Kevin Concepcion, Rico Flores Jr. shine as freshmen
Several Latino freshmen are playing pivotal roles in college football
A year after highlighting Our Esquina’s inaugural All-America high school football team, Kevin Concepcion and Rico Flores Jr. are already among the best wide receivers in college football.
When we first mentioned how loaded the Class of 2023 was with Latino football recruits, it wasn’t hyperbole. As the college regular season winds down, several Latino freshmen have already become stars for their respective teams. It will not be surprising if two Latino wide receivers – Kevin Concepcion and Rico Flores Jr. – are named to multiple Freshman All-America teams soon.
There are Latino superstars in every Division I football conference, including the Power 5 conferences. Here are some Latinos stars who deserve the recognition:
Kevin Concepcion ‘Can do it all’
Wide receiver Kevin Concepcion wasted no time feeling comfortable in N.C. State’s offense. He leads the Wolfpack in receptions (57), receiving yards (636), and touchdowns (8). He has already set a new freshman record for touchdowns at N.C. State.
The Raleigh, N.C., native has also rushed for 254 yards, which is fifth on the team. He has threw his first college touchdown last weekend.
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Kevin Concepcion was a rated as a 3 Star recruit last year. That recruiting ranking was clearly too low. He is ranked seventh in the ACC in receiving yards and third in touchdowns. He is well on his way to being the Wolfpack’s Offensive Player of the Year.
Notre Dame freshman Rico Flores Jr. has made his way up the depth chart for the No. 17 ranked Fighting Irish. The 6-foot-1 wide receiver has started five games this year.
Flores enjoys Golden Dome
His best performance thus far was in a 45-7 rout against Wake Forest. Flores registered eight receptions for 102 yards. Although he did not record a touchdown, he was the only Notre Dame receiver to bypass 100 yards.
The North Highland, Calif., native has 26 receptions for 387 yards and a touchdown this season. Flores grew up in modest circumstances near Sacramento, Calif.
He appreciates the opportunity to live and study in South Bend, Ind. Flores says his favorite part of being at Notre Dame is looking at the Golden Dome.
“I came from a rough, rough childhood,” Flores told the “Wake Up Echoes” podcast. “So seeing the Golden Dome every day just brings me to reality. Like, ‘OK, I’m actually blessed. I get to be here.’ And because I get to be here, it makes me want to be here even more.
“Especially with the season, you got classes. You got everything going on. So you gotta find somewhere or something that brings you back down to earth. I feel like the Golden Dome, its sparkle, you be like, ‘OK, that’s not in Sacramento.'”
Carlos Hernandez stars too
Flores will strive to build on his recent success against Stanford. Kevin Concepcion and Flores aren’t the only freshman wide receivers playing key roles for their teams.
Washington State’s freshman wide receiver Carlos Hernandez continues to be a major factor for the Cougars. The Monrovia, Calif., native has 24 receptions for 258 yards. He had a career-high seven receptions against nationally ranked Oregon State.
In his recent game against Colorado, the 6-foot receiver registered a season-high 77 receiving yards on two catches.
University of Arizona right guard Raymond Pulido has earned the starting role for the Wildcats. The 4-Star recruit had committed to Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide before he decommitted to stay closer to his California home. All is well for Pulido, who has overcome a fluke injury he suffered before the season and then a leg injury he suffered against Stanford in his first game.
Arizona is 8-3 and ranked No. 16. The Apple Valley, Calif. native has started the last three games for the Wildcats.
Pulido overcomes injuries
Pulido has started against Utah, Colorado, UCLA and Stanford. The 6-foot-6 offensive lineman will be relied upon in the final game of the season against Arizona State and in the future games to protect the quarterback.
Linebacker Tony Rojas has seized his opportunities at Penn State. He’s participated in eight games for the Nittany Lions. The true freshman from Fairfax, Va., has recorded 15 tackles. He has also forced a fumble and made an interception.
In his most recent game against Rutgers he had four tackles and half a tackle for loss. Freshman defensive back Jshawn Frausto-Ramos has 15 tackles for Stanford. The St. John Bosco alum has played in 11 games for the Cardinals.
Miami’s Raul Aguirre was a 4-star recruit. The freshman linebacker has played in 11 games for the Hurricanes. He has tallied four total tackles. Georgia freshman defensive back Joenel Aguero has made seven tackles and a blocked punt for No. 1 ranked Georgia.
Featured art courtesy Pack Football/X.
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