CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Can Ryan Switzer someday be a first-round pick in the NFL Draft? What about a Heisman Trophy winner?
Those might seem like outlandish questions to pose about the diminutive speedster from the hills of West Virginia, but the Football Writers Association of America made Switzer part of an exclusive group.
Switzer, the former George Washington football standout who became a two-time Kennedy Award winner, smashed records during his true freshman season at the University of North Carolina. The FWAA placed Switzer on its 70th All-America team and 13th Freshman All-America team, one of six players ever to appear on both squads in the same season.
The others: Adrian Peterson (Running back, Oklahoma, 2004); Michael Crabtree (Wide receiver, Texas Tech, 2007); Jeremy Maclin (Wide receiver, Missouri, 2007); Johnny Manziel (Quarterback, Texas A&M, 2012); and Jameis Winston (Quarterback, Florida State, 2013).
Peterson, Crabtree and Maclin were all first-round draft selections. Manziel and Winston are the last two Heisman winners.
Not bad company, eh?
Unlike Manziel and Winston, though, Switzer made the FWAA teams as a true freshman. Manziel and Winston each benefited from a redshirt season. The last true freshman to make the All-America team was Peterson in 2004.
Switzer, by the way, finished awards season as the Belk Bowl MVP, a first-team selection for All-ACC (punt returner), ESPN.com (kick returner) and Athlon (return specialist). CBSSports.com (punt returner) and USA Today (return specialist) named Switzer a second-team All-American.
He also made the Athlon and Sporting News Freshman All-America teams.
Switzer finished with 502 punt return yards, five touchdowns and a 20.92 average per punt return. All of those led the nation. The five scores on punt returns tied the NCAA single-season record (Chad Owens, Hawaii, 2004), and Switzer became UNC's first true freshman All-American since 1977.
Maybe Switzer will never walk across the stage at Radio City Music Hall or get invited to the building at the corner of 44th and Broadway as a finalist for college football's top honor, but after this season, why doubt him?
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MARSHALL EXPERIENCED a historic three-day stretch against North Texas and Tulsa.