FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WCBI/Ole Miss Athletics) — Denzel Nkemdiche added another prestigious honor to his growing collection on Monday, as the Ole Miss linebacker was named to the Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-America Team.
A redshirt-freshman who became a team leader in his first season on the field, Nkemdiche was previously recognized as a Freshman All-American by Scout.com, College Football News and Phil Steele. He was a second-team All-SEC honoree by the AP, College Sports Madness and Phil Steele and earned SEC All-Freshman distinction from the league coaches and ESPN.com.
Nkemdiche is the first Ole Miss player to earn FWAA Freshman All-America accolades since the organization began naming a freshman team in 2001. He is one of four SEC players to make this year’s squad, along with Alabama WR Amari Cooper, Georgia RB Todd Gurley and Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel.
The Loganville, Ga., native earned a starting role at Stinger out of preseason camp and helped lead the Rebels from a last-place preseason pick all the way to a win over Pitt in the 2013 BBVA Compass Bowl. An undersized SEC linebacker at 5-foot-11 and 203 pounds, Nkemdiche led Ole Miss with 82 tackles, 13.0 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles and three interceptions this year.
Nkemdiche finished tied for ninth in the SEC and tops among freshmen with 1.0 tackles for loss per outing, and third nationally among all freshmen. He’s one of just two SEC players that forced four fumbles in league play, along with SEC Defensive Player of the Year Jarvis Jones from Georgia.
2012 FWAA Freshman All-America Team
QB—Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M, 6-1, 200, Kerrville, Texas
*RB—Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech, 6-0, 215, Strong, Ark.
*RB — Todd Gurley, Georgia, 6-1, 218, Tarboro, N.C.
*WR — Amari Cooper, Alabama, 6-1, 198, Miami, Fla
WR — J.D. McKissic, Arkansas State, 5-10, 185, Phenix City, Ala.
WR— Davante Adams, Fresno State, 6-2, 200, Palo Alto, Calif.
OL — Tyler Johnstone, Oregon, 6-6; 292, Chandler, Ariz.
OL—Jake Brendel, UCLA, 6-4, 295, Plano, Texas
OL— Jack Allen, Michigan State, 6-1, 295, Hinsdale, Ill.
OL—Austin Blythe, Iowa, 6-3, 275, Williamsburg, Iowa
OL—Le’Raven Clark, Texas Tech, 6-5, 303, Rockdale, Texas
OL — Parker Ehinger, Cincinnati, 6-7, 290, Rockford, Mich.
*TE—Devin Funchess, Michigan, 6-5, 229, Farmington Hills, Mich.
*DL Devonte Fields, TCU, 6-4, 240, Arlington, Texas
*DL Leonard Williams, Southern Cal, 6-5, 270, Daytona Beach, Fla.
DL Deion Barnes, Penn State, 6-4, 246, Philadelphia, Penn.
DL Samuel Ukwuachu, Boise State, 6-4, 222, Pearland, Texas
LB —Denzel Nkemdiche, Ole Miss, 5-11, 203, Loganville, Ga.
LB— Tyler Matakevich, Temple, 6-1. 220, Stratford, Conn.
LB—Kyler Fackrell, Utah State, 6-5, 236, Mesa, Ariz.
LB—Cory James, Colorado State, 6-0, 235, Del Rio, Texas
*DB- Ronald Darby, Florida State, 5-11, 189, Oxon Hill, Md.
*DB- KeiVarae Russell, Notre Dame, 5-11, 182, Everett, Wash.
*DB-Trevon Stewart, Houston, 5-9, 183, Patterson, La.
DB-Kevin Byard, Middle Tennessee, 5-11, 220, Lithonia, Ga.
*P—Tyler Williams, Marshall, 6-0, 195, Fort Wayne, Ind.
*K—Austin Lopez, San Jose State, 6-0, 170, Euless, Texas
PR—Jaime Wilson, Western Michigan, 5-11, 196, Belle Glade, Fla.
*KR—Duke Johnson, Miami (Fla.), 5-9, 188, Miami, Fla.
*AP-Stefon Diggs, Maryland, 6-1, 185, Gaithersburg, Md.