It’s now time for the final edition of our four-part series where we choose Georgia football player of the year by class. Today we choose the Dawgs’ top freshman.
With a loaded 2016 recruiting class that was ranked eighth in 247sports’ team recruiting rankings, there was high hopes around this freshman class, and it’s safe to say they met expectations.
The class featured three five-star prospects, but one of those was asked to do much more than the others.
Dawn of the Dawg Freshman of the Year:
Eason’s freshman year was far from flawless, but the 6’5 signal-caller was asked to take control of this football team, and that’s just what he did.
In Eason’s first career start on the road at Missouri, he showed exactly why he was the top ranked high school quarterback in the country coming out of Lake Stevens, Wash.
The true freshen completed 29 passes on 55 attempts, tying Quincy Carter for the third most attempts in a single game in school history. He threw for 308 yards and three touchdowns, including the dramatic game-winnng touchdown to Isaiah McKenzie with just over a minute remaining.
Against Tennessee, Eason nearly got the signature win of his and Kirby Smart’s first year in Athens. Eason hit Riley Ridley on a 47-yard strike with nine seconds remaining. He showed resilience and moxie to bounce back from the sack in the end zone that Tennessee recovered for touchdown on the previous possession. But we all know how that game turned out.
Eason finished the season throwing for 2,430 yards, 16 touchdowns, and eight interceptions while completing just 55 percent of his passes.
While he did show signs of being superstar in 2016, he also made some freshman mistakes. But remember, he was just a freshman. Everyone knows about the big arm, but if he and the Georgia program are going to take the next step, he’s got to be more accurate. And with a full season as a starting quarterback now under Eason’s belt, the future looks bright in Athens.
Freshman of the Year Honorable Mention
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Nauta was a close second for freshman of the year. The former five-star tight end was third on the team with 29 receptions for 361 yards. And Nauta was also was second on the team with three touchdowns. He showed great chemistry with Eason and could be a three-and-out candidate for the NFL in a couple years.
Other notable freshman: Julian Rochester, Brian Herrien, Riley Ridley, David Marshall
Roquan Smith was named Sophomore of the Year while Trenton Thompson was honorable mention. Isaiah McKenzie was Junior of the Year, Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and Dominick Sanders were honorable mentions. Maurice Smith was Senior of the Year, Brandon Kublanow and Greg Pyke were honorable mentions.