The Football Writers of America Association released their Freshman All-America team with one notable Trojan, Cameron Smith, missing from the line up.
Smith entered the season as USC’s starting middle linebacker from Week 1, maintaining that role until he tore his ACL against Colorado in mid-November. He missed the Trojans final four games due to that injury, but still finished the season as USC’s second leading tackler behind only Su’a Cravens. He also led the team with three interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
The FWAA Freshman All-Americans at linebacker included T.J. Edwards of Wisconsin, Dre Greenlaw of Arkansas, and Malik Jefferson of Texas.
Was Smith snubbed then?
It’s hard to argue against the inclusion of Edwards and Greenlaw. The former led one of the nation’s top defenses in tackles, had six tackles for loss and forced a fumble on the season for Wisconsin. Greenlaw was extremely productive for the Razorbacks, logging 95 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and forcing two fumbles.
Jefferson’s slot, however, presents an opportunity to argue for Smith. The Texas freshman had just 61 tackles in eleven games, while Smith contributed 78 in one less contest. Jefferson’s advantage with seven tackles for loss to Smith’s single tackle behind the line could be counter-balanced by other statistical advantages. Smith had three interceptions while Jefferson had none.
Both players were instrumental in helping their teams upset a highly-ranked team. Jefferson had two sacks against Oklahoma, while Smith almost single-handled boosted the Trojans over Utah with his multiple interceptions.
With such different roles on their teams, it’s hard to gauge which player had the better season and was more deserving of the freshman All-American honor. Still, Smith undoubtedly has an argument to protest his absence considering the other freshman All-American teams on which he represented the Trojans.
Fellow freshman starter Ronald Jones II was also left off of the FWAA’s frosh team, though his place is much more difficult to argue with the likes of Saquon Barkley, Myles Gaskin and Mike Warren ahead of him.
Do you think Cameron Smith was snubbed by the FWAA? Sound off in the comments below.