Finalists for Freshman Player of the Year announced

NEW ORLEANS — The Football Writers Association of America is proud to announce the three finalists for the 2019 FWAA Shaun Alexander Freshman Player of the Year Award. This award recognizes the most outstanding freshman player in the FBS ranks. Redshirt freshmen are eligible to receive the award as well.

The 2018 winner, quarterback Trevor Lawrence, set the bar high with his performance at Clemson University. Lawrence completed 65.2% of his passes for 3,280 yards while leading the Tigers to a perfect 15-0 season that culminated with a victory in the College Football Playoff National Championship. His 30 touchdown passes set a new FBS record for passing touchdowns by a true freshman.

The Freshman of the Year, along with the Freshman Breakout Performance and Most Inspirational Freshman will be announced at the annual FWAA Awards breakfast on Monday, Jan. 13 in New Orleans.

The FWAA Freshman All-American Team and Stand Together will also recognize its inaugural Freshman Legend at the awards breakfast.

Here are the 2019 finalists:

Sam Howell, University of North Carolina, Quarterback — Howell finished the 2019 season with 3,641 passing yards, 38 touchdowns, and just 7 interceptions. His 38 passing touchdowns rank fourth in the FBS this season, and he broke the previous single-season record at North Carolina set by Mitchell Trubisky in 2016 (30). He also surpassed Trevor Lawrence’s 30 passing touchdowns from last season, giving him the most passing touchdowns by a true freshman in FBS history. Howell has been named the ACC’s Offensive Rookie and overall Rookie of the Year, as he led the conference in passing yards and touchdowns.

Derek Stingley Jr., Louisiana State University, Defensive Back — Stingley led the SEC and ranks fifth nationally with six interceptions this season, including two against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. He also led the SEC and ranks second nationally in passes defended with 21. Stingley was named the 2019 SEC Newcomer of the Year by the AP. Born and raised in Baton Rouge, La., Stingley has helped his hometown team to a 14-0 record and a berth in the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Kenneth Gainwell, University of Memphis, Running Back, Redshirt — Gainwell was named the American Athletic Conference’s Rookie of the Year for his performance this season. His 1,459 rushing yards rank second among freshmen and 12th nationally. He has amassed 2,069 yards from scrimmage, which ranks first among freshmen and fourth nationally. Gainwell recorded 200+ yards from scrimmage in three consecutive games against Louisiana-Monroe (251), Temple (204), and Tulane (307). His efforts helped Memphis claim a berth in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, the first New Year’s Six bowl appearance in school history.