Farrell Freshman 15: Nos. 1-3
Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.
The regular season in college football is over, so it’s time to unveil the final Farrell Freshman 15 for the 2019 season. Here are the final three players on the list.
3. George Karlaftis, Purdue
The skinny: Karlaftis committed to Purdue during his junior season over offers from Michigan, Ohio State, Miami, Penn State and Alabama. The coaching staff then had to fend off all these programs until signing day, which it successfully accomplished. There were few recruits in the country who had bigger expectations coming into the season, and to his credit he exceeded most of them. With 54 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and two pass breakups, Karlaftis has raised the bar extremely high for the remainder of his collegiate career.
Farrell’s take: Karlaftis was a Rivals250 prospect who had great size and explosion but he is playing like a five-star already in his career. He’s disruptive as a bull rusher or working off of first contact and he has surprising quickness off the snap and in pursuit. He’s going to be a star in the Big Ten.
2. Sam Howell, North Carolina
The skinny: Howell had been committed to Florida State since the spring of his junior year, but in the Early Signing Period he flipped from the Seminoles to North Carolina. The departure of then-offensive coordinator Walt Bell to Massachusetts and the arrival of Mack Brown in Chapel Hill helped in Howell’s decision. Not many knew what to expect in Brown’s first season back in North Carolina, especially with a true freshman starting quarterback, but the outcome was productive and exciting. Throwing for 3,347 yards, 35 touchdowns and only seven interceptions during the regular season, Howell has the potential to light up the ACC during his remaining time in Chapel Hill.
Farrell’s take: Howell was a Rivals250 prospect who was considered for the Rivals100 many times and always had a strong arm and a great pocket presence. He wasn’t the tallest quarterback, but he does a great job changing his launch points and finding seams to throw in when things become congested. He’s off to a great start to his college career and looks to have a great future ahead of him.
1. Derek Stingley Jr., LSU
The skinny: Stingley originally committed to LSU early in his high school career but then reopened his recruitment and considered several programs. The Tigers eventually landed his re-commitment over Florida and Texas. Being the No. 1 recruit in the nation, meeting expectations would obviously be very difficult for Stingley. However, from the second he walked on campus he acted and played like a veteran. Not only playing like the top true freshman in the country, but also one of the top overall cornerbacks, Stingley finished his first regular season in Baton Rouge with 34 tackles, one tackle for loss, six interceptions and 15 pass breakups for the Tigers. And now he has a chance to further build on his young legacy in the playoff.
Farrell’s take: The only cornerback in Rivals history to be named the No. 1 player overall in the country, Stingley is living up to that reputation and then some. Already named as the best player on a great defense, Stingley has a great future ahead of him. We liked him as a big, physical corner with rare instincts and athleticism and he will easily be a first-rounder when his turn comes.