Farrell Freshman 15: Countdown begins with Nos. 13-15
Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.
The Farrell Freshman 15 begins today with a look at Nos. 13-15, highlighted by a Big 12 quarterback.
The skinny: Holland trimmed his list of top schools down to Oregon, UCLA, Washington and Notre Dame before committing to the Ducks in early May. In Eugene, Holland earned more playing time as the season progressed, finishing with 42 tackles, six pass break-ups and a team-leading five interceptions. With Ugo Amadi graduating, Holland looks poised to take over the starting free safety position for the Ducks in 2019.
Farrell’s take: Holland was a talented defensive back with good speed and excellent instincts who had a solid frame to fill out. But his ball skills stood out the most so it’s not surprising that he had five picks as a freshman. He could be one of the best defensive backs in the Pac-12 moving forward.
The skinny: While he finished his high school career at IMG Academy in Florida, the South Carolina-born Thomas seemed destined to play his college ball at either Clemson or South Carolina. At different points both programs seemed to lead, but when he was ready to make a final decision, he committed to the Tigers in early April. Despite playing behind a loaded and much publicized defense line in Death Valley, Thomas still showcased all of his abilities while finishing with 33 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks and one forced fumble. With more playing time coming his way in 2019, look for his production levels to continue to improve.
Farrell’s take: Thomas was our No. 5 player overall in 2018 so obviously we liked him a lot. He was explosive, powerful and had a great first step. He still had a very good year despite the depth at Clemson on the defensive line. He’s going to be a star in the ACC.
The skinny: Purdy took official visits to Iowa State, Texas A&M, Alabama, UCF and Boise State before trimming his list down to the Cyclones and Aggies. Finally, he committed to Iowa State on National Signing Day. Despite not gaining the starting job in Ames until early October, Purdy still finished with 2,250 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions while completing over 66 percent of his attempts.
Farrell’s take: Purdy was a low three-star and has outplayed his ranking. He makes smart decisions and doesn’t force the ball, rare for a young quarterback. He was one of the bigger surprises of the football season.