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Nate Johnson
Nate Johnson was named a second team all-conference selection this season as well.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

Appalachian State’s Johnson Named to Freshman All-American Team

App State’s Nate Johnson has been named to the 2023 Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-America Team, making him the third Mountaineer to receive that honor from the Football Writers Association of America since the program moved up to the FBS level in 2014.

As a true freshman playing outside linebacker for App State, which won the Sun Belt’s East Division before finishing the 2023 season with a 9-5 record, Johnson’s 7.5 sacks tied for the FBS lead among true freshmen. He also had 43 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and a key forced fumble late in the Cure Bowl victory.

Honored by the FWAA as a defensive lineman, Johnson played in all 14 games and made 10 starts, including the final nine games. The other two App State players honored as FWAA Freshman All-Americans were cornerback Clifton Duck (2016) and punter Clayton Howell (2018).

Johnson previously had earned freshman or true freshman All-America recognition from The Athletic, 247Sports, On3, the College Football Network and the College Football News.

Following is the complete 2023 FWAA Freshman All-America Team:


QB Noah Fifita, Arizona (5-11, 195, RFr., Huntington Beach, Calif.)
RB Jalen Buckley, Western Michigan (5-11, 210, RFr., Aurora, Ill.)
RB Makhi Hughes, Tulane (5-11, 205, RFr., Birmingham, Ala.)
WR Nic Anderson, Oklahoma (6-4, 207, RFr., Katy, Texas)
WR Pofele Ashlock, Hawaii (6-2, 175, Fr., Euless, Texas)
WR Eric Singleton Jr., Georgia Tech (5-11, 173, Fr., Douglasville, Ga.)
WR Eugene Wilson III, Florida (5-10, 170, Fr., Tampa, Fla.)
TE Arlis Boardingham, Florida (6-3, 248, RFr., Van Nuys, Calif.)
T Earnest Greene III, Georgia (6-4, 320, RFr., Los Angeles, Calif.)
T Francis Mauigoa, Miami (6-6, 330, Fr., Ili’ili, American Samoa)
G Cayden Green, Oklahoma (6-5, 316, Fr., Lee’s Summit, Mo.)
G Shadre Hurst, Tulane (6-2, 305, RFr., Cartersville, Ga.)
C Parker Brailsford, Washington (6-2, 275, Mesa, Ariz.)


DL Rueben Bain Jr., Miami (6-3, 270, Fr., Miami, Fla.)
DL TJ Bush, Liberty (6-2, 255, Fr., Woodridge, Va.)
DL Nate Johnson, App State (6-5, 230, Fr., Gaffney, S.C.)
DL T.J. Parker, Clemson (6-3, 255, Fr., Phenix City, Ala.)
DL Peter Woods, Clemson (6-2, 315, Fr., Alabaster, Ala.)
LB CJ Allen, Georgia (6-1, 235, Fr., Barnesville, Ga.)
LB Anthony Hill, Texas (6-3, 234, Fr., Denton, Texas)
LB Ben Roberts, Texas Tech (6-3, 230, RFr., Haslet, Texas)
LB Cade Uluave, California (6-1, 230, Fr., South Jordan, Utah)
CB D’Angelo Ponds, James Madison (5-9, 162, Fr., West Park, Fla.)
CB Raion Strader, Miami (Ohio) (6-0, 180, Fr., Pittsburgh, Pa.)
S Khalil Barnes, Clemson (6-0, 195, Fr., Athens, Ga.)
S Caleb Downs, Alabama, 6-0 (203, Fr., Hoschton, Ga.)
S Dillon Thieneman, Purdue (6-0, 205, Fr., Westfield, Ind.)


K Peyton Woodring, Georgia (5-10, 175, Fr., Lafayette, La.)
P Ryan Eckley, Michigan State (6-2, 205, RFr., Lithia, Fla.)
KR DeAndre Buchannon, Georgia Southern (5-11, 175, Fr., Atlanta, Ga.)
PR Zacharia Branch, USC (5-10, 175, Fr., Las Vegas, Nev.)
AP Kevin “KC” Concepcion, NC State (5-11, 187, Fr., Charlotte, N.C.)

Schools: Clemson 3, Georgia 3, Florida 2, Miami 2, Oklahoma 2, Tulane 2, Alabama 1, App State 1, Arizona 1, California 1, Georgia Southern 1, Georgia Tech 1, Hawaii 1, James Madison 1, Liberty 1, Miami (Ohio) 1, Michigan State 1, NC State 1, Purdue 1, Texas 1, Texas Tech 1, USC 1, Washington 1, Western Michigan 1.

Conferences: ACC 7, SEC 6, Big 12 4, Pac-12 4, Sun Belt 3, American Athletic 2, Big Ten 2, Mid-American 2, CUSA 1, Mountain West 1, Independents 0.

True Freshmen: 22; Redshirt Freshmen: 10.