Football Writers Association of America Nov. 16, 2021
For Immediate Release
Contact: Steve Richardson
214-870-6516
A weekly look at the first-year standout players and coaches
Bookmark and Share  
2021 FRESHMAN FOCUS: WEEK 11

DALLAS (FWAA) Each week during the 2021 season, we will highlight the notable performances of first-year players and head coaches leading up to the selection of our annual Freshman All-America Team and the Steve Spurrier First-Year Coach of the Year Award presented by Chris Doering Mortgage. Here are the top performances from Week 11, the weekend of Nov. 13:

FIRST-YEAR PLAYERS: THE FRESH FOUR

Denzel Burke, CB, Ohio State (6-1, 192, Scottsdale, Ariz.): 11 tackles, 1 pass defended

Burke continued to establish himself as one of the top corners in the country Saturday in Ohio State's 59-31 whooping of Purdue. The emerging star kept his side of the field near silent again and is still yet to allow a touchdown in coverage in over 300 snaps this season. The true freshman will aim to make his presence known again next week with Michigan State coming to town and control of the Big Ten East on the table.

Devin Neal, RB, Kansas (5-11, 210, Lawrence, Kan.): 24 rushes, 143 yards, 3 TD; 2 receptions, 26 yards 1 TD

Neal's incredible performance fueled Kansas' fourth win against Texas in program history, a 57-56 overtime thriller. The true freshman capped the Jayhawk win with a 2-yard touchdown run in overtime to set up a game-winning two-point conversion. The hometown hero will look to keep rolling next weekend on the road against conference foe TCU.

Lew Nichols III, RB, Central Michigan (5-10, 220, Detroit, Mich.): 43 rushes, 215 yards, 4 TD; 4 receptions, 33 yards

It was business as usual for Nichols Saturday as his career-high in yards rushing and touchdowns led Central Michigan to a 54-30 win against Kent State. The redshirt freshman barreled over Golden Flash defenders all afternoon in the victory. His 1,494 yards rushing currently lead all FBS freshmen. Nichols will try to top his new career-high Wednesday at Ball State.

Kansas' Devin Neal (Icon Sportswire)

C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State (6-3, 218, Empire, Calif.): 31/38, 361 yards, 5 TD

Stroud led Ohio State to its fourth game of 50 points or more this season in its 59-31 win over Purdue. The redshirt freshman could not seem to miss in the victory, distributing the ball with efficiency, intelligence, and accuracy. The young gun also connected with junior receiver Garrett Wilson for three of his five scores. Stroud and the Buckeye attack will have to stay hot this Saturday against a forceful Michigan State defense.

STEVE SPURRIER FIRST-YEAR COACHES

Andy Avalos, Boise State: Avalos' Broncos won their third straight game with a 23-13 defeat of Wyoming. Boise State's defense led the way, surrendering just 288 total yards and limiting the Cowboys to three third-down conversions on ten attempts. Hank Bachmeier put up a strong performance, finishing 23-of-32 passing for 225 yards and one touchdown. Running back George Holani added 102 yards rushing on 20 attempts.

Butch Jones, Arkansas State: Jones' Red Wolves ended an eight-game skid Saturday, edging ULM, 27-24. Arkansas State scored ten unanswered points in the fourth quarter, including a 42-yard field goal in the final minutes of the game to take the lead for good. Layne Hatcher led the way offensively, finishing 34-of-50 passing for 444 yards, with two touchdowns.

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers and key executives in all areas of college football. The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday operations while presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its programs and initiatives, contact Executive Director Steve Richardson at 214-870-6516 or tiger@fwaa.com.

2021 Freshman Focus
Weekend of Sept. 4
Weekend of Sept. 11
Weekend of Sept. 18
Weekend of Sept. 25
Weekend of Oct. 2
Weekend of Oct. 9
Weekend of Oct. 16
Weekend of Oct. 23
Weekend of Oct. 30
Weekend of Nov. 6
Weekend of Nov. 13
Weekend of Nov. 20
Weekend of Nov. 27