2023 Freshman Focus: Week 6

DALLAS (FWAA) – This is the sixth installment of the Football Writers Association of America's weekly Freshman Focus for the Steve Spurrier First-Year Coach of the Year Award, Freshman Player of the Year and the 2023 FWAA Freshman All-America Team.

The Steve Spurrier First-Year Coach Award, presented by Chris Doering Mortgage, goes to the best first-year coach (at his school) in FBS football at the conclusion of the season.

The recipient of the Steve Spurrier First-Year Coach, the FWAA Freshman of the Year and the Steve Spurrier Legends Coach will be honored at a special reception on Feb. 26 in Gainesville, Fla.


Arlis Boardingham, TE, Florida (6-3, 240, Van Nuys, Calif.): 7 receptions, 99 yards, 2 TD

Boardingham’s breakout performance led Florida in receiving as the Gators beat Vanderbilt, 38-14. The redshirt freshman dominated in the play-action game, converting two key third downs on scoring drives. Boardingham displayed elite athleticism as the majority of his receiving yards came after the catch. He will look to dominate again when the Gators visit a porous South Carolina secondary. 

Kevin Concepcion, WR, NC State (5-11, 187, Charlotte, N.C.): 8 receptions, 102 yards, 2 TD; 1 rush, 6 yards

Concepcion led NC State in receiving for the third time this season as the Wolfpack beat Marshall, 48-41. The true freshman’s speed out of the slot delivered the Wolfpack’s first and final touchdowns. Concepcion’s 347 yards and 4 touchdowns are the second-most among ACC freshmen. The Wolfpack air attack faces a staunch defense against No. 17 Duke this weekend. 

Cameron Epps, S, Oklahoma State (6-3, 208, St. Louis, Mo.): 5 tackles, 2 INT, 1 TD, 35 return yards, 2 passes defended

Epps’ pick-six provided a defensive spark for Oklahoma State in a 29-21 upset of Kansas State. The redshirt freshman’s interceptions were especially vital for a Cowboy defense that had just one pick through the first four games. Epps, who filled in for an injured starter, is expected to take over the starting role for the rest of the season. The Cowboys can notch another statement win at Kansas on Saturday.

Noah Fifita, QB, Arizona (5-11, 194, Huntington Beach, Calif.): 25/35, 303 yards, 5 TD, 1 INT; 9 rushes, 12 yards

It took No. 10 USC three overtime periods to beat Arizona 43-41, largely due to Fifita. The redshirt freshman statistically out-played Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams in his second career start. Fifita delivered continuously in the clutch with game-tying touchdown passes in the fourth quarter and overtime. The Pac-12’s newest explosive gunslinger aims to earn his first win as a starter this weekend at No. 19 Washington State. 


Jeff Brohm, Louisville: Brohm’s Cardinals sent shockwaves throughout the ACC with a 33-20 upset of then-No. 10-ranked Notre Dame. Jawhar Jordan spearheaded a fierce ground game, rushing for 143 yards and 2 touchdowns on 21 carries. Louisville also forced 5 turnovers and allowed just 3 third-down conversions in 13 attempts. The No. 14-ranked Cardinals aim to improve to 7-0 against a struggling Pitt team. 

Jamey Chadwell, Liberty: Chadwell’s Flames improved to 5-0 with a 21-16 win against Sam Houston on Thursday. Liberty’s defense quickly got off the field, allowing just four third-down conversions on 14 attempts. The Flames are leading Conference USA in total yards (490.4) and total yards allowed (313.6) at the end of Week 6. Chadwell is tasked with leading his team through an unorthodox schedule as Liberty visits Jacksonville State on Tuesday.

Trent Dilfer, UAB: Dilfer’s offense exploded for 608 total yards in a 56-35 domination of South Florida. The Blazers imposed their will in both phases of the game, rushing and passing for four touchdowns each. UAB’s 2,709 yards of total offense lead the American Athletic Conference. Dilfer and the Blazers will look to build on the offensive outburst when they face UTSA on Saturday. 

Brent Key, Georgia Tech: Key’s Yellow Jackets conjured 11th-hour magic in a last-second 23-20 upset of Miami. Georgia Tech recovered a Hurricane fumble with 26 seconds and engineered a 74-yard drive that ended on a 44-yard touchdown with a second remaining. Quarterback Haynes King scrambled to his right and floated the touchdown pass over several Miami defenders to Christian Leary. Key and the Yellow Jackets have the week off before hosting Boston College next Saturday. 

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.