National Football Freshman of the Year Watch List
January 17, 2012By coach Silva of Next Level Athletics Sports
Every year, some ninth graders make an impact on the varsity level across the country, even on top teams and in big, football-crazed states.
This season is no different, as several players have already made a name for themselves, potentially earning them the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Rushel Shell, Kelvin Taylor and Jabrill Peppers to be named the MaxPreps National Freshman of the Year.
Here are the top contenders right now with plenty of games left to play.
Austin Kafentzis, QB, Jordan (Sandy, Utah)
The early leader in the race to be crowned this season's top freshman, Kafentzis has been simply spectacular for Jordan, which sits at 7-2 thus far this season. Kafentzis has thrown for 2,104 yards and 14 touchdowns. He's also rushed for another 745 yards and 14 scores. If Jordan makes a deep playoff run, Kafentzis' total yards could approach 4,000.
David Sills, QB, Red Lion Christian Academy (Bear, Del.)
It comes as no surprise that Sills ranks among the country's most impressive ninth graders. Well-known after committing to USC as a seventh grader, Sills continues to mature and has looked very impressive against some stiff competition. In a season-opening contest against Ursuline, he threw for 221 yards and four touchdowns. He has also displayed flashes of his potential against the likes of Our Lady of Good Counsel and Calvert Hall.
DeAndre Johnson, QB, First Coast (Jacksonville, Fla.)
The 6-foot, 175-pound Johnson has pioneered First Coast to a 6-0 start. In a 36-16 victory over Yulee last weekend, he threw for 311 yards and five touchdowns. On the season, Johnson has tallied 1,325 passing yards and 15 touchdowns. A deep playoff run by First Coast could push Johnson to the top of the list.
Lee Autry, DL, Albemarle (N.C.)
Arguably the most effective freshman defensive player in the country, the 6-2, 265-pound Autry has been extremely disruptive on Albemarle's defensive line. He's been in on 79 tackles this season and has also notched a sack. One of North Carolina's top small school teams, Albemarle is 8-1 and has limited opponents to a mere 53 points on the season.
Rodney Anderson, RB, Katy (Texas)
When star running back Adam Taylor went down with an injury, the Katy faithful held its collective breath. They've been able to exhale thanks to Anderson's fine play. The highly touted running back has carried the ball 74 times for 594 yards and seven touchdowns. Though head coach Gary Joseph utilizes a number of running backs, Anderson has emerged as the team's leading rusher for the undefeated Tigers.
Lotravious Minter, RB, Schley County (Ellaville, Ga.)
Few ninth graders have had the type of performances that Minter has put forth this season. The 5-10, 165 pounder exploded for a five-touchdown performance against Pacelli. According to his coach Jim McFather, Mintor has great vision and shiftiness, and has only been caught from behind once this season. He's gained 992 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground while also registering 636 receiving yards and eight scores.