Freshman Focus: Week 3

Jeff Halstead / Icon Sportswire
Jeff Halstead / Icon Sportswire
John Cordes / Icon Sportswire
John Cordes / 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 3, the weekend of Sept. 17:


Jaishawn Barham, LB, Maryland (6-3, 220, District Heights, Md.): 13 tackles, 1 sack 
Barham relieved injured starting linebacker Ruben Hyppolite and helped Maryland beat SMU, 34-27. The true freshman’s 13 tackles were the second-most on the team, which limited the Mustangs to just 3.6 yards per rush.  The hometown recruit also showed the ability to rush the passer, logging the first sack of his career near the end of the first half. Barham will need to step up more this week as the Terrapins face No. 4-ranked Michigan, averaging over 231 yards per game.

Ja’Lynn Polk, WR, Washington (6-2, 199, Lufkin, Tx.): 6 receptions, 153 yards, 3 TD
Polk accounted for three of Washington’s four receiving touchdowns as it knocked off No. 11 Michigan State, 39-28. The redshirt freshman, who had just 92 yards and a score in the previous two games, exploded with a 53-yard touchdown reception that put the Huskies out of reach. Polk also impressed by climbing the ladder on a scramble-drill touchdown catch earlier in the game. The Texas Tech transfer will look to build on last week and help Washington earn its first conference win against Stanford on Saturday. 

AJ Swann, QB, Vanderbilt (6-3, 225, White, Ga.): 18-28, 255 yards, 4 TD, 3 rushes, 14 yards
Swann led the Commodores to a comeback win over Northern Illinois, 38-28, in his first career start. Vanderbilt stormed back from a 14-point deficit, scoring 24 unanswered points in the second half to snag their third win of the season. The true freshman quarterback threw three touchdowns in the third quarter, including a 21-yard toss rolling to his left after shedding two tacklers. Swann and the Commodores will need a much cleaner performance, though, with a trip to No. 2 Alabama on tap this weekend. 

Richard Reese, RB, Baylor (5-9, 175, Bellville, Texas): 19 carries, 156 yards, 3 TD, 1 reception, 17 yards
Reese, who saw more playing time following the injury of upperclassman Taye McWilliams, rebounded from a frustrating loss at BYU two weeks ago to top Texas State, 42-17. The shifty true freshman made defenders miss all day and added a 52-yard touchdown sprint to seal the win for the Bears in the third quarter. The former three-star recruit averaged 8.2 yards per rush and made a strong case to be the No. 1 back for the run-heavy Baylor offense moving forward. Reese will get another chance to prove himself when the Bears kick off their conference schedule Saturday at Iowa State. 


Kalen DeBoer, Washington: DeBoer’s Huskies had their way with then-No. 11-ranked Michigan State’s secondary in a 39-28 win. Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. completed 24 of 40 passes for 397 yards and four touchdowns. Washington also held the Spartan rushing attack to just 42 yards on 29 attempts, averaging 1.4 yards per rush. The 3-0 Huskies will look to build on the win with a 1-0 conference start this Saturday against Stanford.

Brian Kelly, LSU: Kelly earned his first SEC win by topping Mississippi State 31-16 in Death Valley. The Tigers trailed until the fourth quarter, when LSU scored 21 unanswered points on three rushing touchdowns. LSU outrushed the Bulldogs 206-75 and forced two turnovers. Kelly’s squad has one more game at home this weekend against New Mexico before heading to Auburn on October 1.

Dan Lanning, Oregon: Lanning’s Ducks have rebounded with vengeance after a frustrating beatdown in Week 1, beating Eastern Washington 70-14 and knocking off No. 12 BYU, 41-20. Bo Nix dominated the Cougar defense to the tune of 222 yards passing, 35 yards rushing, and five total touchdowns. Lanning’s defense surrendered just 61 yards on the ground and forced four turnovers on downs. Oregon will look to make a statement to the rest of the Pac-12 this weekend when it travels to Washington State.

Lincoln Riley, USC: Riley’s Trojans displayed a more balanced offense than it showed in previous weeks, dominating on the ground and through the air to beat Fresno State by a 45-17 count. Caleb Williams continued his impressive campaign, completing 25 passes for 284 yards and two touchdowns with another two rushing scores. Austin Jones and Travis Dye both posted 100-plus yard rushing games with a touchdown apiece. USC will try to earn its second road conference win this Saturday against Oregon State.

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