Football Writers Association of America Nov. 23, 2021
For Immediate Release
Contact: Steve Richardson
214-870-6516
A weekly look at the first-year standout players and coaches
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2021 FRESHMAN FOCUS: WEEK 12

DALLAS (FWAA) Each week during the 2021 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 12, the weekend of Nov. 20:

FIRST-YEAR PLAYERS: THE FRESH FOUR

Braelon Allen, RB, Wisconsin (6-2, 240, Fond du Lac, Wis.): 22 rushes, 228 yards, 3 TD

Allen's first career 200-yard game led Wisconsin to its seventh straight win over Nebraska, 35-28. The true freshman showed off blazing speed with a 71-yard touchdown scamper in the first quarter followed by a 53-yard go-ahead score in the fourth for the Badgers' final points. Allen is averaging over 8.6 yards per carry and two touchdowns per game in November. The workhorse will try to break a stingy Minnesota defense that is allowing just 103.6 yards per game on the ground this weekend.

Lew Nichols III, RB, Central Michigan (5-10, 220, Detroit, Mich.): 32 rushes, 219 yards, 3 TD; 1 reception, 17 yards

Nichols maintained his spot atop all FBS players in rushing yards in Central Michigan's 37-17 win at Ball State. The redshirt freshman delivered the boom and the blaze, scoring two goal-line touchdowns and one 66-yard sprint. In games when Nichols gets 25 carries or more, the Chippewas are 6-0. Central Michigan will look to get another strong week out of its young star next Saturday against rival Eastern Michigan. 

C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State (6-3, 218, Empire, Calif.): 32/35, 432 yards, 6 TD

Stroud's numbers whether it be the school record-tying six touchdowns, 393 yards passing, or 93.5% completion percentage are impressive enough at face value. Consider that these totals were all reached by the end of the first half against the seventh-ranked team in the country, and they're simply unspeakable. The redshirt freshman's stunning performance in Ohio State's 56-7 thumping of Michigan State has thrust him to peak of the Heisman Trophy conversation. He will look to take another step forward in the race next Saturday on the road against bitter rival Michigan.

Wisconsin's Braelon Allen (Icon Sportswire)

Tyler Van Dyke, QB, Miami (6-4, 224, Glastonbury, Conn.): 19/33, 357 yards, 3 TD; 3 rushes, 14 yards

Van Dyke turned in his fifth-straight three-touchdown performance in Miami's 38-26 win over Virginia Tech. The redshirt freshman was excellent throwing downfield, catching Brashard Smith in stride for a 75-yard score in the second quarter and connecting with Mike Harley for a 55-yarder in the fourth to put the Hokies away. He and the Hurricanes will look to finish the regular season on another sweet note at Duke this weekend. 

STEVE SPURRIER FIRST-YEAR COACHES

Shane Beamer, South Carolina: Beamer's Gamecocks delivered their second upset in as many weeks, capsizing Auburn 21-17. South Carolina overcame an early 14-point deficit to earn its first six-win season since 2018. The Gamecock secondary was spectacular, limiting the Tigers to just 188 yards passing on 32 attempts. Jordan Brown led the way offensively, finishing 10-of-15 passing for 157 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception.

Charles Huff, Marshall: Huff's Thundering Herd could not be stopped Saturday en route to a 49-28 victory over Charlotte. Marshall generated 588 yards of total offense while limiting the 49ers to 374. Quarterback Grant Wells finished 21-of-28 for 267 yards and two touchdowns, while running back Rasheen Ali added 203 yards rushing and three scores of his own on 23 carries.

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.

2021 Freshman Focus
Weekend of Sept. 4
Weekend of Sept. 11
Weekend of Sept. 18
Weekend of Sept. 25
Weekend of Oct. 2
Weekend of Oct. 9
Weekend of Oct. 16
Weekend of Oct. 23
Weekend of Oct. 30
Weekend of Nov. 6
Weekend of Nov. 13 Weekend of Nov. 20