Through the first four weeks of the college football season, there have not been as many freshman standouts as usual. Whether that’s due to a weaker recruiting class, more returning veterans or a mix of both remains to be seen.
Despite the lack of quantity, there are still several first-year players who have delivered quality numbers for their teams over the first quarter of the 2015 season.
Here are the top SEC Freshman of the Year candidates entering Week 5:
- Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M: There may not be a more exciting newcomer in the SEC through the first four games than Kirk. The Aggies receiver has caught 24 passes for 442 yards and four touchdowns, including a 66-yard touchdown catch in his first collegiate game.
- Will Grier, QB, Florida: Although coach Jim McElwain has not officially declared the starting quarterback battle over, Grier has played well for Florida during his time on the field. The freshman is 62-of-99 passing for 725 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions. His poise in the Gators’ comeback win over Tennessee may have been the most impressive moment for him thus far.
- Jauan Jennings, WR, Tennessee: Jennings has seven catches for 77 yards through Tennessee’s first four games, but he also made a cameo at quarterback in perhaps his biggest play for the Vols this season. In the first quarter of Tennessee’s loss to Florida, Jennings threw a 58-yard touchdown pass to quarterback Josh Dobbs on a double-pass trick play.
- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama: The Crimson Tide’s depth at receiver has slowly dwinded, which will allow Ridley to have a bigger role in the offense. Through four games, Ridley has 17 catches for 125 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Jake Coker has looked Ridley’s way plenty of times, but the two should be able to develop better chemistry as the season wears on.
- Arden Key, DE, LSU: In limited playing time, Key has already made an impact for the LSU defense. Through three games, the freshman pass rusher has nine tackles and a sack. Key is part of a talented freshman class for the Tigers, but he may prove to be the best of the bunch at season’s end.
- Daylon Mack, DL, Texas A&M: Mack has become a consistent producer with big-play ability for the Aggies. A stout 6-foot-1, 340-pound bowling ball, Mack has recorded 14 tackles and four for a loss through the team’s first four games.
- Lorenzo Nunez, QB, South Carolina: Nunez was named the starting quarterback before last week’s game against UCF. Although it appeared that coach Steve Spurrier kept the playbook relatively simple for his freshman starter, Nunez completed 12 of his 22 attempts for 184 yards and two touchdowns. A true duel-threat quarterback, Nunez also ran the ball 18 times for 123 yards in Saturday’s win. Once he becomes more comfortable in the offense, Nunez could put up some major numbers for the Gamecocks.
— The Opening (@TheOpening) September 28, 2015
— Tennessee Fan Base (@VolsFanBASE) September 28, 2015
Arden Key with the sack https://t.co/naHeOFm5CS
— Cody Worsham (@CodyWorsham) September 13, 2015
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