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Top 10 Freshman Football Players 2023 Rankings

Ranking the best College Freshman Football Players of the 2023- 2024 NCAA Football season as Dillon Thieneman leads the way


By admin | May 3, 2024

College Football Freshman to Watch 2023

The future of college football as well as the NFL game starts and revolves around talented freshmen who not only put together strong careers but also strong starts during their freshman football season. As you start to look around college football this season the game is loaded with a thorough list of talented freshmen to include the Purdue Boilermakers safety Dillon Thieneman who finished off a brilliant freshman season while ranking among the best safeties in all of college football. Theineman currently headlines the top freshman landing on the Top 10 Best College Freshman Football Players 2023 Rankings list.

The Purdue Boilermakers safety ranked among the leaders of all freshman defensive backs in tackles (74) and interceptions (6). As Theineman headlines the crop of freshmen during the 2023 NCAA Football season, he is just one of many bright stars of college football that also includes redshirt freshman quarterback Noah Fifita of the Arizona Wildcats who helped lead the team to a strong 10-3 record within a difficult PAC-12 conference.

Joining Theineman and Fifita among the best freshmen in football include running back Caleb Downs of the Alabama Crimson Tide, wide receiver Kevin Concepcion of the NC State Wolfpack, and defensive lineman Rueben Bain Jr of the Miami Hurricanes.

Here is a look at the Top 10 Best College Football Freshman 2023 Rankings:

Honorable Mention

Jalen Buckley

School: Western Michigan Broncos

Position: Running Back
Previous Ranking: Unranked

The redshirt freshman stepped up in a big way for the Western Michigan Broncos rushing for 1,003 yards on 189 total carries.

Buckley who is from Aurora, Illinois arrived with the Broncos as an unranked freshman, showcased his abilities as a playmaking running back posting four 100 yard performances helping to increase his average yard per carry to 5.3 on the season.

In addition to the 1,003 yards, Buckley posted 10 rushing touchdowns as well as 161 total yards on 18 receptions.

Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi

School: Colorado State Rams

Position: Quarterback
Previous Ranking: 1

Just missing the Top 10 Best Freshman Football Players 2023 Rankings list is the Colorado State Rams freshman quarterback Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi. Fowler-Nicolosi who is from Aledo, Texas arrived on campus as a three star recruit just last season is one of the many talented redshirt freshmen to put together a strong season.

Taking over as the starter in his first full season, Fowler-Nicolosi threw for 3,460 yards to go along with 22 touchdown passes and 16 interceptions. The Rams quarterback posted at least two touchdown passes in eight different games including three games with at least three touchdown passes.

Top 10 Best College Freshman Football Players

10. Taurean York

School: Texas A&M Aggies

Position: Linebacker
Previous Ranking: Unranked

Coming in at number 10 on the Top 10 Best College Football Freshman 2023 Rankings list is the Texas A&M Aggies linebacker Taurean York. York, who put together a stellar high school career including winning the Defensive MVP three years straight landed on with the Aggies as a three star recruit heading into the 2023 NCAA Football season.

York, who is from Temple, Texas did not disappoint in his freshman season posting 74 tackles to go along with three sacks and one forced fumble. The Aggies freshman posted at least six tackles in seven games including a season high 11 tackles in the teams 27-10 win over the Auburn Tigers.

9. Paul Fitzgerald

School: Utah State Aggies

Position: Defensive End
Previous Ranking: Unranked

With the game of football continuing to evolve to a heavy passing style across both the college football landscape as well as at the next level in the NFL, the need for pass rushers are at an all time high.

One freshman defensive end making a name for himself among the top young pass rushers in college football is Paul Fitzgerald of the Utah State Aggies. The Aggies freshman capped off a strong freshman season leading all freshmen with eight sacks over 13 games played.

Fitzgerald’s play continued through the entire season including posting a strong three sack game in the teams 45-22 loss within the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. The future looks bright for Fitzgerald as he has an opportunity to build on a strong freshman season.

8. Rocco Becht

School: Iowa State Cyclones

Position: Quarterback
Previous Ranking: 6

The freshman class of quarterback was loaded with talent including Iowa State Cycles freshman quarterback Rocco Becht. Becht, who is a redshirt freshman posted a strong first full season with the Cyclones while leading the team to a 7-5 regular season record.

The strong regular season helped earn the Cyclones a trip to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. Becht finished the season with a 7-6 record while throwing for 3,120 yards with 23 touchdowns to just eight interceptions including three games with at least 300 yards. In addition, the Cyclones quarterback threw at least two touchdowns in eight different games this season.

7. D’Angelo Ponds

School: James Madison Dukes

Position: Cornerback
Previous Ranking: Unranked

While smaller schools around college football often get overlooked during the season, it is hard to look past the success of the James Madison Dukes this season including freshman cornerback D’Angelo Ponds.

Ponds ranked among the best freshman cornerback in college football as well as among the best overall cornerback in the game. The Dukes cornerback posted 52 tackles on the season to go along with two interceptions.

Even more impressive than those stats was the 12 passes defensed Ponds posted while showcasing his playmaking abilities at the position.

6. Makhi Hughes

School: Tulane Green Wave

Position: Running Back
Previous Ranking: 5

The Tulane Green Wave put together a stellar 2023 NCAA Football season rolling along to an 11-3 record. One of the team’s bright spots leading the way was freshman running back Makhi Hughes who arrived on campus as a three star recruit from Birmingham, Alabama.

The 5 foot 11 inch running back did not disappoint, leading all freshman running backs in rushing yards while rushing for 1,378 yards on 258 carries.

In addition, the Green Wave running back was tied for 4th among all freshmen with seven rushing touchdowns. Over the final 10 games of the season, Hughes posted seven 100 yard rushing performances and six touchdowns.

5. Kevin Concepcion

School: NC State Wolfpack

Position: Wide Receiver
Previous Ranking: Honorable Mention

Rounding out the Top 5 on the Top 10 Best College Football Freshman 2023 Rankings list is the NC State Wolfpack freshman wide receiver Kevin Concepcion.

Concepcion, who is from Charlotte North Carolina, put together a strong freshman season ranking among the top wide receivers within the Atlantic Coastal Conference (ACC). The 23rd ranked prospect within the state of North Carolina did not disappoint posting 71 catches on the season for 839 yards while finding the endzone 10 times.

Overall, the Wolfpack freshman finished the season leading all freshman wide receivers in yards and tied for the lead with 10 touchdown receptions.

4. Noah Fifita

School: Arizona Wildcats

Position: Quarterback
Previous Ranking: Unranked

When it comes to playmaking freshman it is hard to look past the redshirt freshman of the Arizona Wildcats who led the team to an amazing season including picking up a 38-24 win within the Valero Alamo Bowl against the Oklahoma Sooners.

The Wildcats freshman quarterback threw for 2,869 yards while completing 72.4 of his 333 pass attempts across the season.

In addition, Fifita threw for 25 touchdown passes to just six interceptions while posting a QBR mark of 83.8 which ranked 8th within college football. With Fifita under center the Wildcats posted an incredible 5-2 record against teams ranked within the AP Top 25 rankings.

3. Rueben Bain Jr.

School: Miami Hurricanes

Position: Defensive End
Previous Ranking: Unranked

One freshman making a big name for himself during the 2023 NCAA Football season was the Miami Hurricanes defensive lineman Rueben Bain Jr. Bain Jr arrived with the Hurricanes ranked as the 15th best recruit from the state of Florida as well as the 10th ranked edge defender in the nation.

The former four-star recruit shined during his first season ranking among the best defensive lineman in college football. Over the course of the season Bain Jr racked up 44 total tackles, 7.5 sacks while forcing three fumbles and recovering three fumbles.

In addition, the Hurricanes defender posted at least seven tackles in three different games while bolstering the team’s defensive line.

2. Caleb Downs

School: Alabama Crimson Tide

Position: Defensive Back 
Previous Ranking: 10

The playmaking safety of the Alabama Crimson Tide finished ranked among the best defensive players in college football as well as one of the top freshmen in the game.

Downs, who was a five-star recruit of the Crimson Tide lived up to the hype while also being ranked as the top overall safety and 8th best recruit prospect entering the 2023 NCAA Football season. Downs finished the season posting 107 total tackles, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, three passes defensed and two interceptions.

In addition, Downs also posted an 85 yard punt return touchdown showcasing his playmaking abilities. His play on the field earned Downs a number of honors including being selected as a First-Team ALL-SEC selection.

1. Dillon Thieneman

School: Purdue Boilermakers

Position: Safety
Previous Ranking: 7

In at number one on the Top 10 Best College Football Freshman 2023 Rankings list is another talented safety who put together an incredible freshman season.

Thieneman led all freshmen with six interceptions across the season while also posting two passes defensed and two fumble recoveries.

In addition, the Purdue Boilermakers star freshman posted 106 tackles trailing only Caleb Downs among all freshmen in tackles. Despite arriving as only a three-star recruit, the freshman safety played as well as any safety in college football as well as among the best defensive players in the country.

How would you rank these College Football Freshman in the 2023-2024 BCS season? Rank below to be added in the NCAA Power Rankings 

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Players Count 10
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