If you've watched any Ole Miss Football this year, you've seen Denzel Nkemdiche flying around the field. Known to some as the "Tasmanian Denzel," he is always around the ball and makes huge plays despite his smallish frame for a linebacker (5-foot-11, 203 pounds).
Well, now the nation is starting to take notice. On Tuesday, the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) added Nkemdiche to the 2012 CFPA National Freshman Performer of the Year Watch List. He is one of 32 Division I FBS players on the list.
The redshirt-freshman from Loganville, Ga., leads Ole Miss with 52 tackles, 9.0 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and two interceptions. He is tied for sixth in the SEC in TFLs and leads all freshmen in that category. He has helped the Rebels to an amazing turnaround from last year with a 5-3 record through eight games, just one victory shy of bowl eligibility.
Previous FBS recipients of the CFPA National Freshman Performer of the Year include Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller (2011), South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore (2010), and Oregon running back LaMichael James (2009).
Other SEC players on this year's watch list include Amari Cooper (Alabama WR), T.J. Yeldon (Alabama RB), Todd Gurley (Georgia RB), Keith Marshall (Georgia RB), Landon Foster (Kentucky P), Jeremy Hill (LSU RB) and Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M QB).