2023 Freshman Focus: Week 13

NC State’s Kevin Concepcion set program freshman records in receptions (64) and receiving touchdowns (10) this season.
NC State’s Kevin Concepcion set program freshman records in receptions (64) and receiving touchdowns (10) this season.

DALLAS (FWAA) – This is the 13th 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.


Kevin Concepcion, WR, NC State (5-11, 187, Charlotte, N.C.): 7 receptions, 131 yards, 2 TD; 11 rushes, 55 yards

Concepcion finished his historic freshman season with a bang, powering NC State to a 39-20 win over North Carolina. The true freshman led the Wolfpack in receiving for the eighth time this season and also led all rushers for the second time. Concepcion set program freshman records in receptions (64) and receiving touchdowns (10) this season. NC State’s speedy receiver needs just 87 yards in the Wolfpack’s bowl game to break the school’s freshman mark in receiving yards as well.

Noah Fifita, QB, Arizona (5-11, 194, Huntington Beach, Calif.): 30/41, 527 yards, 5 TD, 1 INT

Fifita’s program-record 527 passing yards, coupled with five touchdowns, helped Arizona demolish Arizona State, 59-23. The redshirt freshman exploded for a monster finish to the regular season, smashing his own career-high total in passing yards. The four-time Pac-12 Freshman of the Week scored early and often, as the Wildcats already built a 52-7 lead halfway through the third quarter. Fifita appears to be red-hot, much like his Arizona team riding a six-game win streak into bowl season.

Abu Sama III, RB, Iowa State (5-11, 200, Des Moines, Iowa): 16 rushes, 276 yards, 3 TD, 1 FUM; 1 reception, 11 yards

Sama III brought all the heat Iowa State’s run game needed to complete a snow-capped, 42-35 upset of Kansas State. The true freshman bombarded the Wildcat defense with big play power, ripping off touchdown runs of 60, 71 and 77 yards. Sama III’s 276 yards on the ground were also good for the fourth-most in program history. The Cyclones will aim to roll the momentum of their first ranked win since 2021 into bowl season.

Gavin Sawchuk, RB, Oklahoma (5-11, 195, Littleton, Colo): 22 rushes, 130 yards, 3 TD; 2 receptions, 16 yards

Sawchuk closed an explosive November in fitting fashion, as his fourth straight game with over 100 yards rushing helped Oklahoma top TCU, 69-45. The redshirt freshman scored two of his three touchdowns in a dominant second quarter where the Sooners outscored the Horned Frogs 28-3. It was the first three-touchdown performance of Sawchuk’s young career.


Jamey Chadwell, Liberty: Chadwell needed just one shot to accomplish something the Flames had not done in their 50-year history: a perfect, 12-0 regular season. Liberty achieved history with a dominant 42-28 win over UTEP. The Flames’ offense exploded immediately with a 21-point first quarter before outgaining the Miners 469-271. Chadwell can write more history with a Conference USA title win over New Mexico State in Liberty’s first season in the conference.

Luke Fickell, Wisconsin: Fickell’s Badgers bludgeoned Minnesota in a 28-14 victory. The first-year head coach ended his first regular season on a physical win and a two-game win streak, as Wisconsin rushed for 267 yards on 44 attempts. The Badgers outgained the Golden Gophers 412-286 in the win. Fickell will shoot for an eight-win first season when Wisconsin fights for its fourth-straight bowl victory.

Alex Golesh, South Florida: Golesh has South Florida bowl-bound for the first time since 2018 after a 48-14 beatdown of Charlotte. Freshman quarterback Byrum Brown exploded for 253 yards passing and five total touchdowns as the Bulls amassed 503 yards of total offense. USF’s defense also imposed its will, surrendering just one third-down conversion in 13 attempts. Golesh, known for his explosive offensive mind, will look to carry his momentum through bowl season and into year two. 

G.J. Kinne, Texas State: Kinne’s Bobcats scored early and often, using a 24-point first quarter to secure a 52-44 win over South Alabama. Quarterback TJ Finley surpassed the 3,000-yard mark for the season and tossed three touchdowns. The Bobcats had two receivers go over 100 yards in the win. Texas State hopes the resounding season finale win is enough for the program’s first bowl bid.

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.