2023 On3 True Freshman All-American Team

On3 imageby:Chandler Vessels11/30/23

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With the 2023 college football regular season coming to a close, On3 has released its True Freshman All-American Team. There were plenty of highly touted freshmen with chances to make an impact this season, but only a few stood out among the rest.

NC State receiver Kevin Concepcion took home the Offensive True Freshman of the Year, while Alabama defensive back Caleb Downs was named Defensive True Freshman of the Year. Although these players received the highest honor, they were joined by several of their peers who also had impressive seasons.

You can view the full On3 True Freshman All-American Team, picked by Charles Power, below:

OFFENSE
Offensive True Freshman of the Year
WR Kevin Concepcion, NC State

Freshmen All-American Team
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Charles Power: Kevin Concepcion is On3’s True Freshman of the Year as he capped off a fantastic freshman season. When you look at NC State’s season, he was a constant for them. He was their most important player on offense. A guy who really led the Wolfpack to multiple wins over the course as the season as they went 9-3 despite having a lot of turmoil at the quarterback position. Concepcion, if you watched NC State’s games, was really a focal point of their offense. He was someone that offensive coordinator Robert Anae was constantly looking to get the ball, and he delivered in a big way. He had five multiple touchdown games this season with all of those being wins for NC State. So he was driving a ton of success on the field for NC State.

Finished the season with 64 catches for 767 yards and 10 touchdowns. He’s the only true freshman receiver with double-digit touchdowns this year. He also made a lot of plays as a rusher with 38 carries for 297 yards. He even threw a touchdown pass at one point. A guy who really took off in the middle of the season and finished on a strong note for NC State. He was a big get for them out of Charlotte — an in-state guy. Has already outplayed his three-star ranking. A guy who can make plays in multiple phases. dangerous with the ball in his hands and a guy who they’re just looking to get the ball. He’s certainly a building block for NC State moving forward and had a fantastic true freshman year. I think (he) is more than worthy of this honor of being the Offensive True Freshman of the Year when you consider he had over 1,000 yards from scrimmage and double-digit touchdowns while playing a large role in their 9-3 season.

QB Jaylen Raynor, Arkansas State

Freshmen All-American Team
Courtesy of Arkansas State athletics

Charles Power: This season was not full of a bunch of true freshmen quarterbacks playing significant snaps, and Jaylen Raynor was fairly clearly the most productive true freshman quarterback of the group that did play. He threw for close to 2,300 yards and 15 touchdowns against six interceptions and also was productive on the ground, running for 331 yards and five scores. He was certainly a bright spot for Arkansas State’s offense taking over a few games into the season. They really struggled on offense a bit in their first two games, and when Raynor came in things got much better. He led them to five wins as a starter and showed some encouraging playmaking ability. He has the look of a quarterback of the future for Butch Jones.

I think he showed some really encouraging signs. This is something that isn’t a huge shock to us. Just from a recruiting rankings perspective, Jaylen Raynor was a riser as a senior. We regarded him as one of the best Group of 5 signees in the 2023 cycle. He was highly productive as a senior with 57 total touchdowns and just a very productive dual-threat quarterback. So I’m not surprised that he had a great freshman season at Arkansas State. He’s certainly a guy you wanna keep your eye on moving forward as one of the top talents at quarterback in the Group of 5.

RB Jahiem White, West Virginia

Freshmen All-American Team
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Charles Power: Jahiem White really came on the last half of the season for West Virginia, going over 100 yards in three of their last four games. He was a big part of West Virginia’s hot finish to the season. They went 4-1 in their last five games with the only loss coming to Oklahoma and Jahiem White had big games in all four of those wins. He was a guy who was a true freshman standout multiple times for On3 over the course of the past month and he’s really finished the season on a high note. White is very productive. A guy who rips off chunk runs with regularity. He ran for 792 yards on 97 carries. That’s 8.72 yards a carry. Also proved to be dynamic in the passing game in limited attempts, but he had three catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns. So a guy who can certainly take it to the house. Also breaks tackles at a pretty high rate.

He has a stocky build at 5’7″ 192 and kind of uses that low center of gravity to run through arm tackles at the second level. The burst vision and tackle-breaking ability were very encouraging. He has some pretty stiff competition for this running back spot. The first month of the season was dominated by Minnesota’s Darius Taylor. He was banged up and bit and ended up not playing as much, but he was off to a torrid start at the beginning of the season. Iowa State’s Abu Sama really came on at the end with a massive game in Week 13. So they made it interesting, but I think when you take the full stock of the season, Jahiem White is the nod here at running back.

WR Eugene Wilson III, Florida

Freshmen All-American Team
Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun / USA TODAY NETWORK

Charles Power: Eugene Wilson III was a five-star outlier for On3 in the 2023 cycle and it’s not hard to see why. Florida often got him the ball very early in many of their games with him having multiple receptions on opening drives seemingly weekly. He was a guy that Billy Napier and their offensive staff certainly wanted to get the ball in his hands as often as possible. Had a very high target percentage when he was in the game, especially unscripted drives. Finished the season with 61 catches for 538 yards and six touchdowns and six carried for 55 yards.

Very dynamic with the ball in his hands. Outstanding mover. Has outstanding functional moving skills. Really quick and can make defenders miss in space. Had some great moments over the course of the season, especially the second half of the season after he came back from injury. He had a touchdown on the opening drive against Georgia. Had two touchdowns against Arkansas and I think just continued to show his high-end talent. Moving forward, he’s a key piece for Florida and their offense. A guy who figures to be a building block moving forward for Billy Napier and his staff and one who has a very promising future in Gainesville.

WR Eric Singleton Jr., Georgia Tech

Freshmen All-American Team
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Charles Power: Eric Singleton Jr. was a revelation for Brent Key and Georgia Tech as a true freshman. He had a fantastic first season in Atlanta. Eric Singleton finished his freshman year with 47 catches for 706 yards and six touchdowns. Earned True Freshman standout honors from On3 on multiple occasions. Had a big game against Ole Miss. Had a big game against Virginia and also had four catches for 96 yards just this past week against Georgia. This is a guy who really broke out as a sprinter his senior year of high school. After he had signed with Georgia Tech, ran a personal-best time of 10.2 seconds in the 100 meters. Guy can really fly.

I think most importantly, Eric Singleton has pure receiver skills. He’s not just a one-trick pony, deep-threat type of receiver. This guy can run routes, he catches the ball well. From a ball skills perspective, he can highpoint the ball and track the ball over his shoulder. So he has a lot of skill to go with the athleticism. If you’re Georgia Tech, you need to be incredibly excited about Eric Singleton. He was a steal for Georgia Tech and I think when you’re looking at his prospects moving forward, you have to be really excited. I think he feels like one of the best true freshmen receivers in the country and was an easy inclusion on this True Freshman All-American team.

TE Luke Hasz, Arkansas

Arkansas TE Luke Hasz
© Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Charles Power: Luke Hasz was off to an awesome start to his freshman season before sustaining a broken clavicle early in the game against Texas A&M way back in September. But what he did in that first past of the season honestly was good enough compared to the rest of the true freshmen tight ends. Luke Hasz finished with 16 catches for 253 yards and three touchdowns. Had that big game against LSU where he had six catches for 116 yards and two scores.

He was a key piece in Arkansas’ offense before going down. A guy that the staff moved around in multiple spots and schemed up plays to get him open. He was certainly a key player for them. With Sam Pittman set to come back next season, I would expect Luke Hasz to be a focal point in their attack. He’s a versatile tight end. A guy that can move around and play in line. He can play as an H-back and is a natural pass catcher and solid blocker as well.

OL Francis Mauigoa, Miami

Freshmen All-American Team
(Photo by Neil Gershman)

Charles Power: Francis Mauigoa had the best season among true freshmen offensive linemen this fall. The former five-star plus prospect played 800 snaps at right tackle for Miami. A guy who was a Day 1 starter and proved to be a very solid, reliable player for the Hurricanes at the right tackle spot. Really excelled as a run blocker. He’s the best run blocker on Miami’s front over the course of the season and made solid progress as well in pass protection.

He’s a guy who was a big pickup for Mario Cristobal. I think he’s started paying dividends very early and looks to be a three-year starter for the Hurricanes on the offensive line and just an impact player. A guy who is just very solid overall. Gave up 24 pressures and five sacks in pass protection in addition to being a plus run blocker.

OL Kadyn Proctor, Alabama

Alabama OL Kadyn Proctor
Kadyn Proctor (Courtesy of Alabama Athletics)

Charles Power: Kadyn Proctor was thrown into the fire very early at Alabama, manning the left tackle spot for the Crimson Tide. While Alabama has played a lot of true freshmen offensive linemen, we haven’t seen a ton of those guys move out to left tackle so early. I think that just says a lot about what Nick Saban and his staff thought about Kadyn Proctor. He’s a guy who certainly has some bumps early in the season but has continued to improve. Has made great strides over his freshman season and is more than worthy of a spot on the True Freshman All-American Team.

Kadyn Proctor played 679 snaps for Alabama this year. A guy who I think is more advanced as a run blocker, but has performed well and I think continues to make strides as he’s gotten more comfortable and adjusted to the speed of the game that he sees every week in the SEC. Kadyn Proctor was a five-star plus prospect in the 2023 cycle coming out of Iowa. He was a big flip for Alabama. They flipped him from in-state Iowa relatively late in the process and he looks to be a multi-year starter on Alabama’s offensive line.

OL Chase Bisontis, Texas A&M

chase-bisontis-4-star-ol-senior-season-film
(Chase Bisontis)

Charles Power: Chase Bisontis was a big senior riser for On3 in the rankings in large part due to his advanced strength, his ability as a run blocker and his positional versatility. He’s a guy that we ranked an an interior offensive lineman, but that we view as having the flexibility to play tackle and that’s what we saw from him as a true freshman at Texas A&M. It was not surprising to hear that he had worked his way into the starting lineup as a true freshman.

He drew rave reviews in camp and has the look of a promising talent on the offensive line for the Aggies. Bisontis played 544 snaps for Texas A&M this fall and I think is a guy who certainly has the ability to be a key piece on the front for the Aggies as they make the transition from Jimbo Fisher to Mike Elko. A really strong offensive lineman. Guy who plays with very good bend and I think is one that has a lot of versatility on the front and moves well in addition to his advanced strength.

OL Spencer Fano, Utah

Spencer Fano
Courtesy of Utah athletics

Charles Power: Spencer Fano was part of a really strong offensive line haul for Utah in the 2023 cycle. Earned significant snaps at the left tackle spot for the Utes dating back to very early in the season. A guy who came in highly polished, ready to play. One who impressed us at the All-American Bowl when we saw him in January and was a riser for On3 in the rankings process. So we weren’t surprised to see him get on the field early given what he showed as a senior and in the all-star setting.

Spencer Fano ended up playing 546 snaps for the Utes. Only gave up two sacks at left tackle, so was able to hold up fairly well in pass protection. He’s better as a run blocker at this point as well. Similar to Chase Bisontis is a guy who I think has positional versatility and one who has the look of a promising player up front for Utah. I think he’ll certainly get better as he continues to get bigger and stronger and more comfortable.

OL Ethan Mackenny, Georgia Tech

Freshmen All-American Team
Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Spor

Charles Power: Similar to Eric Singleton, Ethan Mackenny was an in-state steal for Brent Key and Georgia Tech. Mackenny was a developmental type. A guy who was very lean as a high school prospect, especially earlier in his high school career. Has put on a good bit of weight and maintained his outstanding movement skills while adding that weight. Mackenny played 526 snaps at left tackle for the Yellow Jackets and held up well. Gave up just one sack over the course of the year. He’s one who I think is really probably just scratching the surface of how good he can be.

He’s gonna need to continue to get bigger and stronger, but the fact that he was able to hold up how he did as a true freshman, I think you’re really encouraged by what he showed. Similar to several others on this True Freshmen All-American Team, I think he can play multiple positions if needed. But I think the fact that he held up well at left tackle has to be really encouraging. When you look at how Georgia Tech competed down the stretch and the youth of the players who are playing key roles for them, I think you have to be excited about the future moving forward in Atlanta with Ethan Mackenny playing a key role in that.

DEFENSE
Defensive True Freshman of the Year
DB Caleb Downs, Alabama

Alabama DB Caleb Downs
Caleb Downs (Courtesy of Alabama Athletics)

Charles Power: Caleb Downs would have been the preseason pick for Defensive True Freshman of the Year and he lived up to that lofty billing this fall. He was a top 10 prospect, the No. 1 safety, and a five-star plus prospect as a recruit. A guy who I think, when you look at just the overall skill set and level of development and just what he brings to the table from a football IQ perspective and athleticism and playmaking perspective, he’s an extremely high floor prospect. One that I think we all anticipated would start relatively early for Nick Saban, which is fairly uncommon to see, especially with true freshmen defensive backs. He more than lived up to that lofty billing.

Caleb Downs was one of the best safeties in the SEC and best safeties in the country as a true freshman. A guy who has played a bunch of snaps for the Crimson Tide. He enters the SEC Championship Game with 95 tackles, two interceptions and has even emerged as their punt returner within the last couple of weeks. Led the team in tackles significantly. I think he has 34 more tackles than the next player on Alabama’s team. A guy who has really been a constant in one of the best defenses in the country in Alabama. He’s a complete playmaker. A guy who is very well-rounded already as a true freshman. Extremely tough. There was a play last week where he fought through multiple blocks for a tackle for loss on a key play. There’s just not much he doesn’t bring to the table.

I think when you’re looking at all of these defensive players, and there are several that I think in many years could be the Defensive True Freshman of the Year, Caleb Downs is the one who has really stood out over the course of the season. He’s a guy that, as we’re going through highlighting true freshmen standouts every week, he really could’ve had a case to be included most weeks just with how consistent his level of play was from start to finish. He looks like he’s next in line at Alabama. He looks like a three-and-out, first-round type. He’s the type of player that we expected him to be coming out of high school. It’s always nice when you have players who live up to that lofty billing almost immediately and that’s the case with Caleb Downs.

EDGE Rueben Bain, Miami

Freshmen All-American Team
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Charles Power: Rueben Bain was not only the best pass rusher among true freshmen, he’s also one of the best pass rushers in the ACC, if not the country, this fall. Rueben Bain had a phenomenal freshman season at Miami. I think the case could be made that he was the best defensive player for the Hurricanes when you look at just the level of play this fall. He was credited with 42 pressures. Just constantly lived in the backfield of opposing offenses. Finished the regular season with 9.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. He had multiple huge games for Miami. Namely that game against Clemson, he was virtually unblockable and had a great performance in that win.

Rueben Bain was highly productive as a prospect at Miami Central. A guy who kind of played as an interior pass rusher also played on the edge. He’s developed into a pure edge rusher for Miami. Just outstanding instincts. He has the first step and just natural pass-rush ability, understands leverage. He’s advanced technically and is a guy who I think has a lot of potential at Miami. He’s already that good of a player. I think he’ll enter next season considered one of the star pass rushers in college football just given what he showed as a freshman. So he’s who I think if you’re Mario Cristobal, having two True Freshmen All-Americans in that class, along with several others who played key roles, you have to feel pretty good about that group heading into 2024.

EDGE Nathan Johnson, Appalachian State

Courtesy of Appalachian State athletics

Charles Power: Nathan Johnson has the look of one of the best true freshmen in the Group of 5 and edges out several other worthy candidates for this second edge spot in On3’s True Freshman All-American Team. Johnson had a fantastic freshman year in Boone for App State. He played 492 snaps, registered 32 pressures, 8.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. He did that as an outside linebacker while also having to play in coverage a little bit. So maybe he didn’t have as many pass-rush opportunities as some others, but still made the most of them and showed some dynamic ability off the edge. Johnson is a big, nimble athlete. I believe he’s listed around 6’5″, 230.

He’s one who we were high on as a prospect. Felt like he was one of the better Group of 5 signees in the 2023 cycle. Got a lot of physical ability and kind of a little bit of a late bloomer at Gaffney High School in South Carolina. He’s one who instantly showed that he has a big-time talent this fall. He really kind of came along later in his high school career and launched into college from a developmental standpoint. But there’s no doubt he’s one of the best freshmen in the Group of 5 and one of the best true freshmen that we saw on defense this fall.

DL Peter Woods, Clemson

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Charles Power: Peter Woods was one of the headliners of Clemson’s freshman class. One that saw a lot of contribution for the Tigers this fall, especially on defense. He drew a ton of praise from Dabo Swinney in preseason fall camp and was one who played a lot of snaps for the Tigers along the defensive line. Woods ended up playing 268 snaps and finished with 22 tackles, 16 pressures, 2.5 tackles for loss. He was on the field a ton and figures to step into a major starting role as a sophomore.

Played alongside a lot of veteran defensive linemen and was still good enough to earn significant snaps. I think he was one of several on Clemson’s defense who were standouts as freshmen and one of two True Freshmen All-Americans for us. He was a big get for Clemson as a top 100 prospect in the 2023 cycle, a big recruiting win over in-state Alabama. He was one that certainly showed his value as a true freshman.

DL John Walker, UCF

John Walker, UCF Knights defensive lineman
Photo by Mike Watters / USA TODAY Sports

Charles Power: John Walker was the headliner of UCF’s class in 2023 and saw instant playing time in Orlando. He logged a ton of snaps on the interior for the Golden Knights. Played 363 snaps this fall and had five tackles for loss. John Walker was a blue chip prospect, an On300 prospect. A guy who starred at Osceola High in central Florida. So he was a big local get for Gus Malzahn and paid instant dividends this fall. Just a guy who was on the field a ton in league play and showed his ability to make plays in the backfield.

LB Taurean York, Texas A&M

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Charles Power: Taurean York was a late flip for Texas A&M. One who they were able to pull away from Baylor late in the process. He proved to be a big steal for the Aggies almost instantly. York was a guy who was an On3 Industry three-star prospect and he played well above that ranking this fall.

York played 518 snaps for Texas A&M, totaling 66 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. He’s a guy who’s very instinctive. He’s a tackle machine. He put up big tackle numbers in high school with well over 400 stops and has carried that over with ease to the SEC. I think it’s likely he’s gonna be a linchpin for Mike Elko’s defense moving forward. He was heavily recruited by Elko last cycle when Elko was still at Duke. So I think there’s a lot of crossover there and he’ll be one that’s a key contributor for the defense moving forward.

LB Anthony Hill, Texas

Anthony Hill Jr.
Anthony Hill Jr. (Will Gallagher/Inside Texas)

Charles Power: Anthony Hill had some huge moments as a freshman during the regular season for Texas, starting off with that big game against Alabama where he registered multiple sacks as a blitzer and pass rusher. Hill finished the season with 57 tackles for 6.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. He played 443 snaps for one of the better defenses in the Big 12, if not the country. We saw him have a pretty sizable impact while playing on a unit that has a lot of experience. He was still able to work his way onto the field and certainly served a purpose.

A guy who has a very high motor play speed. He’s physical and able to create a lot of disruption as a blitzer and pass rusher. There’s no doubt Anthony Hill had some big impact plays and high-leverage moments that helped Texas win games en route to an 11-1 season and Big 12 title game appearance. He was a huge get for Steve Sarkisian on the recruiting trail. An On3 Industry five-star prospect and that recruiting win certainly paid a lot of dividends this fall and he looks to be a big-time player for the Longhorns moving forward.

LB Kam Robinson, Virginia

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Charles Power: Kam Robinson undoubtedly was one of the more productive true freshmen defenders we saw this fall. He played a lot of snaps for Virginia and made a ton of plays in multiple facets for the Cavaliers’ defense. Robinson played 474 snaps. He totaled 71 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, a sack and two interceptions. One of those interceptions was a pick-six against Louisville.

I think when you look at what Robinson brings to the table, he’s highly active. He’s instinctual both as a run defender and in coverage. He had a big game in Virginia’s upset win over North Carolina earlier in the season and he’s one who has just continued to play better and better as the season progressed. I think if you’re a Virginia fan, you can be really excited about what the future holds with Kam Robinson. He is certainly a building block for that offense and a guy that has the look of a complete linebacker when you look at his skillset and ability to play in space, while also making plays in the box as a run defender.

DB Dillon Thieneman, Purdue

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Charles Power: Dillon Thieneman was an instant impact player for Ryan Walters in his first year at Purdue. He played a huge role in Walters’ first defense and looks to be a big-time player for the Boilermakers moving forward. Thieneman’s production is as good as any defensive true freshman. He finished with 106 tackles and six interceptions. Made a ton of big plays for Purdue over the course of the season.

Outstanding ball production. Got his hands on a lot of balls. Showed really good instincts and just highly active. He’s one who looks to be a big-time steal for Purdue. He was an On3 Industry three-star at the end of the 2023 cycle and has the look of a key contributor, multi-year starter, and star of the defense type of player. He was an in-state guy who certainly flew under the radar and has a very bright, bright future ahead in West Lafayette.

DB Khalil Barnes, Clemson

Khalil Barnes-Clemson
Khalil Barnes (John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Charles Power: Khalil Barnes blew up over the last month of the season and worked his way into clear inclusion into this True Freshmen All-American Team. Barnes had perhaps his best game of the year in Clemson’s win over South Carolina. Had a fumble recovery for a touchdown and an interception in three plays. He’s highly active. He’s a guy that can play multiple spots in Clemson’s secondary. He can play free safety, strong safety, the nickel. Just very instinctive, great ball skills. Always seems to be around the ball and is one who, when you take stock of what he did over the course of the season and especially over the last month, there’s no question he’s one of the best true freshmen defenders in the country. A guy who really deserved to be included in this true freshmen group.

He finished with 31 tackles, five tackles for loss, three interceptions and just made plays at a really high rate for when he was on the field as a blitzer, run defender, tackler and in coverage as well. Part of a really strong freshman class at Clemson. Barnes was a senior riser for On3. Moved into the On300 in the final update on the heels of very strong senior film. He’s a guy who was a little bit of a later riser relative to the rankings, but certainly living up to his status as a blue-chip prospect.

DB D’Angelo Ponds, James Madison

Courtesy of James Madison athletics

Charles Power: Defensive back was certainly the most contentious and tightest group among this True Freshmen All-America Team as there were close to 10 players who had strong cases. I think it’s hard to deny D’Angelo Ponds given what he did for James Madison, one of the best Group of 5 teams in the country. D’Angelo Ponds just had pretty remarkable ball production playing in the secondary for the Dukes. A guy who can line up at corner and get his hands on a ton of footballs. Finished with 12 pass breakups, two interceptions, 49 tackles.

He comes from a high school loaded with top prospects at Chaminade-Madonna and he flew under the radar a little bit relative to some of his teammates who signed with Power 5 programs. But there’s no doubt D’Angelo Ponds had a fantastic freshman season and is a guy who was one of the best players on James Madison’s defense. Proved to be extremely stingy. I think he even had a case as perhaps being the best player on their defense. Primarily playing outside corner as a true freshman, he’s the only true corner on this True Freshmen All-American Team and held up really well in coverage. He certainly has the look of a big-time player for James Madison moving forward.