best freshman this season?
FOX Sports college football analyst RJ Young addressed this topic on a recent episode of his podcast, The Number One College Football Show.
LSU’s Drake Maye & Harold Perkins Lead College Football’s Best Freshman
FOX Sports’ RJ Young joins Producer Tyler to discuss fan responses to RJ’s question, “Who’s the best freshman in college football this season?”
When asked about Maye and where the UNC QB ends up on his list, Young had this to say.
“Drake Maye is a guy that we weren’t sure would even be the starter in August,” Young said. “He has developed in such a fantastic way. If they end up winning the ACC championship game, it will likely be him because he will be the only rookie QB with a Power 5 championship.”
Young went on to explain how Maye, a four-star prospect from Charlotte, North Carolina, originally committed to Nick Saban and Alabama before changing his commitment to UNC.
“Drake Maye moved to UNC from Alabama, so it’s not like people don’t know about him,” Young said. “It’s about whether or not he would push through with his talent and he did in a very real way.”
But while Maye was the straight answer when it comes to the most impressive newcomer quarterback College football has a linebacker this season playing for Brian Kelly and the 6th-ranked LSU Tigers who has been just as impressive.
Harold Perkins, who was a five-star prospect and the nation’s No. 1 linebacker to leave high school according to 247Sports.com, has had an incredible freshman season.
He put on a historic performance in the Tigers’ 13-10 win over Arkansas last weekend, recording eight tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles.
What made the feat even more impressive was that Perkins did all of this while sick with the flu.
“I said after JT Tuimoloau had his standout game against Penn State that he got involved in the Bednarik Award discussion,” Young said. “I think, honestly, Harold Perkins did the same thing on Saturday. It wasn’t LSU that defeated Arkansas. If you watched the game, you know it was Harold Perkins who defeated Arkansas.”
While Maye and Perkins are certainly among college football’s best-performing freshmen this season, they’re not alone.
Here’s a look at some other freshmen enjoying standout campaigns.
Penn State LB Abdel Carter: This talented freshman has a chance to become the next great linebacker to come through Penn State. He ranks second on the team in both tackles (44) and sacks (3.5). The former four-star recruit has also forced two fumbles for a defense that only allows 19 points per fight.
Ole Fraulein RB Quinshon Judkins: Judkins is among the best running backs in all of college football, regardless of his class. He currently ranks 10th among all FBS players with 1,171 grounded yards and is fifth in rushing touchdowns with 15. The 5-foot-11, 220-pound Judkins has surpassed the 100-yard mark in seven of his 10 games, including a 205 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-28 win over Texas A&M.
Baylor RB Richard Reese: This freshman running back has a chance to become a household name nationally if he can guide Baylor to an upset win against TCU No. 4 this weekend. In 10 games this season, Reese has totaled 852 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns, ranking eighth among FBS players. The freshman’s top game came in Week 8 when he rushed for 186 yards and two touchdowns in an impressive 35-23 win over Kansas.
Penn State RB Nick Singleton: A five-star recruit and top-ranked running back in the 2022 class, expectations were sky-high for Singleton when he arrived on the Penn State campus. In 10 games this season, Singleton certainly lived up to the hype. He has 851 total yards and 10 rushing touchdowns coming off arguably the best game of his young college career, a 122-yard, two-touchdown game against Maryland. Singleton has a chance to become the next great running back to play at Penn State, joining a long list of stars that includes Saquon Barkley, Larry Johnson, Curtis Enis and the former No. 1 draft pick Belong to Ki-Jana Carter.
Georgia DB Malaki Stark: If you play for arguably the best defense in college football and lead the team in both tackles and interceptions, you’ll have a spot on this list. Starks wasted little time in impressing as he recorded one acrobatic interception and eight tackles in his first collegiate appearance against Oregon. Since then, he’s been a standout on the Bulldogs defense with 44 total tackles and two interceptions for a unit that keeps opposing attacks to just 11.6 points per game.
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