Freshman Focus: Week 1

Mark Albert / Icon Sportswire
Mark Albert / Icon Sportswire
George Walker / Icon Sportswire
George Walker / Icon Sportswire

DALLAS (FWAA) – Each week during the 2022 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 1, the weekend of Sept. 3:


Cyrus Allen, WR, Louisiana Tech (5-11, 177, New Orleans, La.): 5 receptions, 121 yards, 2 TD
Allen provided one of the few bright spots for Bulldog fans in Louisiana Tech’s 52-24 loss at Missouri. The shifty redshirt freshman scored his team’s last two touchdowns, splitting the Tiger safeties for a 64-yard score and a Randy Moss-esque catch over a Missouri defender in the end zone a few drives later. Allen and Louisiana Tech will face a less formidable opponent this week when they welcome Stephen F. Austin to town. 

CJ Donaldson, TE, West Virginia (6-2, 240, Miami, Fla.): 7 rushes, 125 yds, 1 TD, 1 punt blocked
Donaldson, listed as a tight end, didn’t catch a single pass in his collegiate debut, but he did explode on the ground in West Virginia’s 38-31 loss at Pitt. The true freshman broke off several key runs and blocked a punt before scoring a rushing touchdown on the ensuing play. Perhaps the Mountaineers can get the utility player involved in both the pass and run game this week at home against conference foe Kansas. 

Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina (6-5, 220, Huntersville, N.C.): 24/36, 352 yards, 4 TD; 12 rushes, 76 yards, 1 TD
Any North Carolina fans’ concerns about offensive production following the departure of Sam Howell were quickly subsided by Maye. The redshirt freshman turned in his second consecutive five-touchdown game as the Tar Heels edged out Appalachian State in a 63-61 shootout win. Maye will attempt to make it three consecutive five-score games this week when UNC travels to face Georgia State, who it beat 59-17 last season.

Roman Hemby, RB, Maryland (6-0, 200, Edgewood, Md.): 7 rushes, 114 yards, 2 TD
Hemby was able to gain the edge on a pair of long touchdown runs in Maryland’s 31-10 win over Buffalo. The redshirt freshman’s instant acceleration helped him beat the Bulls defenders to the edge, where his blazing speed took him all the way to the end zone. Hemby figures to have another big weekend when the Terrapins travel to play Charlotte, an 0-2 squad.  


Mario Cristobal, Miami: Cristobal’s Hurricanes were heavy favorites and they still impressed with an offensive explosion resulting in a 70-13 win against Bethune-Cookman. Cristobal’s influence was immediate and obvious, as running back Henry Parrish Jr. finished with 14 rushes for 108 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Tyler Van Dyke picked up where he left off in 2021, completing 13 of 16 passes for 193 yards and two scores. Miami will look to climb to 2-0 with a win over Southern Miss this weekend.

Rhett Lashlee, SMU: Lashlee became the first SMU head coach to win his debut game since 1982 with a 48-10 beatdown of North Texas. The Mustangs produced 576 yards of total offense and came up with heree turnovers defensively. Senior quarterback Tanner Mordecai was 23 of 32 passing for 432 yards and four touchdowns. Lashlee’s high-powered offense will look to keep rolling this week against Lamar.

Billy Napier, Florida: Napier’s Gators made a statement in his first game in the Swamp as Florida upset No. 7 Utah in dramatic fashion, 29-26. Senior linebacker Amari Burney heroically intercepted an attempted touchdown pass with 17 seconds left to seal the victory. Quarterback Anthony Richardson completed 17 of 24 passes for 168 yards with another 106 yards rushing and three rushing touchdowns. The Gators will not have time to relax after the win, though, as division foe Kentucky comes to Gainesville this week.

Bryant Vincent, UAB: Vincent’s Blazers were heavy favorites, but their whopping 59-0 beating of Alabama A&M still destroyed the point spread. UAB limited the Bulldogs to just 98 yards rushing on 39 attempts and forced four turnovers. Jermaine Brown Jr. led the offense with 114 yards rushing and a touchdown on 10 attempts. Vincent will take his team on a business trip to face Liberty next weekend.

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