Freshman Focus: Week 7

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 7, the weekend of Oct. 15:


Kevorian Barnes, RB, UTSA (5-9, 215, San Augustine, Texas): 20 rushes, 128 yards, 2 TD; 1 reception, 13 yards

Barnes, who had just 20 career rushing yards entering Friday’s game, exploded to help life UTSA over FIU by a 30-10 count. The redshirt freshman bowled through defenders all night, punching in the Roadrunners’ (5-2) last two touchdowns to ice the game. Barnes bore most of the workload for starting running backs Brenden Brady and Trelon Smith, who were both dealing with injuries. UTSA will take a four-game win streak into its home matchup against North Texas on Saturday.

Gabe Jacas, LB, Illinois (6-3, 265, Port St. Lucie, Fla.): 6 tackles, 1 sack

Jacas led Illinois in tackles for the second time this season in a 26-14 win against Minnesota. The true freshman has been a strong contributor off the edge all season, evidenced by his team-leading four sacks. Jacas and the Fighting Illini (6-1) front held Minnesota’s formidable run game to just 142 yards with only two third down conversions in seven attempts. Sitting atop the Big Ten West, No. 18-ranked Illinois will use its bye week to prepare for Nebraska the following weekend.

Quinshon Judkins, RB, Ole Miss (5-11, 210, Pike Road, Ala.): 25 rushes, 139 yards, 2 TD; 1 reception, 7 yards, 1 TD

Judkins’ hat trick of touchdowns helped the No. 7-ranked Rebels pummel Auburn in a 48-34 victory. The true freshman put an exclamation point on the win with a 41-yard touchdown run for Ole Miss’ (7-0) final points. Between Judkins and talented junior Zach Evans, the Rebel running backs combined for five touchdowns against the Tigers. Ole Miss will look to remain the only undefeated SEC West team with wins at LSU and Texas A&M before playing host to No. 6 Alabama in Oxford on Nov. 12.

Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina (6-5, 220, Huntersville, N.C.): 28/38, 380 yards, 3 TD; 18 rushes, 70 yards

The four-time ACC Rookie of the Week made a strong case for his fifth honor as he led North Carolina to a 38-35 shootout win over Duke. The redshirt freshman, who led his team in rushing and passing, delivered an incredible rolling touchdown pass for the go-ahead score with 16 seconds on the clock. Maye leads the ACC and all FBS freshmen with 2,283 passing yards and shares the national lead with 24 touchdowns. Maye will have an idle week before he tries to lead the No. 22-ranked Tar Heels (6-1) to their fourth conference win against Pitt..


Sonny Dykes, TCU: An overtime thriller, top-10 upset, and third consecutive win over a ranked opponent, TCU’s 43-40 defeat of then-No. 8 Oklahoma State was swimming in headlines. The Horned Frogs (6-0) overcame a 27-13 third quarter deficit to hand the Cowboys their first loss of the season. Quarterback Max Duggan impressed again, completing 23 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns with another 57 yards and a score on the ground. The gauntlet is not over yet, though, as Dykes' team will next battle No. 17 Kansas State for the top spot in the Big 12.

Clay Helton, Georgia Southern: Helton’s Eagles rebounded from consecutive losses to knock off then-No. 25 James Madison, 45-38. Georgia Southern (4-3) climbed out from under an early 14-0 deficit and handed the Dukes their first loss of the season. Kyle Vantrease, who leads the Sun Belt in passing yards (2,511), threw for 578 yards and four touchdowns. The Eagle defense, which forced four turnovers, will be challenged again next week at Old Dominion.

Brian Kelly, LSU: LSU’s offense exploded and earned its fourth consecutive win against Florida by a 45-35 count. Jayden Daniels was excellent, throwing for 349 yards and three touchdowns with an additional three scores and 44 yards on the ground. Kayshon Boutte returned to his dominance, catching six passes for 155 yards. The Tigers (5-2), who currently share second place in the SEC West with Alabama, will try to take a share of first against No. 7 Ole Miss on Saturday.

Brent Venables, Oklahoma: Venables’ Sooners snapped a three-game skid and knocked off No. 19 Kansas, 52-42. Oklahoma (4-3) running backs Eric Gray and Jovantae Barnes combined for 245 yards rushing and four touchdowns while Dillon Gabriel completed 29 passes for 403 yards and two scores of his own. The Sooner offense generated 701 yards of offense and converted 16 of its 21 third-down conversions. The Sooners will have an idle week to prepare for a date with the Big 12’s top defense, Iowa State.

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