Shaun Alexander/FWAA Freshman of the Year Award calls for big things on, and off, the field Reply

By Mike Griffith

AJC-Dawg Nation

CLEMSON, S.C. — Dabo Swinney was having flashbacks during the Clemson spring football game on Saturday with former Alabama and Seattle Seahawks star Shaun Alexander in attendance.

The 2005 NFL MVP was at the Tigers’ spring game to hand off the inaugural Shaun Alexander/FWAA Freshman of the Year Award to Trevor Lawrence. The trophy is presented by Stand Together, a non-profit organization.

Swinney had some fun at Alexander’s expense when his dynamic tailback, Travis Etienne, bounced a run outside to the head coach’s displeasure.

“You don’t have to hit home runs Shaun!” Swinney yelled in Etienne’s direction with Alexander standing beside him. “Sometimes you have to hit singles!”

Former Alabama and NFL running back Shaun Alexander is greeted by Clemson coach Dabo Swinney at the school’s 2019 spring game. Alexander was there to formally present the first Shaun Alexander/FWAA Freshman of the Year Trophy to Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Photo by Shane Sandefur.

Former Alabama and NFL running back Shaun Alexander is greeted by Clemson coach Dabo Swinney at the school’s 2019 spring game. Alexander was there to formally present the first Shaun Alexander/FWAA Freshman of the Year Trophy to Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Photo by Mike Griffith.

Alexander broke into a grin, knowing the phrase all too well having heard it several times early in his career at Alabama.

Swinney’s coaching career was just lifting off as a graduate assistant under the direction of College Football Hall of Famer Gene Stallings when Alexander signed with the Tide out of Boone County High School in Florence, Ky., and redshirted the 1995 season.

The 1996 season was big for Alexander and Swinney, a coming out party of sorts for both. Swinney was promoted to receivers coach under the direction of then-Tide offensive coordinator Woody McCorvey, who is now Clemson’s associate athletic director for football administration.

Alexander, meanwhile, was competing for playing time in a crowded backfield when he sent shockwaves across the country on Nov. 9, 1996.

Coming off the bench in the second quarter, Alexander took 20 handoffs from then-Alabama QB and now-Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens and gained a school-record 291 yards against LSU, scoring four touchdowns in a 26-0 win over the Bayou Bengals.

Gerry DiNardo, the LSU coach at the time, since turned Big Ten Network lead analyst, remembers recognizing Alexander’s greatness when he watch No. 37 slice through a defense that anchored a 10-2 team.

“I can still remember a play starting toward our bench and then him cutting back, and I remember thinking as I watched that this is a special back,” DiNardo said. “He hadn’t started any games, and we didn’t know much about him.

“Anytime you see a great athlete move forward and contribute to our society, it’s a great story, so what started out for me as a bad memory has turned into a very good thing.”

McCorvey knew he had a pretty good thing in Alexander, but not even he could have anticipated that sort of performance.

“For him to do what he did down in the other Death Valley at LSU in Baton Rouge, 291 yards rushing, that was unbelievable,” said McCorvey, who after seeing Alexander score on his only carry of the first half called Alexander’s number 19 more times in the second half.

“That was just the start of it for Shaun, he was able to finish of a tremendous college career and went on to have a stellar NFL career.”

As much as Alexander excelled on the field, he was an exemplary student-athlete off of it, serving as an Alabama chapter Fellowship of Christian Athletes president in 1999, the same year he was named SEC Player of the Year.

Those good works continued off the field, as Alexander started a family foundation in Seattle to mentor young men before his nine-year NFL career and retirement to the Washington, D.C., area with his wife and nine children.

“Shaun was a great representative of Alabama football, the way he carried himself off the field, and of course what an incredible back he was,” said ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit, who launched his career on ESPN GameDay in 1996. “I love that the FWAA has come up with an award recognizing a freshman of the year, and how fitting to be able to have a guy like Trevor Lawrence win it in the first year.

“Shaun and Trevor are two great people, two great athletes, and I think we’ll look back at this with Trevor winning a trophy that’s fitting of him and everything he and Shaun represent.”

In addition to the Alexander Trophy, the FWAA Freshman of the Year will receive a gold coin with the following traits displayed on the coin: “Ambassador, Legend, Faith, Passion, Talent, Focus, Character, Leader.”

McCorvey, who mentored Swinney as a receiver and assistant coach and now helps oversee Clemson football, has used many of those same words during his distinguished coaching career.

Former Alabama and NFL running back Shaun Alexander presents the inaugural Shaun Alexander/FWAA Freshman of the Year Trophy to Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The formal presentation occurred at Cloemson’s 2019 spring game. Photo by Shane Sandefur.

“Both Shaun and Trevor exemplify class,” McCorvey said. “When I was a part of Shaun’s career at Alabama, his work ethic and everything he put into being a student-athlete was exemplary.

“It’s the same thing with Trevor since he has been here. He’s been all business, he’s carried himself in the right way, and when he got his opportunity last year he handled it well. For him to win this award and win the national championship, that’s what it’s all about.”

Swinney, his arm around Alexander much of the day, agreed.

“Here’s the cool thing, I was there when you were a freshman, and I am here to see you present this award to this great freshman, Trevor,” Swinney told Alexander. “It’s fitting that he’s the first one, you were an amazing freshman; obviously he was too.

“But the great thing is both of you are great people, both of you have strong faiths. I’m honored Trevor won it and you are here to present it.”
Lawrence, born on Oct. 6, 1999, four days after Alexander scored four touchdowns and tallied 200 total yards in a 40-39 road win over a No. 3-ranked Florida team, was humbled to win the award.

“It’s awesome, obviously Shaun was a great player, so to win his award is an honor,” Lawrence said. “I try to lead by example; you can’t ask anyone to do anything that you’re not willing to do.

“My faith plays a big part in leading people, too, and that’s also leading by example. That’s doing the right thing, not just with the team and in workouts, but off the field, too.”

Alexander, his Alabama rooting interests aside, made it clear he’ll be pulling for Lawrence to continue his greatness on and off the field.

“I wanted someone to win this award whose character and faith and talent matched, and Trevor was that guy,” said Alexander, who chose Lawrence for the award before the Clemson phenom completed 20-of-32 passes for 347 yards and three touchdowns in the Tigers’ 44-16 CFP Championship Game win over the Tide.

“I, along with Stand Together and the Football Writers Association of America, will be looking for big things from you in the future on and off the field.”

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Photo gallery: Freshman of the Year Award presented to Trevor Lawrence at Clemson spring game Reply

Former Alabama and NFL running back Shaun Alexander formally presented the inaugural Shaun Alexander/FWAA Freshman of the Year Trophy to Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence during Clemson’s spring game on April 6.

UCLA’S Jerry Robinson named 2019 Bronko Nagurski Legends Award recipient

College Hall-of-Famer joins growing list of honored college football legends

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte Touchdown Club in conjunction with the Football Writers Association of America proudly announces UCLA great Jerry Robinson as the recipient of the 2019 Bronko Nagurski Legends Award presented by Rolle Oral & Facial Surgery, which recognizes outstanding defensive football players from the past 40 years.  The award will be presented formally during the annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Awards Banquet on December 9, 2019.

Jerry Robinson

“Wow!  Just when you think that people have forgotten about those great players from back in the day, I received a phone call from Steve Richardson of the Football Writers Association of America congratulating me on being named the 2019 Bronko Nagurski Legends Award recipient. I was stunned and truly honored to receive this award because I know that Bronko Nagurski was one of the greatest football players ever and the annual award presented in his name goes to the best defensive player in college football,” said Jerry Robinson.

“Because of his many achievements on and off the gridiron, Jerry Robinson is an ideal choice for this year’s Bronko Nagurski Legends Award,” commented Dr. Richard R. Rolle, Jr. of Rolle Oral & Facial Surgery. “Having played college football at the University of Notre Dame under legendary coach Lou Holtz, I understand on a very personal level, the focus, commitment, and hard work it takes to be remembered as one of the game’s all-time greats. Congratulations from the entire staff of Rolle Oral & Facial Surgery to Jerry Robinson on this well-deserved honor.”

Robinson joins a growing list of prestigious Bronko Nagurski Legends Award recipients including: Alan Page, Bubba Smith, Ted Hendricks, Roger Wehrli, Mike McCoy, Jack Youngblood, Larry Jacobson, Randy Rhino, Randy White, Randy Gradishar, Chet Moeller, Ross Browner, and Tom Cousineau.

Jerry Robinson was a star athlete at Cardinal Newman High School in Santa Rosa, California. He captained the football, basketball and track teams. He ran the 100-yard dash in 9.5 seconds and high jumped 6 feet 5 inches. UCLA used him as a wide receiver his freshman year and moved him to inside linebacker just before the Rose Bowl game with Ohio State. As a linebacker Robinson made All-American three times. He was a Consensus choice in 1976, Unanimous in 1977 and 1978. Robinson set a school record for most tackles (28) in a single game against Air Force in 1976. His career total 468 tackles, set a UCLA record. The Downtown Athletic Club of New York named him Linebacker of the Year (Now named the Dick Butkus Award) in 1977 and 1978.) He received the Pop Warner Award as Best West Coast player in 1978. Robinson stood 6-3, weighed 208, and wore jersey No. 84, which UCLA retired. His name and number is displayed in the Ring of Honor at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Robinson was named to the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame, as well as the College Football Hall of Fame. Jerry was also one of only 50 players to be named to The All Century Pac 12 Team.

Robinson was selected in the first round of the 1979 NFL draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He played a total of 13 years in the NFL, six with the Philadelphia Eagles and seven with the Los Angeles Raiders. Robinson’s NFL awards and achievements include: NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year. Participant in Super Bow XV (Philadelphia Eagles vs Oakland Raiders). 1987 Ed Block Courage Award. Four time All-Pro Selection and participant in one Pro-Bowl.

Currently Jerry Robinson is Vice President, Board of Directors for a nonprofit organization called Shoes4kidz and produces a podcast “People Doing Good” which highlights people doing good things in their neighborhoods.

About The Independence Fund
The Independence Fund is a nonprofit organization that empowers our nation’s severely wounded veterans and the caregivers who support them to take control of their lives.  Through its dedicated mobility and treatment programs, the Fund assists veterans in transforming their lives toward a better future  The Independence Fund believes we owe it to our veterans to provide the resources they need to move forward and build a strong foundation toward lasting emotional and physical healing in order to reestablish their independence.  To learn more, visit www.independencefund.org.

About Rolle Oral & Facial Surgery
Dr Richard R. Rolle Jr. is a leading oral & maxillofacial surgeon, with strong ties to athletics and delivering excellence www.rolleoralfacialsurgery.com.  Rolle Oral & Facial Surgery offers expertise in: dental implants, wisdom tooth extraction, youth-capturing, cosmetic injectables, oral surgery and cleft lip reconstruction in his Lake Norman, North Carolina practice.  Dr. Rolle holds a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame where he played varsity football under legendary Coach Lou Holtz.  He completed his oral surgery internship at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital and holds a Doctor of Dental Surgery from Meharry Medical College.  Rolle Oral & Facial Surgery is the official surgeon for the Charlotte Hornets, Charlotte Checkers and Charlotte 49ers.

The Charlotte Touchdown Club is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 1990 for the purpose of promoting high school, collegiate, and professional football in the Charlotte, North Carolina region.  Since its inception, the club has grown as well as diversified boasting a sponsor team of more than (80) companies.  The Club’s activities and services focus community attention on the outstanding Citizenship, Scholarship, Sportsmanship, and Leadership of area athletes and coaches.  Through individual and corporate support, more than $2,000,000 has been raised to benefit the Touchdown Club’s scholarship efforts.

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of the men and women across North America who cover college football for a living.  The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game day operations, major awards and an All-America team.  Through its website, the FWAA works to improve communication among all those who work within the game. The FWAA also sponsors scholarships for aspiring writers and an annual writing contest.  Behind the leadership of President David Jones and Executive Director Steve Richardson and a board of veteran journalists, the FWAA continues grow and work to help college football prosper at all levels. There are now over 1,000 members.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which was founded in 1997 as a coalition of the major collegiate football awards to protect, preserve and enhance the integrity, influence and prestige of the game’s predominant awards.  The NCFAA encourages professionalism and the highest standards for the administration of its member awards and the selection of their candidates and recipients.  For more information, visit the association’s official website, www.NCFAA.org.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is presented annually by the Charlotte Touchdown Club and the Football Writers Association of America to the nation’s most outstanding NCAA defensive football player at the Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet in Charlotte, N.C.  All proceeds benefit the Charlotte Touchdown Club Scholarship Fund.  For more information call 704-347-2918 or www.touchdownclub.com.

 

Ryan Day named keynote speaker for 2019 Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet

Charlotte, N.C. — The Charlotte Touchdown Club in conjunction with the Football Writers Association of America, officially announced today that Ohio State coach Ryan Day will be the keynote speaker for the 2019 Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet scheduled for Monday, December 9.

“I am grateful and appreciative the Charlotte Touchdown Club has selected me for the honor of speaking at the 25th Anniversary Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet Monday, December 9th in Charlotte, North Carolina,” Day said. “It will be really special to assist an organization that does so much good in the community for student-athletes, and also honors the top defensive player in America through its partnership with the Football Writers Association of America.”

Ohio State coach Ryan Day

“We’re excited to welcome Coach Ryan Day as the keynote speaker for this year’s Bronko Nagurski Banquet,” said John Rocco, executive director of the Charlotte Touchdown Club. “From playing quarterback at the University of New Hampshire under Chip Kelly to the head football coach at The Ohio State University, Coach Day’s career has been nothing short of remarkable and we all look forward to hearing more about his journey.”

Sometime around 6:30 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on January 1, 2019, Ryan Day had a whistle placed around his neck by retiring head coach Urban Meyer in front of the team after its 28-23 Rose Bowl Game victory over Washington. The head coaching tenure of Day at The Ohio State University had officially begun.

Technically, Day’s first day on the job was Jan. 2, but that moment in the locker room at the Rose Bowl in front of 124 players, including more than 100 who will be a part of his first team, will have the lasting impact of origination for the 39-year-old from Manchester, N.H., who becomes just the 25th coach for a storied program that ranks second all-time in victories and will play its 130th season of football in 2019.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Day said later on in the locker room. “To be the leader of such a special place, a special group of men, this program, Buckeye Nation … it is an honor!”

Day officially starts his head coaching career with a record of 3-0. He is credited with the wins earned over Oregon State, Rutgers and 15th-ranked TCU at the beginning of the 2018 season when he served about eight weeks in August and September as Ohio State’s acting head coach. He has a five-year contract through the 2023 season that will pay him $4.5 million annually.

A quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco 49ers in 2016 under Chip Kelly and in 2015 for the Philadelphia Eagles under Kelly, Day is in his third season overall at Ohio State and his 18th season as a coach in the NFL or collegiate ranks. He was Ohio State’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach the past two seasons.

The impact he has had on the program in such a short time has been considerable.  No school has had more passing touchdowns the past two seasons than the 90 that Ohio State’s quarterbacks have thrown in that time. Ohio State also ranks seventh nationally over the past two seasons in passing yards per game and third in completion percentage.

Ohio State, in Day’s two seasons, has won six championships: back-to-back Big Ten championships; two Big Ten East Division titles; the 2018 Cotton Bowl and this year’s Rose Bowl.

In 2018 Ohio State ranked second nationally in total offense and passing yards, and No. 8 in scoring. It established Big Ten Conference records for offensive yards per game (535.6), passing yards (5,100), passing yards per game (373.0), touchdown passes (51), completions (396) and total plays (1,131).

Individually, quarterback Dwayne Haskins was a Heisman Trophy finalist who became just the sixth player to throw 50 touchdown passes in a season. He was named the Chicago Tribune Silver Football award winner as the Big Ten’s best player and he was also named the Big Ten’s offensive player of the year and its quarterback of the year.

Wide receiver Parris Campbell this year became just the fifth Ohio State receiver to top 1,000 receiving yards in a season, and running back J.K. Dobbins became the first Buckeye to top 1,000 yards rushing as a freshman and sophomore.

Additionally, in 10 of 14 games this year, Ohio State had 500 yards or more of total offense, including 567 against the nation’s top-ranked defense in a 62-39 win against No. 4 Michigan.

Day was Ohio State’s 2018 nominee for the Broyles Award, which goes annually to the top assistant coach in the country.

The 2017 season was Day’s first in Columbus and it also proved to be a success. His starting quarterback, J.T. Barrett, was a finalist for the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback of the Year Award and he was named the Big Ten’s quarterback of the year after a season in which he set seven school single season records and broke the Big Ten Conference career mark for touchdowns responsible for with 147.

Additionally, Ohio State’s offense was fifth nationally in passing efficiency in 2017, sixth in scoring and eighth in total offense, plus it led the Big Ten in rushing, passing efficiency, scoring and total offense.

On the same day that legendary coach Urban Meyer announced his retirement — Dec. 4, 2018 — Day was named to succeed him.

“I am truly honored to be here today and am so appreciative to President Drake and Gene Smith for the faith they have in me to lead this team,” Day said at a packed press conference at the Fawcett Center on Ohio State’s campus. “I love this program and its student-athletes and I want Buckeye Nation to know how hard we are going to work to ensure this program remains the very best in the country.

“I also want to say ‘thank you’ to coach Meyer. His coaching wisdom and his elite ability to motivate and prepare a team is something everyone on this staff not only appreciates, but learns from and carries forward. I am grateful for the two seasons I’ve had as a part of his staff.”

As an NFL quarterbacks coach, Day worked with Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert in 2016 with the 49ers and he helped Sam Bradford to a record-setting 2015 season with the Eagles as he completed 65 percent of his passes – an Eagles single-season record – and threw for 3,725 yards. Both figures were career highs at the time for Bradford.

In addition to his two NFL seasons as a quarterbacks coach, Day has 15 years of collegiate coaching experience, including offensive coordinator positions at Temple and Boston College, as well as positions with Florida — as a graduate assistant under Meyer – and at his alma mater, New Hampshire.

He coached receivers for a year under Al Golden at Temple University (2006) and for five seasons at Boston College (2007-11). Day worked three years as Steve Addazio’s offensive coordinator: in 2012 he ran the offense and coached receivers at Temple and in 2013 and 2014 he was quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at Boston College.

In 2014, Day’s Boston College offense ranked second in the ACC and 21st nationally with 254.4 rushing yards per game, and in 2013 Eagle running back Andre Williams rushed for more than 2,000 yards on his way to unanimous All-America honors while being named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

Day’s Boston College assistant coach experiences — he has coached there on three separate occasions — include the 2007 season when quarterback Matt Ryan threw for over 4,500 prior to becoming the third overall pick in the 2008 draft.

Day is a native of Manchester, NH. He was a three-year starting quarterback at New Hampshire when Chip Kelly was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He was a team captain as a senior and earned his degree in business administration in 2002. He has a master’s in administrative studies from Boston College (2004).

Day, and his wife, Christina, who uses the nickname “Nina,” have three children: Ryan Jr. or “RJ”, Grace and Ourania.

About The Independence Fund

The Independence Fund is a nonprofit organization that empowers our nation’s severely wounded veterans and the caregivers who support them to take control of their lives.  Through its dedicated mobility and treatment programs, the Fund assists veterans in transforming their lives toward a
better future.  The Independence Fund believes we owe it to our veterans to provide the resources they need to move forward and build a strong foundation toward lasting emotional and physical healing in order to reestablish their independence.  To learn more, visit  www.independencefund.org.

About Rolle Oral & Facial Surgery

Dr. Richard R. Rolle Jr. is a leading oral & maxillofacial surgeon, with strong ties to athletics and expertise in dental implants, wisdom tooth extraction, youth-capturing, cosmetic injectables, oral surgery and
cleft lip reconstruction in his Lake Norman, North Carolina practice.  Dr. Rolle holds a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame where he played varsity football under legendary Coach Lou Holtz.  He completed his oral surgery internship at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital and holds a Doctor of Dental Surgery from Meharry Medical College.  Rolle Oral & Facial Surgery is the official surgeon for the Charlotte Hornets, Charlotte Checkers and Charlotte 49ers.

About the Charlotte Touchdown Club

The Charlotte Touchdown Club is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 1990 for the purpose of promoting high school, collegiate, and professional football in the Charlotte, North Carolina region.  Since its inception, the club has grown as well as diversified boasting a sponsor team of more than (80) companies.  The Club’s activities and services focus community attention on the outstanding Citizenship, Scholarship, Sportsmanship, and Leadership of area athletes and coaches.  Through individual and corporate support, more than $2,000,000 has been raised to benefit the Touchdown
Club’s scholarship efforts.

About the FWAA

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of the men and women across North America who cover college football for a living.  The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game day operations, major awards and an All-America team.  Through its website, the FWAA works to improve communication among all those who work
within the game. The FWAA also sponsors scholarships for aspiring writers and an annual writing contest.  There are now over 1,000 members.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which was founded in 1997 as a coalition of the major collegiate football awards to protect, preserve and enhance the integrity, influence and prestige of the game’s predominant awards.  The NCFAA encourages professionalism and the highest standards for the administration of its member awards and the selection of their candidates and recipients.  For more information, visit the association’s official website, www.NCFAA.org.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is presented annually by the Charlotte Touchdown Club and the Football Writers Association of America to the nation’s most outstanding NCAA defensive football player at the Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet in Charlotte, N.C.  All proceeds benefit the Charlotte Touchdown Club Scholarship Fund.  For more information call 704-347-2918 or www.touchdownclub.com.

Photo gallery: Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year reception for UAB’s Bill Clark

Photos from the reception for Alabama-Birmingham Coach Bill Clark, winner of the 2018 FWAA Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award. The reception was on Jan. 5, 2019, at the San Jose Marriott.

Former Alabama, NFL RB Shaun Alexander is namesake of the FWAA’s Freshman of the Year Award

Shaun Alexander, namesake of the FWAA’s Freshman of the Year Award, and the award’s first winner, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

Editor’s Note: Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence was named the first annual FWAA Shaun Alexander Freshman of the Year at the FWAA’S Annual Award Breakfast on Jan. 7 at the San Jose Marriott in conjunction with the CFP National Championship Game.

By Ron Higgins

When Shaun Alexander became the namesake of the FWAA’s Freshman of the Year Award several months ago, the Alabama and NFL star was honored.

But he also felt like it was something bigger than just an award. He believed the honor and its influence would touch many great athletes and families as they all traveled their sports and life journeys.

His involvement with the players could become an immense help to others and would be a natural fit for him, just like the day in the fourth grade he decided to become a running back after returning two kickoffs (and nearly a third) for touchdowns.

“Until that day, I was happy playing defense because I wanted to be a defensive playmaker like Deion Sanders,” Alexander recalled. “But because of all the attention after the game I got from friends and family, I asked my brother Durran what position scored the most touchdowns. When he told me `running back,’ then that’s

what I was from that day on.”

Durran, who later became a drummer in the famed Notre Dame marching band, probably thought he was just answering a question for his younger brother. But it turned out to be solid career guidance for Shaun, who became the all-time leading rusher in the history of Boone County (Ky.) High School, Alabama and the Seattle Seahawks.

“I’ve had great people around me all my life,” said Alexander, a successful 41-year-old entrepreneur, public speaker, and advisor to leaders in business, ministries, and philanthropy for the last 10 years since a barrage of injuries led to his quiet retirement from the NFL after one final season with the Washington Redskins. “It started with my family, some wonderful people at the University of Alabama and my Seattle mentors running backs coach Stump Mitchell, along with teammates Ricky Watters, Mack Strong, and Cortez Kennedy. I’ve been extremely blessed.”

Which is exactly why Alexander is thrilled to announce the FWAA’s first Shaun Alexander Freshman of the Year in San Jose.

The winner receives a gold coin with the traits associated with the award displayed on one side: “Talent, Character, Ambassador, Legend, Faith, Passion, Focus, Leader.” On the other side of the coin, the phrases “Carry the Coin” and “Finish the Game”; are inscribed.

“If this award is named after me, how can I add who I am to it?” Alexander said when he was pondering how to make the honor significant.

Alexander answered his question by looking in the mirror.

The winners each year will have Alexander as a resource for advice and guidance for the rest of their careers and lives.

Alexander’s career is well documented. But almost every player on the 2018 FWAA Freshman All-American team was still in diapers when he permanently jumped into the national sports spotlight his freshman year at Alabama in 1996.

For about 10 seasons – two at Alabama and eight in the NFL with the Seahawks – there were few running backs on the planet better than No. 37.

No player in SEC history still has scored more rushing touchdowns in his junior and senior seasons combined – 32 – than Alexander did in 1998 and 1999.

Alexander’s 28 TDs (27 rushing, one receiving in 2005) still ranks at the second best in NFL history and he’s tied with Priest Holmes (Kansas City, 2003) for the second most rushing TDs (27) in an NFL season.

Alexander is the first and only Alabama running back ever to win the NFL rushing title (1,880 yards) in 2005.

He was the first running back in NFL to score 15 or more TDs in five consecutive seasons.

He was the first NFL running back to score 19 TDs (rushing and receiving) in only

10 games (2005).

He, Jim Brown and Jerry Rice are the only players in history to score five or more touchdowns in a game in college and in the NFL, and Alexander is believed to be the only player to score five TDs in a game in high school, college, and in the NFL (all TDs in the first half of a 2002 Sunday night game vs. Minnesota).

He was first Seahawks player ever to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

He holds 20 Seahawks records (all-time leading rusher 9,429 yards), 14 Alabama records (all-time rushing leader 3,565 yards and most yards in a game with 291 as

a freshman vs. LSU) and two Kentucky high school records.

Alexander is in a select group of nine running backs to win the rushing title the same season they were named the AP’s NFL Most Valuable Player and AP Offensive Player of the Year. The others are Pro Football Hall of Famers O.J. Simpson (1973), Walter Payton (1977), Earl Campbell (1978-79), Marcus Allen (1985), Barry Sanders (1997), Terrell Davis (1998) and LaDainian Tomlinson (2006) as well as Adrian Peterson (2012).

Alexander is the one of four former SEC running backs Jim Taylor (LSU/Green Bay), Emmitt Smith (Florida/Dallas) and Terrell Davis (Georgia/Denver) to be named the AP’s NFL Most Valuable Player. He’s also just one of two Alabama players (QB Bart Starr, Green Bay 1966) to win an AP NFL MVP honor.

Through all the success, Alexander kept his perspective, his sanity and his faith.

“When you finally become ‘the guy’ it happens so fast and is so big it can overwhelm everyone involved,” Alexander said. “My goals were to enjoy the moment, be thankful, still love the game, and get out of it still alive in life.

“It starts with faith and discipline and it all runs together. Faith is the substance of things that you hope for and the conviction of things that you don’t see. I could only put my true, faith and trust in things that were bigger than life, which is Jesus.”

Because of his strong religious faith that started with a solid foundation provided by his mother, Alexander has always had a servant’s heart. He established a foundation a month after his final college game, the 2000 Orange Bowl.

His biggest post-career mission, besides home-schooling and raising his nine children along with his wife Valerie, is providing career and life advice to others, including a special place in his heart for athletes taking same roads he once traveled.

It’s a major reason why Alexander is honored and eager to be the namesake of the FWAA’s Freshman of the Year.

“When you have been taught well, you don’t mind teaching,” Alexander said. “When somebody puts their arms around you, you don’t mind putting your arms around others. You use what you have been given.”

Alexander understands being a freshman in today’s college football is different than when he played.

“Kids now are positioning themselves for high school like it’s college, trying to find the high school that best benefits their careers,” Alexander said. “They understand at an early age the sacrifice it takes to be great.

“They lift and train and do drills with purpose and intensity. They study playbooks and schemes and break down film. They are more athletic. They have to deal with more criticism, especially from social media.”

The fact more and more incoming college signees are playing and starting as freshmen just speeds their thought process towards an NFL career after three years of college.

“Because college football is so big with all the lights and constant media attention, kids are sometimes deceived that more players are going to make it to the pros,” Alexander said. “That number is still small.

“And for the guys who do make it to the league, statistics show almost 80 percent of them are broke and/or depressed just two years after the end of their careers. They wrestle with their identity. They don’t understand football is just something they do, but it’s not who they are.”

It’s an area of life that Alexander is eager to help winners of his freshman award navigate.

“Freshmen are so young, they’re still teenagers,” Alexander said. “I got some help when I was young, but I would have loved to have had a little more insight on the field, off the field, how to handle fame, family, friendships, finances, and how to make plans for the future.

“I, my team of advisors from Legends Access, Living Well Family Office, and Soma along with my family, will walk the winners of my award through finding the answers to big questions, which are `Who am I really?’, `What is success?’ and `What are some good next steps to take?’

“Those answers are a little bit different for everybody on the planet. That’s the uniqueness of man.”

And of the FWAA’s Shaun Alexander Freshman of the Year Award.

 

Nebraska QB Adrian Martinez wins FWAA’s first Shaun Alexander Inspirational Freshman of the Year Award

By Ron Higgins

They don’t make people much tougher than Nebraska true freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez.

When he was 10, Martinez’s mother Deanna died from cancer.

Adrian Martinez

“It forced me to grow up a little sooner, just to realize how real the world can really get sometimes,” Martinez told the Big Ten Network earlier this season. “I had to get back up and fight.”

When he sat out last season as a senior at Fresno (Ca.) Clovis West High recovering a torn labrum he sustained late during his junior football season, he served as player-coach tutoring the younger quarterbacks.

“As good of an athlete as he is, he’s an even better person,” Clovis West coach George Petrissans said of Martinez.

When Martinez exited this year’s Nebraska’s season opener against Colorado after suffering a knee injury while posting 304 yards total offense and three TDs in his college debut, Cornhusker Nation gulped.

Martinez didn’t blink. Two weeks later, he was back in the lineup, and on his way to completing a season that ranks as one of the most spectacular debuts in Big Ten history.

For consistently overcoming adversity, Martinez has been named the FWAA’s first Shaun Alexander Inspirational Freshman of the Year Award.

“My sophomore season at Alabama, I had a mid-foot sprain which basically I dislocated my foot,” said Alexander, the Crimson Tide’s second all-time leading rusher from 1996 to 1999 who later went on to a phenomenal nine-year NFL career. “I hardly played, we went 4-7 and I was getting verbal jabs wondering if I had been lucky as a freshman or maybe I had a sophomore slump.

“I got knocked down as a sophomore, but as a junior I was going to be the starter. I had the keys to the car. The first carry was coming to me. I scored five touchdowns in the (1998) season opener (against Brigham Young) in my first start.

“It’s why I always wanted to inspire people to get up if you’ve been knocked down. That’s why I like this Martinez kid. He got knocked down and he got up.”

Martinez, who averaged 237.9 passing yards and 57.2 yards rushing, became just the sixth freshman FBS quarterback since 1990 to average 200 passing and 50 rushing yards. That prestigious group has a pair of Heisman Trophy winners, including Marcus Mariota.

It was a comparison to Mariota that first brought Martinez to the attention of then-Central Florida head coach Scott Frost and quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco. As Oregon’s offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, Frost had coached Mariota when he won the 2014 Heisman.

“I just had this notion in my mind that he just reminded me of Marcus Mariota,” Verduzco said earlier this year after he recalled watching just a handful of plays of Martinez’s high school game film.

Martinez was the top QB on the recruiting board for Frost and Verduzco at UCF. When Frost was announced as Nebraska’s new coach last December, his first call was to Martinez who had verbally committed to Tennessee.

Even while Frost was preparing UCF for its bowl game, he flew cross-country to visit Martinez. One of the things that swayed Martinez to break his Tennessee commitment was Frost’s loyalty to stay and coach UCF for the bowl game.

“It speaks volumes that he’s going out to coach the bowl game,” said Martinez before signing with Nebraska last Dec. 20 and enrolling last January “He’s going to finish it out with his players. That’s a big deal. That definitely impressed me. It showed me he wouldn’t give up on his players, that he wasn’t selfish. He’s demonstrated a lot of great things throughout this process in making the transition to Nebraska. It speaks to his character.”

Though Martinez ran for 60 yards and three TDs on 14 carries in the Huskers’ spring game, he wasn’t named starter until late in fall camp. He was the first true freshman quarterback in Nebraska’s storied football history to start a season opener.

“At the end of the day we’re more dangerous if we have a quarterback that’s also a threat to run,” Frost said of Martinez as the season progressed. “I’m always careful about making comparisons, but he’s doing some things like quite a few of the special guys I’ve been around. There’s no way I would have been ready to do what he’s doing right now as an 18-year-old. It says a lot about who he is as a person.”

In a tough rebuilding year for Nebraska as the Huskers finished 4-8 overall and 3-6 in Big Ten play, Martinez gave Nebraska fans hope for the future.

In Frost’s no-huddle spread-option offense, Martinez had a school-record seven 300-yard total offense games and threw for more than 260 yards in seven league contests. He led Nebraska to at least 450 total offense yards in seven straight games, the longest streak in school history.

Martinez also recorded three 400-yard total offense games (414 vs. Purdue, 441 at Wisconsin, 401 vs. Minnesota).

One of his most impressive stats was completing 24-of-26 passes for 269 yards and three TDs in leading Nebraska to TDs on seven game-opening drives.

“He’s one of the better players in the country already,” Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck said of Martinez. “He’s a running back that’s an incredible quarterback. He’s so fast, he’s so quick, he’s bigger than you think, and he can hurt you.”

Frost believes Martrinez’s best attribute is his desire to not be satisfied with status quo.

“There’s not going to be anybody better than Adrian once he gets as good as he can be,” Frost said. “I don’t think he’s ever going to be happy until he plays a perfect game, which is never going to happen, so he’s going to be hungry.”

Martinez’s patience and maturity, far beyond his years, should continue to serve him well.

“Just the experience I’ve gained throughout this process I think has really helped,” Martinez said. “Just different situations and growing with my teammates and coaches. Really, to point back to the great people I’m around it really just helped me progress to this point.

“I still feel like I haven’t scratched the surface.”

 

Rondale Moore wins FWAA’s first Shaun Alexander Freshman Breakout Performance of the Year

By Ron Higgins

Shaun Alexander knows what it’s like to have a breakout performance on a football field.

On a November 1996 Saturday night in a 26-0 win at LSU, Alexander went from a barely-used third-string Alabama freshman redshirt running back to recording the most yards rushing in a game in Crimson Tide history.

His incredible numbers – 291 yards and four touchdowns on 20 carries – have remained as the gold standard in Tuscaloosa, Ala. No running back in SEC history has rushed for more yards in one half than Alexander’s 274 yards on 19 carries in the second half against an LSU defense that held many offenses down in that 1996 season.

“After I scored the second TD,” Alexander recalled, “I told our fourth-string running back Montoya (Madden) that `I feel like I’m about to be in a zone.’ It’s a feeling I got in high school, college and in the pros when I felt I could score every time I touched the ball.”

Rondale Moore

Purdue true freshman wide receiver Rondale Moore can appreciate Alexander’s sixth sense.

Six times this year in Moore’s fabulous first season, he had 11 or more catches as he finished with an FBS-leading 114 catches for 1,258 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also set a school season record with 2,215 all-purpose yards, was named a consensus first-team All-Big Ten and All-American and won the Paul Hornung Award as college football’s most versatile player.

His biggest show came on the brightest stage. The 5-9, 180-pound Moore caught 12 passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns in Purdue’s stunning 49-20 beatdown of then-No. 2 and eventual Big Ten champion Ohio State on Oct. 20.

Add Moore’s two rushes for 24 yards, three kickoff returns for 49 yards and one punt return for 9 yards against the Buckeyes and it’s enough to be named as the FWAA’s first Shaun Alexander Freshman Breakout Performance of the Year.

“I saw most of the Ohio State game,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said, “and the way he (Moore) played against that type of competition was unusual. It would have been impressive for a senior. But to consider him being just out of high school, it’s awfully impressive.”

Alexander agrees with Ferentz’s assessment.

“I saw Moore’s first catch of the game and asked myself `Is he electric?’” Alexander said. “Then, as the game went on, he kept answering the question with a `Yes.’ It was special to see a freshman put in work like that.”

Admittedly, Alexander and Moore took different paths to grabbing the national spotlight for the first time.

In his senior season at Boone County (Ky.) High School in 1994, Alexander scored a mind-blowing 54 touchdowns, including 50 rushing scores. Yet when he reported to Alabama for the first time in the fall of 1995, he understood his place on the depth chart behind Dennis Riddle and Curtis Alexander (no relation to Shaun).

“I was still 17 years old when I reported and there were grown men there,” he said. “I still thought I was better than most of the guys. I felt like I was going to be good.

“But I didn’t feel like I felt in high school, which was when I walked on the field, I was going to take the game over. I didn’t want to be just a good player, I wanted to dominate. My desire to totally take the will out of the other team is the thing that drove me. I wanted to play at that level in college like I did in high school.”

Alexander was totally in agreement with then-Alabama coach Gene Stallings to redshirt him as a true freshman.

“You get to fine tune your game,” Alexander said when he considered the positives of being redshirted. “You get to learn the ebbs and flows of defense and how they scheme. I had the ability to look at the big master plan and say `OK, I can get there.’”

Even the next season in 1996 when he finally got chances to play, the moments were fleeting. Stallings, in the final season of his storied 39-year coaching career, was old school and simply didn’t believe most true freshmen or redshirt freshmen should get anything more than token minutes here and there.

But times have changed.

Now, when a college head coach such as Purdue’s Jeff Brohm lands a talent like Moore, the state of Kentucky’s 2017 Gatorade Player of the Year at Louisville’s Trinity High, you give him an immediate shot at playing time.

Moore didn’t disappoint. Starting with a school-record 313 all-purpose yards in the season-opener against Northwestern, Moore quickly became a weapon just as Brohm expected.

“He came into camp with us and from day one, he’s been making plays, taking every rep,” Brohm said of Moore. “He’s been dynamic and exceptional. He’s a difference maker. He brings it every game.”

Because Moore works with the same intensity every day and has adapted flawlessly to drawing more attention, on and off the field.

“I put in the work and my teammates have done a great job around me,” Moore told the Big Ten Conference network. “When you play at a certain level, you get more and more people who look up to you and pattern their life after you. You have to grow up and do things the right way.”

All of Moore’s physical attributes – his 4.33 40-yard speed and his incredible leg strength that allows him to squat 600 pounds – were on display against Ohio State.

Purdue was 3-3 after an 0-3 start when they welcomed the 7-0 Buckeyes and proceeded with a 29-point win that eventually played a major factor in keeping Ohio State out of the College Football Playoff.

On the Boilermakers’ first offensive play, the one that caught Alexander’s eye, Moore received a short pass and made four Ohio State tackles miss for a 23-yard gain. Moore’s last catch of the day was a 43-yard fourth-quarter touchdown in which he shook off a tackler that appeared to have him stopped near the sideline.

Moore had seven catches for 90 yards in the first half including a 9-yard touchdown with 27 seconds left before halftime for a momentum-grabbing 14-3 lead at the break. He added five receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown in the second half.

He celebrated the win by staying awake until 3 a.m. before the game tape was e-mailed to him so he could watch it and grade himself.

Moore also had 12 catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns in a regular-season ending win over Indiana that gave Purdue six wins and a bowl bid.

“He’s really fast and really, really strong,” said Indiana coach Tom Allen, whose Hoosiers were victimized by Moore’s 12 catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns. “He’s hard to tackle. He breaks a lot of tackles.”

Moore cited Ohio State and Indiana as his biggest games of the year.

“The Indiana game meant a lot to me personally,” Moore said, “because it gave our seniors a chance to play one more game in a bowl.”

Before the Music City Bowl, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn called Moore “one of best players in college football.” Moore was one of the bright spots in his team’s loss to the Tigers when he had 11 receptions for 94 yards and scored one of the Boilermakers’ two touchdowns on a seven-yard run.

As great a season as Moore experienced, he understands it’s only the beginning.

“There are a lot of areas I can improve,” Moore said. “Blocking is something I’ll focus on this spring and in the summer. Also, with a year of experience under my belt, I have to take on more of a leadership role.”

 

Trevor Lawrence named FWAA’s first Shaun Alexander National Freshman of the Year

By Ron Higgins

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is a nice guy who faces hard decisions.

When Swinney makes any lineup change, it’s done with the understanding no starting job is sacred. There’s no entitlement in the Tigers’ program. It was never more apparent this season when Swinney promoted true freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence to starter, supplanting returning starter and 2017 ACC title game MVP Kelly Bryant after Clemson’s 4-0 start.

Trevor Lawrence

Swinney said the decision was based on “data.”

In the first four games, Bryant led the offense to seven scores (five touchdowns and two field goals) in 20 possessions. Lawrence came off the bench and guided the offense to 16 scores (13 touchdowns, three field goals) in 23 possessions.

The stats didn’t lie then, and they certainly don’t now. Lawrence just finished an 11-0 season as a starter with being named the Most Valuable Offensive Player in Clemson’s 44-16 win over Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, which gave Clemson a 15-0 record and its second national title in the last three years.

Lawrence’s remarkably consistent, poised performances during the regular season is why he’s the clear-cut winner of the FWAA’s Shaun Alexander National Freshman of the Year Award.

“As we looked over all the great freshman players this year, Trevor was everything we want in a student athlete and he is everything we want as a player and a person to carry the Shaun Alexander National Freshman Player of the Year Award,” said Alexander, who revealed Lawrence as the winner at this morning’s annual FWAA awards breakfast in San Jose, Calif.”

Lawrence embodies the eight traits – Talent, Character, Ambassador, Legend, Faith, Passion, Focus, Leader – inscribed on the gold coin he received as the Alexander winner.

One quality that has served Lawrence well and kept him level-headed in his meteoric rise to stardom is faith.

“Football is important to me, but it’s not my life,” Lawrence said a few days before he threw for 327 yards and three touchdowns in Clemson’s 30-3 CFP semifinal rout of No. 4 Notre Dame at the Coton Bowl. “My faith is the biggest thing in my life. It comes from knowing who I am outside of football. So, no matter how big the situation, it’s not going to define me. I put my identity in what Christ says and who He thinks I am. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what people think about me or how good I played.”

Lawrence, who turned 19 years old in October, has completed 239-of-365 passes for 2,933 yards, 27 touchdowns and four interceptions. Swinney is running out of words to describe his chill 6-6, 215-pound signal-caller, who just a year ago was ranked as the nation’s No. 2 high school quarterback at Cartersville (Ga.) High.

“What you see is who he is,” Swinney said. “Trevor is poised, he’s polished, he doesn’t get rattled. He’s accurate, athletic, can see the field. He’s got a gift of an arm. He’s got a rare confidence and focus. Just has always been really locked in on himself and who he is and not worried about things he doesn’t control.

“I love his humility and how consistent he is with his demeanor and his preparation day in and day out. Easy, easy, easy guy to coach and easy guy to get behind and support. His teammates love him. He just has never looked like a freshman.”

When Bryant, a graduate senior, announced that he was transferring just days after Lawrence was named the starter (eventually settling on Missouri), it was an unexpected occurrence that could have unsettled a Clemson team seeking a fourth straight trip to the College Football Playoffs.

But it didn’t because of the way Lawrence handled it.

“You just have to earn respect and just kind of show what you can do and prove yourself a little bit, but not to be that guy that’s cocky and comes in and thinks he’s going to do all these things,” Lawrence said. “You can be confident, but I think it’s just got to show through how you play, going to work, just controlling what I can control and gradually showing what I could do that earned the respect of my teammates.”

From the get-go, Lawrence has impressed Clemson’s veterans.

“Trevor has just gotten better every week,” senior wide receiver Hunter Renfrow said. “I got to spend some time with him in the quarterback room. I saw from the third week to the fourth week to the fifth week, how he slowed everything down, how he was able to process everything and really just command the attention of the team.”

The only thing that initially surprised the Clemson coaching staff about Lawrence is that he was more advanced than they anticipated.

“You can see it when a kid has that ‘it’ factor and is special and, you know, he probably was a little bit further along when he came in in January than maybe we were expecting,” Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott. “He’s the kind of guy that during his lunch breaks is going into the coach’s office and watching film. We knew recruiting him he was going to be the type of player that he is.”

As the season progressed, Lawrence, who wears the number 16 in honor of Peyton Manning because he was his favorite player, earned rave reviews from opposing head coaches.

Duke coach David Cutcliffe, who tutored both Peyton and Eli Manning in college in his earlier coaching stops at Tennessee and Ole Miss, was suitably impressed with Lawrence.

“You don’t stop him, you just try to minimize the damage,” said Cutcliffe, whose team lost to Clemson 35-6 when Lawrence threw for 251 yards and two scores. “You have to defend, cover and try to create some great rush. He has incredible arm strength. He certainly looks very poised for a true freshman.”

Boston College coach Steve Addazio was just as wowed by Lawrence, who passed for 245 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score in the Tigers’ 27-7 November road win over the Eagles.

“He’s accurate, he’s got size and he’s got some savvy,” Addazio said of Lawrence. “He’s the real deal.”

With Lawrence’s final challenge against Alabama, Lawrence has a chance to become the first true freshman to lead his team to a national title since Oklahoma’s Jamelle Holieway in 1985.

“He’s very instinctive in terms of making the reads he needs to make, and he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes where he wants to throw the ball,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said of Lawrence. “He’s done a good job of reading the defense and taking what the defense gives him.

“We tried to recruit him. He’s a fine young man and a great competitor. He’s certainly proven that over the course of this season. He doesn’t look like a freshman, that’s for sure.”

The fact Lawrence is facing Alabama in the championship game makes the first FWAA Shaun Alexander National Freshman of the Year Award even more special for the award’s Crimson Tide namesake.

“Alabama playing against Dabo Swinney-led Clemson will always be special because of how much the ’Bama family loves Dabo,” Alexander said of Swinney, a member of the 1992 Alabama national championship team and later an assistant coach with the Crimson Tide. ”But Trevor, being the first (Shaun Alexander National Freshman of the Year) winner who’s coached by a ’Bama national champion like Dabo going against Alabama for all the marbles has just sweetened the pot.

“But that’s what special players do. They add to the game the potential for possible moments people will remember for a long time.”

 

FWAA names 2018 Freshman All-America Team

18th annual team features 32 first-year stars

SAN JOSE, Calif. The 18th annual Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-America Team features five players taking part in tonight’s College Football Playoff National Championship at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., and includes Clemson starting quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Alabama starting cornerback Patrick Surtain II.

The Southeastern Conference leads all conferences with six total selections, led by Georgia, which led all schools with three: offensive linemen Cade Mays and Isaiah Wilson and defensive lineman Jordon Davis. The Big 12 was second with five, followed by the Big Ten with four. All 10 FBS conferences and two independents are represented on the team.

Heading into tonight’s National Championship, Lawrence has posted one of the best regular seasons by a true freshman quarterback in history. Lawrence, a highly-touted early enrollee, played in the Tigers’ first four games before taking over as the starter. The Cartersville, Ga., product has thrown for 2,933 yards and 27 touchdowns and only four interceptions while averaging 12.3 yards per completion. Clemson’s offense is just 293 yards shy of breaking its own ACC record of 7,718 total yards set in 2015. The Tigers are averaging 530.4 total yards and 44.3 points per game. Lawrence has completed 65 percent of his passes.

Purdue’s Rondale Moore, among two Freshman All-Americans to be named to the FWAA’s All-America Team last month, leads the FBS with 114 receptions, the second-most in a season by a Big Ten player, and led the conference with 1,258 yards and 12 receiving touchdowns. Including his special teams yardage, Moore led the conference in all-purpose yards with 2,215, fourth nationally. In his debut, Moore set the Purdue single-game record with 313 all-purpose yards against Northwestern on Aug. 30, gaining 79 rushing yards, 109 receiving yards and 125 kickoff return yards.

Kicker Andre Szmyt of Syracuse was also a first-team FWAA All-America selection. He led the nation in scoring with 151 points, making 30 of 34 field goal attempts – including 3-for-3 beyond 50 yards – and all 61 extra-point attempts. Szmyt’s teammate, safety Andre Cisco, among the national leaders with seven interceptions, gives the Orange a pair of players on the team. Alabama is the only other school with teammates honored, as wide receiver Jaylen Waddle was selected to the team.

Josh Heupel, who coached UCF to a 13-0 regular season and the American Athletic Conference title, is the First-Year Coach of the Year.

The 13-person panel of nationally-prominent college football experts represented each of the FBS conferences along with independents in the selecting the team. Both true freshmen (18 players) and redshirt freshmen (14 players) were considered for the team and are so noted on the list below.

2018 FWAA FRESHMAN ALL-AMERICA TEAM

OFFENSE (13)

Pos. Player School Ht., Wt. Hometown
• QB Trevor Lawrence Clemson 6-6, 215 Cartersville, Ga.
• QB Adrian Martinez Nebraska 6-2, 220 Fresno, Calif.
• RB Jermar Jefferson Oregon State 5-11, 211 Harbor City, Calif.
RB Anthony McFarland Maryland 5-8, 193 Hyattsville, Md.
• WR Rondale Moore Purdue 5-9, 175 New Albany, Ind.
• WR Jayden Reed Western Michigan 6-0, 170 Aurora, Ill.
• WR Jaylen Waddle Alabama 5-10, 177 Houston, Texas
• OL Trace Clopton Southern Miss 6-2, 290 Brookhaven, Miss.
OL Keegan Cryder Wyoming 6-4, 291 Littleton, Colo.
OL James Empy BYU 6-4, 297 American Fork, Utah
OL Creed Humphrey Oklahoma 6-5, 325 Shawnee, Okla.
• OL Cade Mays Georgia 6-6, 318 Knoxville, Tenn.
OL Isaiah Wilson Georgia 6-7, 340 Brooklyn, N.Y.

DEFENSE (14)

Pos. Player School Ht., Wt. Hometown
• DL Jordan Davis Georgia 6-6, 320 Charlotte, N.C.
• DL Jamal Hines Toledo 6-2, 216 Cincinnati, Ohio
DL Juwuan Jones WKU 6-3, 270 Sugar Hill, Ga.
• DL Austin Lewis Liberty 6-6, 230 Jonesborough, Tenn.
LB Zaven Collins Tulsa 6-4, 250 Hominy, Okla.
LB Carlton Martial Troy 5-10, 216 Mobile, Ala)
• LB Merlin Robertson Arizona State 6-3, 235 Gardena, Calif.
• LB Mike Rose Iowa State 6-3, 228 Brecksville, Ohio
DB Paulson Adebo Stanford 6-1, 189 Mansfield, Texas
• DB Andre Cisco Syracuse 6-0, 199 Valley Stream, N.Y.
DB Adrian Frye Texas Tech 6-1, 175 Houston, Texas
• DB Caden Sterns Texas 6-1, 192 Cibolo, Texas
• DB Patrick Surtain II Alabama 6-2, 202 Plantation, Fla.
• DB Bryce Thompson Tennessee 5-11, 180 Irmo, S.C.

SPECIALISTS (5)

Pos. Player School Ht., Wt. Hometown
P Clayton Howell Appalachian State 6-0, 183 High Point, N.C.
K Andre Szmyt Syracuse 6-1, 195 Vernon Hills, Ill.
KR K.J. Hamler Penn State (5-9, 173 Pontiac, Mich.
PR Marcus Hayes New Mexico 6-0, 199 Rockford, Ill.
AP Pooka Williams Jr. Kansas 5-10, 170 Marrero, La.

HEAD COACH

Josh Heupel, UCF
• Denotes true freshman

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of 1,400 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game-day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at tiger@fwaa.com.

2018 FWAA FRESHMAN ALL-AMERICA COMMITTEE

Shaun Alexander

Mark Anderson, Las Vegas Review-Journal (MW)

Mark Blaudschun, TMGCollegeSports.com (ACC)

Scott Dochterman, The Athletic (Big Ten)

Mike Griffith, Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Chair/Independents)

Tommy Hicks, Freelance (Sun Belt)

Ron Higgins, Freelance (SEC)

Blair Kerkhoff, The Kansas City Star (Big 12)

Matt Murschel, Orlando Sentinel (American Athletic)

Nick Piotrowicz, Toledo Blade (MAC)

Steve Richardson, FWAA Executive Director

Grant Traylor, Huntington Herald-Dispatch (Conference USA)

Ryan Young, Rivals.com (Pac-12)