Florida offensive lineman Martez Ivey and defensive lineman CeCe Jefferson were named to the 2015 SEC All-Freshman Team on Thursday. As they did with the All-SEC Teams, the league opted to name players at position group rather than at a defined position. Both of Florida's selections to the SEC All-Freshman Team this year were highly regarded five-star recruits who saw playing time early, and often, for the Gators.
Jefferson played a big role on the Gators' defensive line this season, and is tied for second on the team in sacks with three and a half. As a freshman, he recorded 28 tackles, including 8.5 tackles for loss. Ivey was thrust into early playing time as a freshman due to depth issues on Florida's offensive line. The freshman made seven starts this season on the offensive line, after missing playing time early in the season due to injury.
Seven current Florida players also were named to the SEC All-Freshman Team in their freshman seasons. Those players: Jonathan Bullard (2012), Antonio Morrison (2012), Vernon Hargreaves III (2013), Kelvin Taylor (2013), Johnny Townsend (2013), Treon Harris (2014), and Jalen Tabor (2014).
I would be remiss not to note that Florida's freshman phenom, wide receiver and punt returner Antonio Callaway, was notably absent from the list. Texas A&M's Christian Kirk received the nod at wide receiver, return specialist, and all-purpose player. Kirk is the first player in SEC history to receive three spots on the All-Freshman Team. The other freshman who received recognition at wide receiver was Alabama's Calvin Ridley.
Kirk and Callaway both have two punt return touchdowns, but Kirk also has returned 20 kicks for the Aggies. Callaway amassed 435 yards on 28 punt returns this year for the Gators; Kirk had 341 yards on 14 punt returns and 348 yards on 20 kick returns. Kirk was fourth, and Ridley was fifth, in the SEC in receptions. Those were the highest totals recorded by freshmen; Callaway was third among SEC freshmen in catches, but 19th overall, though he did lead the SEC in yards per catch.
Still, Callaway undoubtedly meant a lot to the Gators this year and was often the team's most reliable offensive weapon. He earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors after the Tennessee Game, in which he scored the touchdown that would cap off a legendary comeback over the Volunteers. Callaway constantly came up with big plays to keep Florida in games.
Some Florida fans will certainly be wondering if one of Kirk's three nods could have gone to Florida's fabulous freshman instead.