Freshman Focus: Week 9

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 9, the weekend of Oct. 29:


Quinshon Judkins, RB, Ole Miss (5-11, 210, Pike Road, Ala.): 34 rushes, 205 yards, 1 TD

Judkins became the ninth Ole Miss running back with a 1,000-yard season, became the program’s all-time freshman rushing yards leader, and scored the go-ahead touchdown in a 31-28 win over Texas A&M. The true freshman only needs two more rushing touchdowns and 276 rushing yards to break single season school records in both categories. Judkins also co-leads the country in rushing touchdowns (13). The young rstar will try to get the Rebels (8-1) a step closer to the first 11-win regular season in school history with a win over Alabama after a bye this weekend.

Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina (6-5, 220, Huntersville, N.C.): 34/44, 388 yards, 5 TD; 14 rushes, 61 yards

Maye turned in his fifth five-touchdown game of the season to lead North Carolina over Pitt by a 42-24 count. The redshirt freshman, who now co-leads the country with 29 passing touchdowns, is gaining considerable attention on the Heisman trail with four games left on the Tar Heels’ (7-1) schedule. Maye is on pace to break the ACC freshman touchdown record, a total currently held by former Tar Heel Sam Howell (39). The gunslinger will look to stay perfect in the conference with a win over Virginia on Saturday. 

Connor Weigman, QB, Texas A&M (6-2, 215, Cypress, Texas): 28/44, 338 yards, 4 TD; 3 rushes, 4 yards

Weigman’s first collegiate start was the best of any Texas A&M quarterback this season, despite a 31-28 loss to Ole Miss. The true freshman, who became the first Aggie to throw for four touchdowns since 2020, displayed pinpoint accuracy and strong pocket presence against a Rebel defense that leads the SEC in sacks. Weigman’s 338 yards passing were also the most by a true freshman in school history. He will look to spark the Aggies (3-5) on offense when they face Florida this weekend.  

Pryce Yates, DL, UConn (6-4, 267, San Antonio, Texas): 7 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 4 TFL, 1 FF, 1 QB hurries

Yates exploded onto the scene for a Husky defense that forced five turnovers to upset Boston College 13-3. The redshirt freshman, who had just 0.5 sacks through eight games, also posted a career-high seven tackles in the win. Yates led a UConn (4-5) pass rush that logged five sacks for the first time since 2013. Just two wins away from the program’s first bowl game since 2015, Yates and the Huskies will try to keep rolling against Massachusetts on Friday. 


Marcus Freeman, Notre Dame: Freeman’s Fighting Irish knocked off then- No. 16-ranked Syracuse in dominant fashion, 41-24. Running back Audric Estime owned the day, rushing for 123 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. Notre Dame (5-3) set the tone from the game’s first snap, when Northwestern transfer Brandon Joseph tallied a pick-six. The Fighting Irish will try to notch their sixth win in their last seven games against a unbeaten Clemson team on Saturday.

Rhett Lashlee, SMU: SMU notched a statement 45-34 win over Tulsa. Senior receiver Rashee Rice hauled in nine passes for 180 yards and two scores while Tyler Lavine added three more touchdowns and 72 yards on the ground. Lashlee’s Mustangs (4-4) jumped to a fast start out of the blocks, taking a 24-7 lead into halftime. SMU will try to jumpstart a win streak this weekend when in-state foe Houston comes to town.

Mike MacIntyre, FIU: MacIntyre’s Panthers got their first home win since week one with a 42-34 double-overtime upset of Louisiana Tech. Lexington Joseph scored two rushing touchdowns in the overtime periods and the Florida International (4-4) defense forced a turnover on downs to seal the win. It was quarterback Grayson James who sparked the offense through the first four quarters, though, completing 31 passes for 321 yards and three touchdowns. FIU will look to snag its third straight win at North Texas on Saturday. 

Brent Venables, Oklahoma: Venables and the Sooners turned in a dominant showing, topping Iowa State 27-13. Oklahoma (5-3) intercepted three passes and allowed seven third down conversions in 20 attempts. Dillon Gabriel completed 15 passes for 148 yards and a score and Eric Gray added 101 yards rushing and a TD of his own. Tied for third place in the Big 12, Oklahoma will try to climb the conference ladder when it plays host to Baylor this 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