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December 14, 2010
Veterans are indispensible to any championship team, but certain freshmen this season become more important to their teams than some upperclassmen.
Just take a look at some of the teams in the BCS. Auburn heads to the national championship game with a freshman tailback. Wisconsin needed a freshman to pick up the slack for an injured John Clay as the Badgers sealed a trip to the Rose Bowl. Arkansas is headed to the Sugar Bowl with two freshman starters on the offensive line. Big 12 champion Oklahoma also has freshmen starting on the offensive line, at linebacker and at receiver.
Even teams that didn't win their leagues relied on freshmen: South Carolina and Nebraska fell short of conference titles, but neither team would have reached league championship games if not for freshmen in their starting backfields.
While last season may have been the year of the freshman running back -- think of LaMichael James, Dion Lewis and Ryan Williams -- this season featured more complementary players. Still, being a freshman All-American can be a preview of future accolades. Two of last season's freshman All-Americans, James and Stanford's Andrew Luck, ended up as Heisman finalists as sophomores.
Here is the Rivals.com 2010 Freshman All-America team. (Redshirt freshmen are denoted with an asterisk.)