In past years, the National Freshman of the Year has hailed from Pennsylvania, Florida, and New Jersey, a decent cross-section of the high school football world.
This year, the nation’s top freshman hails from Salt Lake City.
Austin Kafentzis, the quarterback who led Jordan to the Class 5A title game as a ninth-grader, is the 2011 U.S. Air Force National Freshman of the Year.
The 6-foot-1, 170-pound signal-caller had one of the most productive seasons ever for a freshman. He completed 212 of 366 passes for 3,188 yards and 23 scores while rushing 210 times for 1,377 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Surpassing 4,500 yards playing against some of Utah’s top programs is difficult for any quarterback to do, never mind a newly minted 15 year old in his first varsity season.
Kafentzis edged First Coast (Jacksonville, Fla.) quarterback De’Andre Johnson, Red Lion Christian (Bear, Del.) quarterback David Sills and Cass Tech (Detroit, Mich.) quarterback Jayru Campbell. He leads a promising group of future stars on the U.S. Air Force Freshman All-American Team.
FIRST TEAM OFFENSE
Darquavious Mangham, WR, 6-3, 180, Griffin (Ga.)
Mangham is already a highly coveted recruit. He earned all-region honors in 2011.C.J. Sanders, WR, 5-9, 170, Brentwood Academy (Tenn.)
Also a running back, Sanders is just as capable lining up at wide receiver, where he averaged more than 16 yards per catch.Christian Kirk, WR, 5-9, 160, Saguaro (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
Kirk was a freshman sensation for Saguaro. He caught 34 passes for 589 yards and nine touchdowns and already has a scholarship offer from UCLA.Arden Key, TE, 6-4, 185, Southwest DeKalb (Decatur, Ga.)
Key catches the ball well but also made his mark blocking in Southwest Dekalb’s rushing attack. He’s already receiving interest from the SEC.Steven Clark, OL, 6-5, 285, Alliance (Ohio)
Clark looks like the top freshman offensive lineman in Ohio.
Zach Rogers, OL, 6-4, 265, Hebron (Carrollton, Texas)
Rogers earned all-league honorable mention honors for his work up front for Hebron.Zach Hickman, OL, 6-3, 255, Tesoro (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.)
Hickman was a key piece to Tesoro’s offensive line from Week 1 through the team’s shocking upset of Servite.Reno Rosene, OL, 6-5, 300, Oaks Christian (Westlake Village, Calif.)
Rosene was a contributor on the offensive line for a very good Oaks Christian team. With his size, he looks to have the makings of a top recruit.Lester Cotton, OL, 6-4, 270, East St. Louis (Ill.)
East St. Louis is no stranger to talent, and Cotton looks like the school’s next top recruit in the trenches.Austin Kafentzis, QB, 6-1, 170, Jordan (Sandy, Utah)
The National Freshman of the Year led Class 5A Jordan to a berth in the state final, accumulating more than 4,500 yards in the process.DeAndre Johnson, QB, 6-0, 165, First Coast (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Johnson excelled against a brutal schedule, throwing for 2,706 yards and 24 scores.Rodney Anderson, RB, 5-10, 170, Katy (Texas)
For a team that rarely plays freshmen, Anderson left his mark, rushing 141 times for 1,098 yards and 16 touchdowns.Andre Robinson, RB, 5-10, 190, Bishop McDevitt (Harrisburg, Pa.)
Already drawing comparisons to great Bishop McDevitt running backs from the past, Robinson had a solid freshman campaign, rushing for 685 yards on 88 attempts and scoring 14 times.
Jordan Scarlett, RB, 5-11, 190, University (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
On a talent-laden squad, Scarlett still managed to stand out, carrying the ball 56 times for a whopping 568 yards (10.1 yards per carry). He found the end zone 14 times.Jayru Campbell, QB, 6-3, 180, Cass Tech (Detroit)
Campbell led Cass Tech to a state title, punctuated by a five-touchdown performance in the finals against Catholic Central.Tayler Middlebrooks, K, 5-10, 145, Parkview (Springfield, Mo.)
An all-district pick by the News-Leader, Middlebrooks nailed eight field goals and 19 PATs.