Our @standtogetherfoundation Catalyst of the Week is @actshousing. Based in Wisconsin, ACTS is committed to making homeownership attainable for all through innovative homebuyer counseling, home repair and rehab coaching, real estate services and more. And by renovating dilapidated and foreclosed homes, their work is transforming the city of Milwaukee. ACTS Housing has invested more than $138 million in Milwaukee communities, and this week they’re launching expanded programming in Beloit! Learn more about their work and how you can get involved at the link in bio.
Much has been made of No. 3 Georgia’s rushing attack in advance of their game against No. 7 Notre Dame on Saturday night in Athens, GA. However, it may be their two dynamic freshman receivers who end up making the plays that decide the hotly-contested matchup between blue blood schools. George Pickens and Dominick Blaylock have combined for 16 receptions, 322 receiving yards, and 3 touchdowns over the last two games, and it appears they’re only getting stronger. The highly-touted duo of Pickens and Blaylock were ranked as the No. 4 and No. 5 wide receivers in the 2019 class by 247Sports, respectively. They have certainly lived up to the hype with highlight-reel plays thus far. Pickens is an athletic marvel, capable of beating weaker defenders and contorting his body to make any catch thrown his way. What Blaylock lacks in raw athleticism, he makes up for with discipline and polish. Both receivers have demonstrated an ability to gain yards after the catch, and they should be heavily featured in this Saturday’s primetime matchup with the Fighting Irish. The Bulldogs will likely look to attack a suspect run defense, but if that strategy proves unsuccessful, look for the freshman standouts to make big plays on the outside.
With a 3-0 record for the first time since 2005, there’s plenty we could say about the University of Virginia and their performance this year on the field, but today the Freshman Focus is giving recognition to the amazing work the football team is doing off the field, by highlighting a program they call “Thursday’s Heroes.” Coach Mendenhall has long held a special place in his heart for kids and the local community, and is committed to not just giving back, but teaching his players the importance of it as well. Each week “Thursday’s Heroes” brings UVA fans who are facing difficult circumstances to practice meeting the team and coaches to find a fun respite from daily challenges. Embraced by the players, new freshman learn early on that giving their time and energy to this cause is yet another way the team is brought even closer together. “I believe community engagement should be a part of the overall student-athlete experience,” UVA Director of Athletics Carla Williams said. “It teaches student-athletes to be active in their community, and it has a lasting and positive impact on our society. Not only are they providing service to our community, they are also acquiring knowledge outside of the classroom and their respective sport programs.” We at the Freshman Focus couldn’t agree more and are honored to share their story.
Week three’s Fresh Four: Dillon Gabriel - QB - UCF 22/30, 347 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs, Gabriel didn’t waste any time establishing a lead against Stanford. Three touchdown passes in the first half led to a halftime score of 38-7. In what was supposed to be a close contest, Gabriel and the Knights set the Cardinal on fire and put college football’s blue bloods on notice. With Gabriel helming the offense, UCF appears poised to make another run at an undefeated season. Sam James - WR - WVU 9 rec, 155 yards, 1 TD 1 rush, 7 yards There was simply no answer for James on Saturday. The redshirt freshman kicked off the scoring on the Mountaineers’ first drive, hauling in a 20-yard touchdown pass. On the next drive, James came through with a 51-yard reception that led to a touchdown two plays later. West Virginia had five scoring drives of 66+ yards, and James had at least one reception of 11+ yards on all of them. His remarkable performance gave West Virginia a much-needed victory after last week’s lopsided loss to Missouri. Jayden Daniels - QB - ASU 15/26, 140 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs 12 rushes, 37 yards Daniels faced one of college football’s elite defenses on the road and played the kind of mistake-free football that gives a team the chance to win in the fourth quarter. His stats weren't impressive, but they didn't need to be. On the game-winning drive, Daniels racked up 79 total yards, including a 15-yard scramble on 4th-and-13 to keep the Arizona State's hopes alive. The defense deserves a bulk of the credit, but Daniels delivered when it mattered most. TJ McDaniel - RB - SMU 8 rushes, 159 yards, 3 TDs As far as debuts in college football go, few can match McDaniel’s performance. After averaging almost 20 yards per carry and finding the end zone three times in a victory over Texas State, McDaniel is now a legitimate weapon for the Mustangs. The Texas native was offered a scholarship from Clemson, and it was easy to see why as he gashed the Bobcats’ defense for big play after big play.
In honor of #NationalRecoveryMonth, this week’s @standtogetherfoundation Catalyst of the Week is @riserecoverlive. For more than 26,000 people around the country who are fighting substance use disorders, The Phoenix’s sober active community has offered a path to long-term sobriety. Their innovative programming helps individuals develop emotional strength and build a supportive network through activities like rock climbing, cycling, Crossfit and hiking. The Phoenix partnered w/ the @redsox this month to celebrate its work battling addiction in Boston. Learn more about how The Phoenix is helping people rise, recover and live by visiting the link in bio!
Two rising stars face the first big tests of their careers this Saturday, as Arizona State QB Jayden Daniels and Michigan State RB Elijah Collins face off in East Lansing, MI. The Spartans possess the toughest defense Daniels may see all season, but the freshman quarterback has put up astounding numbers through his first two games. He ranks 5th nationally in yards per completion and 19th nationally in total passing yards. The momentum he brings into this game could be key to walking away with a victory for the Sun Devils. When Daniels is on the sidelines, Michigan State’s Elijah Collins will be heavily relied upon to move the ball for the Spartans. The freshman tailback racked up 192 yards last week against Western Michigan, and he has firmly asserted himself as the feature back in East Lansing. He ranks 12th nationally in yards per carry and 21st nationally in total rushing yards, despite only seeing a substantial workload in one game. The Spartans aim to quicken their pace on offense this season, and they seem to have found the perfect running back to do so in Collins. Against an opponent like Arizona State, it could lead to a high-scoring affair with two freshmen putting on a show. 📸:247Sports
Each week the Freshman Focus is dedicated to sharing stories of inspiration from the young players who take the field and rise to the occasion. This week we’re proud to highlight and feature WR Metrius Fleming of Tennessee Tech as someone who is maximizing his good. Over the summer, on his way to Cookeville, Metrius received news of the sudden and unexpected passing of his brother, former Clemson player Tyshon Dye. Always an inspiration to Metrius growing up, Tyshon taught Metrius what it meant to be a positive role model. Metrius quotes: “Everything I do this season is for him. He got me here and I want to give him my best. I have to play strong and do everything I can do. And play strong he has. Metrius, the true freshman wide receiver scored Tech's first touchdown of the season on a 66-yard run, while also picking up a 41-yard kickoff return to set up a late touchdown in the Golden Eagles' 59-58 2OT win over Samford during week 1. Coping with the loss of a sibling and finding comfort from his new family at Tech, Metrius is a prime example of an Inspirational Freshman rising up and we’re proud to share his story. #tennesseetech #tntechfootball
Back again with round 2 of our Fresh Four... Kedon Slovis - QB - USC 28/33, 377 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs No freshman has played a better game this season than Slovis did against Stanford. Stepping in for the injured JT Daniels just a week after the starter tore his ACL in the season opener, Slovis delivered hope to a starving fanbase in the form of a dominant win over rival Stanford. He looked cool and comfortable delivering the ball to his receivers, four of whom racking up over 60 yards receiving in the process. Slovis’ performance restores promise to a USC program that has long been viewed as a sleeping giant. Zach Charbonnet - RB - Michigan 33 carries, 100 yards, 3 TDs The Wolverines leaned hard on Charbonnet in their double overtime victory over Army. Coach Jim Harbaugh said he felt like he had to after fellow freshman Ben VanSumeren fumbled on his first rushing attempt and sophomore Ben Turner missed an assignment in pass protection. The end result? A clearly defined starter at running back for Michigan, as Charbonnet displayed the kind of toughness and resolve not common in a true freshman tailback. Sam Howell - QB - North Carolina 16/24, 274 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs Howell makes his second consecutive appearance on The Fresh Four after leading the Tar Heels to another fourth-quarter comeback, this time over Miami. The true freshman looked confident early, throwing a 62-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter on a deep throw that hit receiver Dyami Brown in stride. Howell’s touchdown pass to Dazz Newsome with a minute left in the game gave North Carolina a big conference win early in the season, and North Carolina is now the favorite in the ACC Coastal Division. Matt Corral - QB - Ole Miss 16/24, 246 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs 10 carries, 46 yards Corral bounced back from last week’s loss to Memphis in a big way. He found his receivers in space all night long, and the Rebels picked up a huge first win over Arkansas. The offense looked much improved from the season opener, and Corral’s performance restores some optimism for Ole Miss this season.
In addition to highlighting the freshman athletes showing leadership on and off the field, we’re partnering with @standtogetherfoundation each week to feature nonprofit changemakers who are leading the charge to transform lives around the country. From @standtogetherfoundation, the Catalyst of the Week is @backonmyfeet (BOMF). BOMF uses the transformative discipline and community of running to help homeless individuals build stable lives. With more than 900K miles run, BOMF has helped employ and house more than 6,500 people experiencing homelessness across 12 major cities. Check out the impact of their innovative programs and find out how you can join the mission by visiting the link in our bio